the hair cut

It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still. I looked down near my Docs then up into the mirror to gauge Margo’s reaction. There wasn’t one. The other girls seemed to be watching for one, too. Instead, silence suffocated the salon.

“Is that okay?” I said, my voice feeling like monstrous thunder in the still of the salon. I retrieved the five inch thick curl of hair from the floor and held it up for Margo to view.

“I s’pose,” Margo hummed. “But I may want even more cut off after yer done, okay?”

“Of course.”

I continued cutting Margo’s silver and black hair and wondered why she was wanting such a change. This was her first time with me. Actually, it was her first time in the salon. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in a salon to get her hair done, but she needed a change. “Desperately,” Margo added, dropping her eyes from mine.

She wanted a little life put back into her hair, she told me. Something that wouldn’t require her to color it, nor require much maintenance. She couldn’t afford to do either, and I was pretty sure she wasn’t referring to just money.

There was something about Margo that intrigued me more-so than most first time clients, and I found myself trying to get her to talk more.

“I bet you’ll be a lot cooler with shorter hair,” I smiled, focusing on cutting.

“That’d be nice.”

“Has it ever been short?”

“Not since I was a kid.”

What was it about this woman that I needed to know?

“Have you ever tried blowing your hair out?”

Margo shifted in her seat before answering, “It’s just too much work. I’d love it straight, but we all want what we don’t have.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” I snickered.

I looked at the mirror and found Margo’s eyes and immediately felt something that I really don’t know how to describe. A connection of sorts, perhaps? I’m not sure, but I needed to keep this woman talking. It felt necessary.

“What?” she softly asked when our eyes met. “What is it you want that you don’t have?”

Love…happiness…peace, my brain shouted, but instead I smiled and said, “Oh ya know, the usual stuff: my own home, a new car n stuff.”

“Hmm,” a grin washed across Margo’s face. “That’s just ‘stuff’ though. Is there anything you want that doesn’t cost money?”

“Of course,” I replied, trying to focus on more cutting; Margo had a lot of hair.

With another grin washing across her face, Margo continued: “One of my favorite quotes is from Picasso: ‘Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.’”

Our eyes met again, and again there was that… spark.

I thought about what she said for a moment and her eyes dropped back down into her lap like they had done when she first sat down with me. I continued cutting her hair when suddenly I blurted out, “Is that why you’re cutting off all this hair?”

Immediately I wished it back. I don’t know why I had become so defensive. But when I finally looked back at Margo, she was grinning again. And she was looking into my eyes again with so much kindness.

“My hair, for me,” she said smiling, “is just more ‘stuff’. It doesn’t really matter in the long run, ya know?”

I returned her smile and noticed her blue eyes started to shine and that, in turn, made me start to well up as well.

I finished cutting her hair and when it was all said and done, she smiled big again, shook her head and curls and thanked me, telling me I did a great job, that I was right to start cutting it longer.

A couple weeks later, I got a card in the mail at the salon. It was from Margo with no last name, no return address. The front of the card had an image of someone sitting on a bench watching the sunset. Inside the card was a handwritten note:

John Steinbeck said, “I wonder how many people
I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
I want you to know that I saw you,
the REAL you and you deserve love and happiness.
You just got to believe that. Truly believe it.
Thanks for the great hair cut!





well, this was new for me… i’m not one to generally go sappy when writing fiction. hope it was still enjoyable.

21 thoughts on “the hair cut

  1. Nice take on the prompt! Of all the things I could picture “fluttering” and “wilting,” a lock of hair would’ve never crossed my mind.

    I like your focus on the small, seemingly insignificant moments between two people that are full of all this hidden emotion. I’m reminded of Miranda July’s book of short stories, “No One Else Belongs Here More Than You.”

  2. I thought this was wonderful, Christina. I love that this extraordinary connection happened over something so mundane as a haircut. I love the sense that these two will probably never see each other again, but it was enough.

  3. This was really good. I used to be a cosmetologist, and every once in a while, there would be a customer who was different than the others, just as you portrayed here, and though I may never have seen them again, they impacted my life in that moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we could impact someone’s life for the better, if even for a moment? Thanks for making me think.

    God bless you,

    • awesome, thanks so much Cheryl! having only ever been the recipient of a hair cut, i’m glad to hear from someone who’s been on the other side and that can relate to this piece.

  4. A lovely piece…and reminds me of when during a life crisis I first cut my hair very very short…it happens sometimes, the hairdresser was adorable and did such a fantastic job. Thanks for a great write.

  5. Don’t be silly… of course it was enjoyable. In fact more so, because you started me thinking of times when I’ve met someone, in the course of some business or the other, that had a special spark. We find that in writers we read too. I liked too, how the object of the prompt line was a piece of hair!

  6. that inexplicable “something” we find in others that makes us want to know more. yes! also, I’ve found as I’m getting older that “stuff” just gets in the way sometimes.

  7. Christine says:

    You captured that moment of connection really well. It was very intimate, in a way. And very realistic in the details. Nice job.

  8. Nice work, Christina! I love the way you describe their connection. It reminds me of a woman I met a very long time ago. We worked in the same building. Before she left her job, she sought me out to give me a book. I’ve never seen her since, but that sense of finding a kindred spirit has stuck with me ever since.

    By the way, I didn’t find this sappy at all. 🙂

  9. EditMoi says:

    “What was it about this woman that I needed to know?” This line gave me chills. This was a really great post, Christina.

  10. I love the way you built this up, the curiosity and intrigue she felt for Margo and the connection that was formed. I loved the intimacy that you created from a mundane and ordinary setting, and then showed us the impact that came from this meeting. Well done.

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