In Search of Hair

Photo by Tore F on Unsplash

I was tired of dropping bodies in my stories, so this was the result.

Asher shook the purple wig in the young employee’s face. “Is this the cheapest one you’ve got?”

The employee bit his lips. “You’ve been told before. You’ve been here for three hours. You’re disturbing the other customers.” 

Asher looked around the empty store. “What customers?”

His face turned red. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave, ma’am.” 

“Fine.” Asher threw the wig onto the floor. The employee made a little gasp. It flopped wistfully before settling down. She marched down the aisles and out of the store, frantically adjusting her even cheaper, obviously fake plastic wig as it threatened to slip off her head. 

She didn’t stop walking until she reached the door to her apartment. After wrestling with the keyhole for a while, the door opened with a disturbing creak. Clothes were littered all over the floor, giving off a strong odor. She carefully stepped over them and headed to the bathroom, which wasn’t any cleaner. The sink lost its original color long ago. She walked towards it, keeping her eyes on the floor. She took a deep sigh, then looked up in the mirror.  

She hated her wig. Hated it. What else could she afford though, when she could barely cover the cost of food and rent? She got it two years ago at a secondhand store, just when she started balding. She was pretty sure there were better wigs out there that were expensive and already bought by everyone else. She looked so pathetic. She ripped the wig off her head, then immediately regretted it. She looked even worse. She placed her hands on the dirty sink and silently wept. She repeated this process so many times that she didn’t have tears to spill anymore.  

Baldness was a curse for then twenty-year-old Asher, who was mentally stable and lived a much better life. She had a dream of becoming a model. Then when she started to lose her hair, all hell broke loose. She was diagnosed with alopecia areata. As soon as she heard there was no cure, she ran away from her mother, got a job somehow, then two, then three… she couldn’t count them. She shrugged, and her reflection copied her. It didn’t really matter when she had been jobless for a month now, having been kicked out of her last workplace for being “unstable” and “unreliable.” I can redeem myself, Asher remembered begging, crying all over her boss. He just walked out of the room. 

She picked up her wig from the floor. It was wet and covered with unidentifiable matter. Gross. She dropped it. 

Crouching low so she wouldn’t see herself in the mirror, she backed out of the bathroom, leaped over some more clothes and walked through the open bedroom door. It was already dark outside. She looked out the window. The city was just as loud as it was during the day, which wasn’t surprising. Stores were just starting to close one by one, the bookstore around the corner, the butcher shop in front, the… 

The hair salon. What did a hair salon have? Hair. Hair that Asher did not have. She had an idea: a terrible one, but brilliant for sure.  

She picked up the darkest clothes she could find around her and put them on. They didn’t smell too bad. She pulled out her drawer, found the revolver, and put it in her pocket. She didn’t even know how to use it. Just in case, though. 

Only when she got off the elevator and headed towards the crosswalk did she unconsciously touch her head to realize she didn’t have her wig on. Whatever.

Asher walked over to the hair salon. Everything was dark inside. That was a good sign. She hesitated, glancing at the door and back at the window. Shoot the handle with her pistol? Dumb idea. Everyone in the city would be coming for her. Open the window? She could try. She struggled a few times, and was about to give up when it gave way with a pop.

The window was big enough so that she could step inside. She stood in the darkness for a while, giddy at her own success and genius. The owner probably never thought anyone would rob his store. I mean, why would anyone? The owner probably wasn’t even here right —

The door in front burst open, and light flooded into the salon. The owner was here, after all. And she was a woman. 

Speaking of the woman, she had the longest hair Asher had ever seen. A Rapunzel with black hair, basically. She was in the most casual grey shirt and sweatpants anyone could manage. 

“Why are you here? I mean, you’re…” she pointed at Asher’s hair, or the lack of it. 

“Bald?” Asher hadn’t prepared for this scenario. She whipped her gun out, trying her best to look like a proper criminal. The woman took a step back. The revolver wasn’t even loaded, but of course the woman didn’t know that. With steady hands, Asher held it in front of her. 

“Hair. I need hair.” 

“Okay.” The woman slowly raised her arms above her head. 

“Now!” It was not a scream but rather a gurgling cry of desperation. Asher needed it to happen. She needed real hair, hair that she would never be able to buy on her own. Her revolver shook in her hand. 

The woman’s eyes shifted towards the gun. 

“Look, I understand how you feel.” She took a step towards Asher. Asher flashed a warning glare at her. “I get that you’re in a lot of —“

“I didn’t come here for your lectures. I came here for hair. I know you have them somewhere. Dig them out of the trash. Whatever.”

“I —“ 

“Your sympathies mean nothing! Nothing! Look at you with your pretty face and long hair, look at you with a stable job, money, family —“ she said, pointing at a picture on the wall, presumably of the woman’s family. Maybe not. She didn’t care anymore. 

