AUTHOR'S NOTE: Those of you who have hung around this group (where this story was first submitted) for a while may have remembered a story I wrote about Karen, a girl with beautiful brown hair that fell most of the way to the floor, and Joey, a kid with a crush on her, and her incredible hair. I felt like paying Karen another visit, and wrote this. I can't pretend to know what motivates a woman to grow her hair to incredible lengths, but hey, Karen is my little creation, so she can think whatever I want her to. Anyway, here goes:

(a sequel to First Love)
c1997 jmhlhl

She was sitting in her favorite chair, legs crossed, her brown hair pulled forward over her shoulder, loosely framing her face, and half covering her right arm as she wrote.

Dear Joey,

How are you doing? Guess you are about ready to head off to Tech, huh? Janet told me about your scholarship - congratulations!

I'm staying in Berkeley for a while at least. I thought I'd go for my masters. Besides, I kind of like it out here. A girl with long hair is a little more common sight here in the Peoples Republic of Berkeley!

No, I haven't cut it yet, don't worry! In fact, it has grown close to a foot since I last dropped you a line. I can't believe that my hair is still growing! It's over seven feet long, and quite a handful to take care of. Of course, I have this beautiful brush that somebody gave me. It fits my hand so well, sometimes I think it is part of my arm. I still use it every day, Joey, and am amazed that sweet little punk kid who gave it to me is going to be a college guy now!

I know you will do great at Tech, and you'll probably break a few hearts, too!

I have to take care of my hair now and get to sleep. Say hi to Janet for me, and take care.

Congratulations again Joey!

After signing the note, Karen tucked the card into an envelope and put it on the end table with a few other things she would address and mail in the morning. She then glanced down at her hair, which tumbled over her legs to the floor below. As she did most nights, she slowly pulled it up into her lap, waiting in suspense for the ends to appear.

No matter how often she went through her nightly ritual, Karen was amazed at her hair. So thick and silky, so healthy, and oh, so long! She figured it was about seven and a half feet long - close to two feet laid on the floor when she stood up. "Just lucky, I guess," was how she answered people when they asked how she got it so long.

She certainly couldn't explain it, nobody could. Tammy, her best friend, tried growing hers longer, but it looked terrible once it got past her shoulders. Tammy put it all in perspective for her when she said, "Girl, you have a gift! How many other women have hair like yours? How many others wish they had hair like yours? Take good care of it and enjoy it!"

Karen picked up the brush with the worn handle and started taking soft, easy strokes through the last foot of her hair. Yes, she thought, Tammy was right, it is a gift.

She looked down at the brush in her hands - it was wooden, with a large handle and carved flowers on the back. The color of the wood matched her hair - dark brown, with just a touch of red. It did feel great in her hand. She felt every little tug or bobble as she stroked her hair with it.

Not all nights were so quietly fulfilling, though, Karen thought. Tammy's comment had another side to it, she knew. Sometimes, her hair felt more like a burden than a gift. She remembered back to last year, and Daniel.

Karen and Daniel went out for quite a while senior year. Daniel wasn't like most of the other guys, who only seemed to want to have sex with her hair. Daniel never mentioned her hair while they were getting to know each other, and Karen thought it was a refreshing change. They got along great for about six months, and Karen started thinking they had a very special relationship. Daniel was bright, good looking, and a gentleman, and they had many common interests.

Then one Wednesday afternoon Karen discovered that her hair, seven feet's worth, wasn't one of those common interests. For as long as she could remember, Wednesday night was hair night, one of the two nights a week she set aside to wash her hair. Daniel had seemed to recognize this, and respect her need for time alone, but one Wednesday, he asked her if she wanted to get some dinner. She declined, as she always did on Wednesday night, and said "You know I do my hair on Wednesdays!"

Instead of politely deferring and suggesting something for Thursday, he snapped back "You and that hair! It is just in the way. I think you should cut it." Karen was stunned by his outburst, and walked away. The next day, she confronted him, saying she was hurt by what he said the night before. Things quickly heated up again.

"I'm serious, Karen!" he said in reply. "You are just a prisoner of all that stupid hair. Why don't you just cut it off. Let the real you come out from under it all. I can't stand all the time you spend on it! I have a pair of scissors inside, let's do it now!"

Karen was crushed. She actually thought about cutting off her magnificent tresses, and if Daniel hadn't been so blunt and hurtful, she might have done it that day. He later tried to apologize, but she was too confused and hurt to even talk to him. Hurt by his insensitivity, but confused partly by seemingly conflicting demands. She loved Daniel because he liked the Karen under all the hair, but now she didn't like him because he wanted a Karen without the hair.

She fell into a funk, and asked herself: "WHY?" Every Wednesday night for the previous nine years, and many weekend nights, she stayed in to take care of her hair. Each year it took a little longer, as her hair grew to the floor and beyond. "Why didn't I cut it before? Why did I let it grow so long? Why can't I cut it now? Why do I bother?"

Karen started growing her hair when she was nine. It was an easy decision - not even really a decision. All of her school friends were growing theirs. In fact, in her closest circle of friends, her thick, shoulder length mop was the shortest of the group. In three quick years, her hair reached her waist, and was beautiful! She learned to treat it delicately, and though she enjoyed wearing it loose, she was always careful to protect it.

