Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 6


“Aunt Betty, she didn’t have to schedule us so early.”

I look around the upscale, cool hair salon that my aunt has gone to for the last twenty years. She considers her stylist, Dawn, a close friend. Aunt Betty has shared my story about my hair, and Dawn has heard stories of Jenny and me from her over the years.

It’s eight in the morning. The salon is empty; it doesn’t open for business until eleven because they work late hours on Thursdays and Fridays. Dawn has scheduled us so I could have privacy with Aunt Betty by my side in case I get emotional.

“She’s honored you choose her to cut your beautiful hair. Are you still feeling sure this is the right time?” she asks with concerns in her voice.

I grin, “I’m so excited I’m about to burst with it. It’s time; I’m at peace, I promise you.”

“Hey ladies, come over here and have a seat. Who wants a cup of coffee, anyone?” A tall, attractive middle-aged woman greets us.

“Oh my God, honey, your hair is beautiful. Betty didn’t exaggerate how much of it you have. I’m Dawn; it’s nice to meet you in person finally. How are you feeling about today?” Dawn takes ahold of my hand and leads me over to her station.

I sit down in the chair. “I’m feeling good and excited. Thanks again for doing this for me.” I wipe my palms on my jeans; I’m flooded with all kinds of emotions. She smiles kindly to me in the mirror. She picks up my hair and runs her fingers through it.

“I promise this beautiful hair will make a lot of children happy; it’s quite a lot to donate. Do you have any ideas about what you want to have done? Has it really been over ten years since you had your haircut?” She continues to rake her fingers through my hair.

“Yeah, my daughter, Jenny, wanted long hair so bad and couldn’t have it. She didn’t have control of her hands and fingers. But she would take my hair in between her fists and run her hands back and forth through my hair. She was obsessed with long hair. Laura, her grandma, was convinced she treated my hair as her security blanket. She’d get super upset if I ever got it cut.” I smile, and Aunt Betty squeezes my shoulders. “I’m looking forward to a new beginning Dawn. I’d like to have long bangs if you think I can pull them off.” I nervously giggle. “I’ve only had bangs once, and it was in the nineties. I remembered loving them, my Mom, not so much.” I laugh and see Aunt Betty wipe tears under her eyes.

Dawn picks up my hair again. “With your pretty, youthful heart-shaped face, bangs will look great. I’m thinking, thick, longer bangs to highlight your cheekbones. The length cut up to your shoulders with some long layering around the face. Highlights and lowlights to give it depth and shine. Your hair is thick and healthy; it’s going to be so awesome. Are you ready, honey?”

“Yes, I’m ready,” I say with my stomach and heart in my throat.

Dawn puts my hair in four low ponytails, then quickly cuts them off. I feel a sense of profound sadness at the loss of hair. It’s another realization that my sweet baby is gone. But a sense of lightness and peace are present, too, fighting to be set free.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Aunt Betty smiles nervously.

Dawn hands me the ponytails to see and hold. I run my fingers through the hair laying in my lap. I’ve been prepared for this. I don’t know why I feel like I can’t breathe.

“Annie?” Dawn calls quietly.

I look up at the two of them in the mirror. “I’m sad, but I’m okay.” I shake my head back and forth. “Wow, I can’t believe how much lighter I feel.” I force a smile and hand my hair back to Dawn, trembling.

“Thank you, Dawn. I can’t wait to see what it looks like.”

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