c2000 Martin

Joanne was sweeping the floor of the hair salon where she worked. After that hectic Friday she finally had time to get rid of the hair on the floor. It had been one of those days she hated. Several women with gorgeous long hair had come to get it bobbed and although she had asked them if they were certain to go through with it she had had no luck in changing their minds. The fact that she herself wore her hair in a bowl cut hadn't supported her arguments either.

She knew all the excuses by now: "I'm getting too old for long hair", "My friends say I look better with short hair", "I'm through with this hair, it's too much trouble to care for". One of them managed to add: "But you can't understand that. You've got short hair, so why not me?" Joanne grinded her teeth when she thought back to the woman who had said that. She almost had started a fight about the remark. Ever since she was a little girl Joanne had been a genuine long hair lover, but her thin hair had prevented her from becoming a longhaired woman herself. She had chosen to become a hairdresser just to prevent the destruction of all those magnificent manes she admired, but now had to conclude that she had ended up destroying that which she loved. She sighed and looked in the mirror at her hair, just touching the top of her ears. Oh, how she wished she could grow it really long.

"Excuse me, but are you still open?" a voice asked. Joanne was startled and turned around. A woman with thick raven hair down to her hips and deep blue eyes stood in the doorway. Wow, what a beautiful hair, Joanne thought. "Yes, of course," she replied. "What can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if you can still help me? It's kind of late," the woman said. It was five minutes before closing time.

"That depends on what you want me to do," Joanne answered, looking at the black waterfall on the woman's back. "Just a trim?"

"I'm not sure, I'm turning 46 next week and a lot of people in my neighborhood think it's time I start acting my age?"

"Don't tell me, you want me to bob your hair, my goodness, not another one," Joanne couldn't stand it any longer. She was tired and getting edgy.

"Pardon?" the woman replied. She sounded surprised but her face didn't express any emotion.

"I'm sorry, madam," Joanne said, "but I've had several customers today with that same request. And frankly, although I did a great job, if I say so myself, they didn't look better than they did when they came in. I hate to destroy a good head of long hair."

The woman smiled friendly. "Am I wrong to presume you would love to grow your hair yourself?" she asked.

This sign of understanding made Joanne open up and she expressed her thoughts to this stranger. She told about her frustration not being able to grow her own hair long, being her lifelong pain.

The woman smiled again and said, "Ok, just a trim then."

For the first time that day Joanne enjoyed her work. The black tresses felt great between her fingers, their texture was great and she was glad she wasn't forced to cut them off. When she was finished, the woman looked at her reflection and said, "A job well done, worth a nice reward." She started gesturing and speaking in a language Joanne didn't understand.

When she had finished the woman told Joanne, "Too many hairdressers nowadays are scissors-happy, but you want to create real beauty. Therefore, I've cast a spell on you to give you what you've always wanted. In less than a fortnight you WILL have the hair you've always wanted."

Joanne looked at her in amazement and opened her mouth to say something, but the woman continued. "However, there's one catch. YOU and only you can determine the length your hair will reach. From this moment on every 24 hours your hair will double its growth rate. When you reach your desired length you must want it to stop growing. Just think 'Stop' very hard. After that your hair will never grow longer, nor will it ever be necessary to trim. It will always stay the same length and be in perfect condition. This is my gift to you, make good use of it." And with a flash the woman disappeared.

When the last sparkles had gone before her eyes Joanne looked around. There was no trace of the woman, nor of the trimmed hair that had to be on the floor. "Ok, you're losing it, girl," she said to herself. She cleaned up the salon and left for home. She soon forgot about what she thought was a daydream, or was it?

* * *

A week went by and another Friday came. Joanne got up in the morning, enjoying the idea that after that day she would be having a week off. Away from all the haircutting that had been going on for the entire week. My goodness, she thought, all those lame excuses to get their hair cut off. It's a darn epidemic.

Still a bit sleepy she entered her bathroom and put on the light. She looked in the mirror. At first it didn't get through to her, but then she noticed. Her ears were almost halfway covered by her hair and her bangs reached past her eyebrows. She touched her hair. Wow, it felt good. Thick and soft. The strange woman in the salon a week earlier came back to mind. Hadn't it been a daydream, or was she still dreaming? Joanne pinched her arm. Ouch! No, she was wide-awake. It hadn't been a dream? Which meant?

It began to sink in: she was getting long hair! Her heart started beating faster as she calculated the speed of growth. After seven days, she concluded, her hair must be growing almost an inch a day! That day she worked with a smile on her face and actually managed to talk a customer out of getting her long hair chopped off. Her colleagues noticed that her hair had grown a bit and one of them asked during lunch if she needed a cut, but Joanne smiled and said: "No way, no more cuts for me. Not ever. I've decided to grow it out real long."

* * *

The next day her week off began. It couldn’t have been a better moment to change her appearance. Her hair now covered her ears completely and she had to brush her bangs out of her eyes. My, she found the change exhilarating.

As the days passed she could try out more and more new styles. By Tuesday her hair had gained over another foot of length and at Wednesday evening she could almost sit on it. Joanne loved to wear it loose, taking off her clothes and feel her body be caressed by her hair.

She started to realize, though, that the increase in growth was getting into the big numbers. Remembering the words of the dark haired woman she had to decide at which length she wanted to stop, but couldn't come to a decision yet. So when she got up the next morning her hair had reached her ankles and was growing almost half an inch an hour.

"What shall I do? Where to stop?" she thought while looking at her reflection in the mirror. Her former bangs now streamed down over her cheeks and her body, all the way to her feet. She looked at her thick mane covering her all over and knew it still wasn't long enough. She decided to postpone her decision for a couple of hours and put her hair in a bun. A few hours later she had to redo it, because her hair again had grown some inches.

When she went to bed she still hadn't decided and with her hair now trailing behind her she went to sleep. That night she dreamed she didn't want her hair to stop growing, even though it was getting in the way as its growth progressed. She could see it grow now; it flowed across the floor and started piling up against the walls. Higher and higher the mounds of hair became, until an avalanche of thick shiny hair rolled down on her. It was like a flood, reaching to her lips and then enveloping her completely. She felt how she got warmer and warmer as her hair grew faster and faster. Breathing became harder and harder and suddenly it hit her: she was going to suffocate!

Sweating all over Joanne woke. It was the middle of night. She checked her hair: it had grown immensely while she was dreaming. She knew it was time. "STOP," she thought very hard. "Please stop getting longer. I want to keep my hair this way!" She felt herself getting dizzy and passed out.

The next morning she looked at herself. Her hair had indeed stopped growing and she liked what she saw. It trailed behind her by quite a bit and she started to measure it. Wow, she thought, when she saw the result. Her hair now was twice as long as she was tall.

* * *

When Joanne returned to her job that Monday she got a lot of admiring looks. When she told what had happened her colleagues didn't want to believe at first that the big bun she had put her hair in was for real, but when she let it down they couldn't but admit that she was telling the truth.

From that moment on Joanne had a different influence on her customers. If a woman came to the salon to get her long hair reduced for all kinds of silly reasons Joanne didn't have much trouble to talk her out of it. Sometimes she even undid her bun to show her own magnificent hair that never got longer and never got damaged, to support her arguments. Most of them then agreed to a small trim, some even decided there and then to grow their hair even longer.

The woman with the raven hair and deep blue eyes however was never seen again.

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