Sisters by Christina Browning
It was very early in the morning when I woke up. I looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand. Five-thirty. Although I didn’t have to be at work until nine, I decided to get out of bed. I put on my dressing gown and walked through the silent and empty hall to the bathroom.
I switched on the light and looked at myself in the mirror. My wavy blond hair that reached my hips was a mess, like it was every morning. I took a hairbrush from the shelf above the sink, and started brushing my hair.
It was all tangled up. I really loved my long hair, but I hated it to spend so much time on it each morning. Untangling it would take at least fifteen minutes and blow-drying it after I washed it took even longer. The thought of cutting my hair had crossed my mind a few times, but I always dismissed it immediately.
I couldn’t cut my hair, could I? I’d had long hair for as long as I could remember. I wasn’t sure a short style would suit me, besides what would my boyfriend say?
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I put down the brush, and looked into the mirror, wondering what I would look like without my long hair. I just couldn’t imagine having my hair cut off. I dismissed the thought again, like I had done many times before.
Then I undressed and took a shower. I washed my hair and enjoyed the feeling of the shampoo in my hair. Then I rinsed it out and closed the tap.
I stood there for a while, totally naked, thinking of a haircut again. I took a comb and started untangling my hair. This time it was even worse than usual. It took me almost twenty minutes to untangle it. My hair hung six inches past my waist when it was dry. Now that it was wet, it was even eight inches past my waist. According to my stylist my hair was very healthy and in very good condition. It was very beautiful as well, so why should I cut it off?
At midday I had forgotten all about these thoughts. I left the office heading for “Melanie’s lunchroom” where I would meet my sister for lunch. My sister was nineteen, two years younger than me, and in her first year at university. She had long hair too, although not as long as mine. It came about five inches past her shoulders. Her hair was a beautiful shade of dark brown, and very straight.
When she walked into the lunchroom I immediately noticed the change. She had permed her hair. Beautiful curls cascaded over her shoulders. Wow, I thought, what a change. She looked beautiful.
She kissed me on the cheek and said: “Hi, sis! Good to see you. What do you think of my hair?”
I was completely stunned and for a moment I didn’t know what to say. Finally I said: “You look beautiful, Becky! I really mean it.” I reached out my hand and ran my fingers through her lovely curls. She seemed to like that.
Becky looked at my hair, which I wore in a ponytail and said: “You’d look gorgeous with a perm too, Christina. You’ve had your hair like this for ages. Why don’t you do something different to your hair for a change?”
“Funny you should say that, Becky. I have been thinking a lot about changing my hairstyle lately, but I’m not sure yet. I’m a bit fed up with this long and boring hair. I’d like a much shorter style, but I don’t think I have the guts to do it.”
“Just go for it, sis!” was Becky’s reaction. “You’ve had this boring style for far too long now. I think it’s time for some drastic changes. Why don’t you have a look at some pictures of styles. See what you like and get some ideas”
“Looking at pictures sounds like a good idea, but where do we find them?”, I asked her.
“How about the Internet? There are some very good pages with a lot of hairstyle-pictures on the web. There are some message boards and discussion groups as well, so you can even ask other people for advice.
I had to agree with Becky that this was an excellent idea. We decided that I would come to the university after work, so we could use the computer at the library to have a look around on the Internet.
When I arrived at the library a few hours later, Becky was already there, working at a computer. On the screen was a picture of a beautiful young girl with a pixie cut.
“I’m not sure I want to go that short!” I told Becky, looking at the picture of the short-haired girl.
“You don’t have to. There are also pictures of other, longer styles. How about a short bob, or a shoulder-length style?
For about half an hour we looked at a lot of different styles, but there was not one that I really liked. “What did you say about message boards, Becky? Can we post a message there? See if someone else has suggestions?”
Becky explained to me how it worked and I started typing. “Can I use your e-mail address, sis? I don’t have e-mail yet.”
Becky agreed, and I continued typing. She wanted to look over my shoulder to see what I was writing, but I pushed her away. “Be patient, you can read it as soon as I’ve finished.” Becky realised it was no use arguing and she let me get on with it. When I had posted the message I called her. “You can read it now!” I told her.
Becky returned to the computer and started to read the message I had just posted:
Hi everybody, I am a 21 year old girl from Canada. I have blond, wavy hair six inches past my waist. I am thinking about going short, but I don’t know what style. You can mail suggestions to me, preferably pictures of styles. I am trying to convince my sister Becky (19, dark brown permed hair a few inches below the shoulders) to go short as well. Maybe you can help me persuade her.
“Hey, why did you include that part about me? I don’t want a short haircut. We were talking about you, not me,” Becky protested. “I just had my hair permed. I don’t want to cut it!”
I told her that as my sister she should support me and do anything that would make me feel more comfortable about the oncoming change, and that included going to the salon with me and have a haircut at the same time.
“Maybe I will,” she answered, “but let’s see what reactions we get first. If someone sends us a picture of a style I really like I might be persuaded.” She tried to sound sincere, but I could hear in her voice that she didn’t mean what she said. She was just trying to get me of her back.
