Close Cut

Strawberry blonde, dye shade number 107. Finally. Long. Very long. And straight. He wondered how much time she had spent growing it. He could tell she washed it this morning. It smelled like Herbal Essences Citrus Lift. She sat alone.

Everyone in the subway car looked at his or her phone, and not at him. He glanced up at the little square camera in the corner. Its black face glittered like the eye of a beetle. The driver could see him, as always, so he had to be fast. Fast, and precise.

He watched her hair sashay as the subway jostled on its tracks. His eyes followed the shimmers that zipped along her silky 107 mane as each underground light passed by. They were like shooting stars in a strawberry blonde sky. He had to wipe away a tear. Did she even know what she was growing? The majesty of it?

The blades were no longer cool after he ran his fingers along the flat edges for so long, tucked away in his sleeve. He felt the momentum shift as the train began to slow. It wouldn’t be long now.

He was not a violent man, no matter what the newspapers said. He never slipped, even when they struggled. But the articles never bothered him, nor excited him. He didn’t care if the world saw what he did. Only the growers mattered. They would remember. They would feel the absence every day.

Brakes screeched against rails. He shifted forward in his seat, half from the momentum and half from wanting to be closer to her. He worked his fingers down the blades to the handle. The looped metal there was cool. His heart picked up. The train was slowing, slowing.

The shears grew out of his sleeve, spread wide like a stainless steel beak. He moved off his seat and placed his knee on the seat behind the woman, scooping her hair into his palm. Nice and thin, nice and thin, and–snip-snip-snip. He drew the blades from right to left, the strawberry-blonde waterfall pooling into his hand. By the time she noticed, the train doors were open.

He stuffed the severed ponytail into a plastic bag, and shoved the bag and the shears into his coat pocket. The doors almost closed on him, but he made it through.

A passing wind on the woman’s newly-bare neck alerted her. She turned sharply—too sharply—her head was so light now—to find the source of the cool air, but the curly-haired man who sat behind her was gone. She touched the back of her neck and found flesh rather than a shield of hair. She used both hands now, searching, groping for the phantom non-limb.

When the scream reached the man’s ears he was turning a corner and peeling the curly ginger wig from his head. His own hair wasn’t as beautiful–short, brown, nondescript. No matter. He had options.

He wondered how he would look in strawberry blond.

He couldn’t wait to show it to her again.





Day 304’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Shave and a haircut,” “Prestidigitation,” and, “Clandestine.”

Something I dreamed up once while riding a train.

– H.

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