Retakes – CutUps
Jill was seventeen. Waves of thick red hair flowed like lava to her elbows. She checked black skirt and burgundy blouse one more time in the full-length mirror in her own room in The White House living quarters. Senior pictures. Today was a big day, but Jill Tisdale, third daughter of the President had something even bigger planned. Today she would do something no one would expect this Jill to do in a hundred million years, something she had wished she could do since the second she met Jennifer two years ago.
She used her phone. One ring. Two rings. Jill would be SO disappointed if Jen wasn’t home, for she’d been waiting two years for this.
“Tanners. I’m Jennifer,” the sweet southern voice drawled.
“May I come see you? Maybe spend the night?”
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Jen was really Senator Jennifer Tanner from Georgia, a generation older than Jill Tisdale. She ran a hand over her brunette hair bobbed tight from her crown to her nape. She’d sung in clubs and played trumpet on tour and with Boston Pops to pay her way through Harvard Law, just like Jill would work her way through college. Jill was the third daughter, years younger than her next older sister, years older than the twin sisters born after her, almost an only child like Jennifer.
“Sure. Pack to go to the ranch with us, at least a couple of weeks.”
Smile. Show those perfect teeth. Turn to the right, now a little back to your left. Run those fingers through your beautiful red hair… Senior pictures were a breeze for the teen who’d spent most of her life on stage or in front of a camera. It seemed like less than a second when Jill was blowing off her Secret Service protection in front of Jen’s building in Georgetown and riding the elevator to the tenth floor.
Seventh floor. Eighth floor. Jill was riding closer, closer to doing what she’d looked forward to doing, what she’d never told anyone she was dying to do. Boy, would everybody hit the floor when they saw her after. Ninth floor. Her heart raced and her palms sweated. What if she did this and she was Braun Hilda, a witch? What if what made Jen Tanner such a beautiful woman of nearly fifty turned Jill hideous, and she had to live with it for six months? What if she chickened out and never did this? How long would she kick herself?
Girls from her high school were going to be stunned, that Jill Tisdale had gotten a real haircut. Jill, a haircut? What would drive the most beautiful girl in school to cut her hair so short? How long would she have to put up with their dumb questions and stunned stares?
Jill stopped the elevator.
This had to be the dumbest thing she had ever thought. She had forced officials to close The Mall of America, just because she and her buds Hailey and Molly decided on a whim to ditch her Secret Service protection. She and her buds had swiped a car and a case of brew and joyridden though D.C. and half of Virginia one night, and only one person knew. Jill Tisdale was seventeen. Six months was the blink of an eye when you were seventeen. You were supposed to do stuff when you were seventeen just because you’re seventeen, for crying out loud.
Jill pulled long and thick blood-red waves off her ears, high off her ears. The Jill she saw in the chrome railing, the Jill with the small, round face and ears, the pug nose and dimples who looked back at her was stunning, if she said so herself. Slam dunk. Forget about it. She started the elevator again, didn’t even grip the handle of her luggage as if choking it to death.
She rang the bell at Condo Ten Twelve. Sleek, slim, no way looking the fifty years old that she never told anybody she really was, U.S. Senator Jennifer Tanner opened the door. She hugged Jill and pecked her on the cheek.
“Picture day?” Jen asked, watching Jill stash her stuff in the guest bedroom.
Jill shrugged. “Forget about it.”
“In the bag,” Jill said.
“No bakes going in the kitchen. Maybe we can even snitch a couple before Mike and Mary Margaret get back.” Jen Tanner’s hair was perfect, clipped just so you couldn’t see skin up the back and sides, precise curls on top. Now, Jill could do it just like her, if…
Together they walked into the ultramodern kitchen, complete with the high back old-fashioned red barber chair with footrest.
Jill scooped chocolate batter out of a big bowl, rolled it in sugar and dropped it on a cookie sheet, sneaking a peek at her best friend in the whole world. “Jen, you ever wonder why I like hanging with you?”
“I understood what you just said?”
Jill grinned, plopping another cookie onto the sheet.
“I’m surprised you brought it up. You gonna tell me, or do I have to walk the floor all night until I figure it out?”
“It’s just that you’re so smart. Lawyer who tried a case before the Supreme Court, then a federal judge, and now a Senator with megatons of power. And you sing and play piano and sax. You have all this talent for music, and like, it’s WAY cool that you toured with Boston Pops.”
“Had the horn, and I needed a gig. Harvard Law wasn’t a nickel and dime outfit, even in those days. You got the horn and the keyboard, too. You got the talent, and you can hold an audience in the palm of your hand. Hate to have you find out, but I think you remind me of me.”
“Jennifer, there’s something else I need… I want to ask, and I hope you don’t think it’s dumb, because I’ve been waiting for the right time…” Jill just stared at the haircut.
“You’re not running from the law, are you? This summer’s tour’s not gonna be Jill And The Fugitives?”
