Story: The Final Cut

Scissors glint as they fly through the air, silver blades a harsh contrast to the ink-black of Robin’s long, curly hair.

She watches mesmerized as her locks tumbles to the clean tiles. With each lost curl a weight drops from her shoulders; phrases she heard all her life leave her head.

“You’ll have no trouble finding a husband!” Snip. “It’s just a phase.” Snip. “If I were you, I would never cut it!” Snip. “How can you know you don’t like men if you never tried?” Snip.

She had grown a thick skin against words and the world. One had to, especially people like her, especially in times like these. Every time she heard “real women” Robin couldn’t breathe anymore, each strand of her hair strangling her like a snake.

“Are you sure?” the hairdresser had asked, holding Robin’s hair bundled in a ponytail in one hand, and the scissors in the other.

Robin nodded, never so sure about anything in her life. The hairdresser glanced nervously back to the official-looking paper on the counter. When her eyes fell on the bundle of money, the woman shrugged and started snipping.

For the last part, an electric razor replaces the scissors.


Thirty-six minutes later, the door shuts behind Robin with a faint tinkling. The warm breeze caressing her exposed neck makes her smile.

Then she notices two uniformed men across the street who approach her with urgent steps.

“Good afternoon, ma’am,” one says.

He looms at least two heads taller over Robin. His partner is stout, his hand over the handgun on his belt. Both pairs of eyes flick between her hair and her face. Robin chokes on their glances.

“New haircut?” The tall man asks.

“Yes, sir.”

He looks at her new hairstyle—a daring undercut, barely longer than two fingers at the front.

“You have a permit from your husband for that?”

Robin fumbles in her purse, trying to stop her hands from shaking while she hands the official-looking paper to the man. It’s a forgery, of course, and had cost her three times as much as the haircut. She hopes it’s good enough.

Robin holds her breath while the two officers lean over the document, too scared to fiddle, too nervous to stand still.

After what feels like an eternity, they hand the paper back to her.

“Everything seems in order,’’ the tall one says.

“Except for that mess on her head,” his partner one chuckles. “Some guys are into the weirdest things.”

But the tall officer is already turning to a young woman pushing a stroller across the street.

“Excuse me, ma’am, does the father of this child know that you are out with his offspring alone?”

Robin brushes her palm over the stubble on her head and dares to breathe again. Medusa won’t go to jail for butchering her snakes today.

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