We checked Becky’s e-mail every day, but the first day there were no really serious suggestions. Some weirdo’s suggested that we buzz or even shave our heads. We wouldn’t even consider that, so I pressed the delete-button to get rid of those messages. The second day there were a few people who suggested we look at a certain web page with pictures, but we had seen all of those before, and there were none we really liked.
Then one day we received some pictures we really liked. There was this picture of a brunette with a chin-length bob with a tapered back. That was the style I had been looking for. I was sure that style would look great on me. Becky, however, still hadn’t found a style she liked. I was not completely sure she really wanted to cut her hair, but she kept on saying she did.
We started browsing through some web pages again, and suddenly we found a link to a makeover-page. There was this girl about Becky’s age. She was a redhead and had past shoulder-length curly hair on the before pic. She went to a very short cropped style, about one and a half inch on top and a bit shorter at the back and sides, a style that looked great on this girl, and the shape of her face was about the same as Becky’s. “This is the style I want!” I heard Becky say.
I was a bit shocked. I hadn’t expected my sister to cut her hair in the first place, let alone this short. “Are you really sure? This is incredibly short. Do you really like this style?”
There was no way I could make Becky change her mind, and an hour later we called the beauty salon to make an appointment.
A few days later, two days before Christmas, we went to the salon together. I was glad to have Becky there for moral support, because I knew I might chicken out at the last minute otherwise. Becky was obviously happy that I was there as well.
After a few minutes of waiting the stylist came to us. “Who’s gonna be first?” she asked. Becky and I looked at each other. “I’ll be first,” Becky answered, and followed the stylist to the big chair.
She sat down and the stylist draped the cape around her. She started combing Becky’s gorgeous long locks, and asked her what she wanted. Becky showed her the picture. The stylist was a bit shocked at first, but when she saw that Becky was absolutely sure about this she agreed.
The stylist took a spray bottle filled with water and wet Becky’s hair. Then she combed it again. Becky was very excited about this. The stylist, whose name was Karen, took a lock on top of Becky’s head, combed it and cut it off one and a half-inch from the scalp. There was no turning back now.
Karen kept cutting and the long curls fell on Beck’s shoulders, in her lap, and to the floor. Becky watched excitedly how her long tresses were ruthlessly cut short. She was still smiling. I, however, became more and more nervous, not really sure anymore if I wanted to go through with it.
Soon Karen had cut all the hair on top and then reached for the clippers. She put on the one-inch guard and then switched them on. She started at the nape of the neck and slowly pushed them upwards. I saw my sister’s long tresses fall to the floor and I knew she had made the right choice. This style really suited her.
Karen now started to buzz the left side of Beck’s head, then continued with the right side. She looked at her work and took up the scissors again. She started to cut again to blend the top with the back and sides. She did a very good job. The style looked very professional. Very curly too. Becky liked what she saw, and so did I.
Karen removed the cape, and Becky stood up, looking at the tresses on the floor. Then she looked at me. “Now it’s your turn, Chrissie! No turning back now.”
As Karen took a broom and swept the floor, I took place in the chair. My heart was beating like mad. I ran my fingers through my long hair for the last time and then I said to Karen: “I’m ready!”
Karen had already looked at the picture I had brought, and although it was a big step to take, she thought the style would suit me. “You’ve made an excellent choice my dear.”
I watched nervously and excitedly when Karen started to braid my very long hair. The plait reached to my butt and was very thick, more than an inch in diameter. Karen asked me again if I was absolutely sure. I nodded. She took the scissors and placed them at the nape of my neck. After a brief hesitation she resolutely started to cut.
Because the plait was so thick, it took her a lot of effort to cut it off. Finally it came loose and she held it up for me to see. I felt a tear well up in my eyes as I looked at it. The plait was more than two feet long. I realised the worst was over now and looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was a little above the shoulders now. My head felt so light. That was a marvelous feeling.
Karen handed me the plait and I put it on the counter. I asked Karen to go on. She draped the cape around me and wetted my hair. She combed it and sectioned it of. She pinned it up, except for the lowest section. She combed that and cut it straight off at chin length. She combed another section over the already cut hair, and cut this at the same length. She repeated this until she reached the last layer, and when she had cut that as well, she did the same to the sides.
Now my hair was all one length, but the cut was not finished yet. I asked Karen to continue and she took the comb and scissors and tapered the back a bit, making the shortest layer about one and a half inches above chin length. She realised the cut was not finished yet. She took a razor and cut a few layers at the front to frame my face.
She put some conditioner in my hair and started to style it, using a blowdryer. I looked in the mirror again, and then I turned around to face Becky. She looked great with her new mega-short style. She looked at me and said: “Wow! This looks fantastic. Great. You’re gorgeous.”
I run my fingers through my short hair, and loved the feeling. It was a strange feeling, not having my incredibly long hair anymore, but it was a good feeling. As Karen removed the cape, I stood up and thanked her for the good job she had done. After we had paid and left her a big tip, we walked through the door together, both very happy with our new looks, very glad we had done it. In my hand I had my two-foot-long plait, which I wanted to keep as a reminder of this great day.