One by one, Karen's friends cut their hair. It especially hurt her to see Pamela Barnes come to class one Monday without her below the waist blonde hair. While Pamela looked real cute in a pixie, Karen could see a sadness in her eyes that betrayed her outward good cheer. Karen stuck to her guns, though, continuing to let her hair grow. By the end of seventh grade, she had the longest hair in the school.

While her friends all seemed to enjoy copying each other's hairstyles, Karen found out she relished being a little different. Her fast growing locks set her apart from the crowd, made her unique in a pressure packed crowd of conformity.

Karen's high school years were, like they were for most teenagers, a time of transition and change, a time of finding oneself. She grew up into a confident and attractive young woman. She endured probably the ultimate trauma for a teenage girl moving between sophomore and junior year. Her hair proved to be the best therapy during this trying time. She spent more and more time with it when she was upset or homesick. Her hair also served as a great icebreaker with her new classmates. She was as unique in her new school as she was in the old.

She went from being a girl with plain, almost common teenage hair, to a young woman with extraordinary hair. It grew from her thighs to almost her ankles, and seemed to look better every day. Her mother remarked that her then five feet of hair looked perfectly natural on her, like it was "just meant to be." Spending a lot of time taking care of it seemed like second nature to Karen, just a part of life, and one she knew she enjoyed.

Her hair attracted a lot of people - ladies would stop her and ask her about it at the mall, her girlfriends always wanted to help her brush it out, and boys were turned on by it. And then there was Joey, her best friend's little brother. He was a pest at first, but be became kind of like a kid brother. She talked to him once in a while, teased him some, and enjoyed his doting adoration. He was just a little Junior High school kid.

Then Joey gave her the brush. He caught her completely by surprise. It was the most beautiful gift she had ever received, and was a treasure that she still used every day. This little act of puppy love by a little kid made her realize just how special her hair had become, and made her realize there was no way she could cut it. She let Joey brush her hair with the brush, and was surprised and a little aroused at his gentle touch. Sweet little Joey!

Karen started college with a thick brown curtain of ankle length tresses that turned heads all over campus. Though she really enjoyed having it so long and free, she decided she would grow it longer through college, and grow it did! She enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new and interesting ways to braid it, and wear it up, and loved letting it down in her room at the end of the day. Time she spent with her hair was a private time, a chance to reflect on the day, and make grand plans. Her hair was a refuge, a great tent she could retire into to escape the problems of everyday life. She became known on campus as the girl with more hair than body, and then just as 'The Hair.' Though she sometimes felt as though people wanted to talk to or be friends with her hair, rather than the Karen underneath the hair, she loved having such a large and beautiful trademark.

She also felt the pressure on her increasingly demanding schedule that her floor length crown brought to bear. Skimping on her hair care ritual was a poor but sometimes necessary alternative. Karen's hair showed it even if she waited an extra two days to wash it, or if she rushed through brushing it. For a majority of the time it was heaven with her hair, but the frustrating moments and doubts came with an increasing frequency. She often thought about cutting it back, if not off. Thigh length or knee length hair would be much easier, but those arguments always were forgotten when she started brushing.

And then came Daniel. All the questions and justifications and reasons and doubts of the last fourteen years, her defining trait, the biggest part of her, brought up and cheaply tossed aside by one man she loved, yet knew she could never be with again.

For a whole month, she only left her room to eat and go to class as she sorted through the intense emotions and questions. It was hard for her, but she realized everything was for the best.

The ring of the oven timer interrupted her thoughts, and she realized she was most of the way through her brushing routine, working her way up from the ends. She stood up, holding her hair off the floor with her left hand, and retrieved a loaf of bread out of the oven. She came back to her chair, the apartment silent again, and picked the brush off the seat.

She examined the brush again, closely, feeling it in her hands as her hair fell to the floor. The wood was so smooth and solid! She ran her hand over the flowers carved into the back, and felt each little line as she had a few hundred times before. She touched the bristles with her fingers. They were firm, yet soft. As she looked down at the brush, hair fell over her right shoulder. It felt so smooth and soft against her skin. It fell across her toes, a feeling she knew she would never tire of.

This is why, she thought, taking the brush in her right hand, slowly pulling the mass of silk around in front of her, and starting to brush. She slowly brought the brush down through her hair, her left hand following, as she had done a million times before. She reached down as far as she could, and then started again, slowly, lovingly.

The room disappeared, and all Karen could see was a column of hair, rippling with every stroke. She felt it in a pile at her feet, nestled against her ankles. She felt the weight of it gently pulling down. Every minute change - the tug of the brush, the shifting of her feet, even the sliding of a group of strands to her shoulder- was felt as though she were one with her tresses.

She finished brushing, savoring every stroke, and gingerly lifted her hair, pulling it around behind her again, allowing it to spill over her shoulders and surround her in softness. She loved this sensation best of all - nearly every single inch of her body touched by her hair.

She thought back to what she told her father, who upon seeing her for the first time with hair touching the floor, asked her what could drive her to such lengths. She repeated it aloud: "Oh, Daddy, I just love it! It's all mine and I love it!"

"And this brush", she added silently. This brush certainly shows that a little love from an unexpected corner can go a long way!

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