Jill Tisdale smiled then buried her face in Jennifer’s chest. “I don’t know why I’m so afraid to tell you. I mean, we can tell each other everything.”
Jen kissed Jill Tisdale’s forehead and stroked her hair. “Sweetie, bless your heart. You know you can tell me anything.”
Jill’s knees knocked. Her heart raced. “I love your haircut, and I’ve wanted to get my hair cut just like it, and…”
“I’m flattered, and you would be gorgeous.”
“You’re gonna think it’s lame and dumb and all, but I’ve always kind of wished there’d be a time when it’s just you and me, and you’d cut my hair. That’d make it special, like just between us, you know?”
An egg timer rang.
“Yeah, it would. Cookies are done.” Jen slid a sheet of cookies out of the oven. “Now’s good for you?”
Jill climbed into the barber chair, flopped her long hair over the back, and rested her pumps on the footrest. She watched in the counter mirror as Jen threw a black barber cape over her and snapped it around her neck by its white collar. Jill Tisdale’s long hair was on the endangered species list.
Jen snipped hair off at Jill’s earlobes. “We’ll do this with scissors all the way around. You’re really sure you want it like mine? I like it super short. You’re about to get peeled.”
“Yeah. Go for it. Super short.”
Scissors grated like sandpaper brushing rough wood. Jill watched strands, chunks, years of red hair hit the cape and slide to the floor, still not believing she was getting this.
“Jen, you get cut with clippers?”
Lift and click. Jennifer bared Jill’s long, thin neck. “Yes.”
“Tell me what that’s like.”
“You’ll find out.”
Lift and click. Hair floated to the floor from the right side of Jill. “You’re not gonna tell me.”
“Just that there’s a reason why I get cut with clippers, Jill. Every time. Time to lower your ears. You know, though, we could just even this up at the nape, give you a long bob.”
“I like your pixie.”
Jennifer scissored hair around Jill’s left ear, tight, then around the right ear. “I’ve always worn my hair like this.”
“You never told me.”
Jen sheared Jill to an inch on top from hairline to occipital, letting her watch cuttings float to the floor. “Mama owned the barber shop down home. She always wore this haircut and always cut mine this way.”
“Never pass up the free haircut. Check.”
Jen evened out rough spots in Jill’s cut, clicking the scissors. “I always thought Mom looked so elegant, just like you thought I do. I still like it. Don’t want to try anything else. Now, you find out about clippers.”
The Sunbeams popped to life and buzzed with a clatter. Jen shaved Jill’s neck to her nape. Tickling, stimulating, aroused, Jill dropped her chin to her chest and moaned.
“Now, you know.”
“Yes. It’s like better than having a guy…” The young redhead, now shorn, smiled slowly.
Jen Tanner grinned. “Almost. You liked that, keep your eyes on that mirror.”
Jill looked straight ahead. Jen slipped the smallest plastic guard over the clipper head and ran the buzzing machine up the sides and back of Jill’s head, bending her ears even. She was getting super peeled. Hair just kept falling and falling. Jill did not even blink. Air-conditioned air hit her ears and a smile spread across her lips. Thick hair even hit her shoulders with a thump. Jen stopped the clippers. Jill touched the clipped hair, cut too short even to grab between her fingers. She smiled.
“Jill Marie, I can’t wait to get you permed. You are going to be GORGEOUS! Your mom and your sisters won’t believe how gorgeous you just got.”
Jill shampooed at the kitchen sink, still getting used to feeling so shorn. She gasped, toweling off the excess water, looking at piles and piles of long red hair on the white tile floor around the barber chair. She hid against Jen’s shoulder. “This is so embarrassing.”
“Took megatons of courage to get as much hair cut as you just did. You be proud of your courage. I am.” Jen wound Jill’s top around big padded curlers and squirted on the Toni perm. She squirted Mennen shaving cream into a saucepan of water and turned on a burner under the pan.
Jill looked away from the book of poetry she read while the perm permed. “What’s the cream in the pan for?”
“You get a haircut like ours, you get another treat. A hot shave up the neck and around the ears.” Jen dabbed on the shaving cream, stropped the straight razor and scraped around Jill’s ears and up her neck.
The scraping of skin like sandpaper to wood stimulated Jill’s womanhood. Her face was too small to hold that big of a smile.
“Yeah, baby. I like it too.”
Jill shook her head. “I don’t like it.”
You might as well have just tipped the Empire State Building over on Jennifer, she was that stunned.
Jill grinned from ear to ear, sweeping mounds of her long red past into a dustpan. “I LOVE THIS HAIRCUT.”
“We get a haircut just like this every three weeks. Perm and cut every six.”
Jill furrowed her forehead. “I can come with you?”
“I’m counting on it, but I’d call Mom. You think you might have something to tell her?”
Jill nodded. She got it. She called the First Lady of the United States, even taking the phone where she didn’t need to take her eyes off Jill in the mirror. “Mom, well, about my pictures, I think I’m gonna need retakes.”