She dropped to her knees. Her voice broke. “I — I just need hair.” 

Her revolver dropped to the ground, and she started sobbing uncontrollably, so loudly that it echoed all around the salon. She couldn’t stop crying. Her tears were burning hot. After a while, her tears took over her vision and it was all blurry, and before she knew it, she felt a hand on her shoulder. 

Asher looked up, mascara running down her face. The woman was holding a razor in her hand. Asher’s mouth opened. 

Without another word, the woman sat down in a chair, put the razor to her healthy and impossibly straight hair, and started to shave. She obviously had experience. Clumps of hair fell into a box, and by the time Asher was wiping her mascara off her face, her mouth still hanging open, searching for words to say, the hair was threatening to overflow. She never saw a woman bald before, other than herself. But here the woman was, voluntarily shaving her own hair. Becoming bald. Becoming like her. One snip at a time.

When the woman was done, Asher managed to find something to say. 

“Why are you doing this?” 

Shh,“ the woman simply said. 

So Asher sat down on the floor like a baby watching her mother as the woman wove the hair together. None of them said a word. When the sun rose, five or six hours later, the woman was still going. Asher did not take her eyes off the woman, not once.

The woman rose from her chair. She turned towards Asher with a huge grin on her face. 

“Is this enough for you?” 

Asher stared at the wig for a second and snatched it out of the woman’s hands. She put it on her head and stared in the mirror to make sure she wasn’t making this up in her head. She looked like a real person again. Her face scrunched up. She started crying. Again. The next thing she knew, she was in the woman’s arms. They stood like that for an uncomfortable amount of time, one bald and the other with hair, just like before, but not quite. 

Asher had an idea. She pulled herself out of the woman’s arms. The woman stood flabbergasted as Asher reached for a random scissor, pulled off her wig, and started snipping through the hair. 

She handed the hair to the woman. 

“No one is bald anymore.” 

She put her shortened wig back on. She looked in the mirror one last time. There. She looked more like herself. Without turning back, she pushed the front door open. 

It was cold. The wind no longer touched her scalp. 

Maybe she could go to an audition today. 

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The Ghost Town Robbery

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I want to make it clear that this story mentions suicide.

Eight days. 

That’s how long it took for Farzana to reach this town. She came to the right place. Remote, but not in the middle of nowhere. She could blend in if she ever would need to. A town everyone left during the day to go to work. 

She parked her car at the very end of the street. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t hers, it was her foster parents’. Her seventh. The ones that she ran away from eight days ago. The ones that probably worried more about their car’s whereabouts than their foster daughter’s safety. Fuck that. 

She opened the glove compartment and took out her five-dollar ski mask, the most she could afford. She didn’t mind. After this, she would have more than she needed. She pulled on the mask and turned the mirror towards her. She snickered. She looked hideous. She looked even less like a professional robber and more like a lost twelve-year-old. Then she reached the back seat of her car and dragged out her ragged skateboard. It took a bit of effort. At least I’ll look like a cool twelve-year-old. It had a cartoonish cat drawn on it and a middle finger painted above. She didn’t even remember how she got it, or when. 

She took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. The empty street made the houses look like a collective ghost town. She walked across the street in broad daylight. Running was a bad idea. She slipped behind the first house she laid eyes on. 

She peered inside. The lights weren’t on. But she had to make sure. For another thirty seconds, she carefully listened to any signs of people inside, but heard none. This is it. She lifted her skateboard above her head and thrusted it towards the window. The skateboard simply bounced back. She quickly looked around. Still no one. She leaned the skateboard backwards as much as she could and tried again. 

The window shattered dramatically, some of the pieces landing on Farzana’s hands and feet. 

“Fuck!” she whispered. 

At least it was enough for her to open the window by reaching inside. Abandoning her skateboard outside the house, which she didn’t care about anyway, she climbed inside. She hadn’t used it how it was supposed to, not since graduating from middle school. 

The house was eerily dark, suffering from a severe lack of windows. Too organized, too. Farzana wrinkled her nose in disgust. It reminded her of the house of her fifth foster parents. They were freaks. She would never let her own house be this clean, if she would ever live in one.

She sneaked towards the kitchen counter to her right. Marble. Ugh. There was barely anything on the surface. Do these people even cook? She crouched lower to touch the handle of a drawer. Maybe she would find priceless dishes inside that she knew people never use. She hesitated. Her hand pulled the drawer open. 

Hunter woke to the sound of breaking glass. The first thing he did when he stood up was to rummage through the boxes in his closet. Then he found it. A Glock 41. He had kept this gun for years, letting dust settle on it for occasions exactly like this. Even his girlfriend didn’t know about it. 

It sucked that Alma wasn’t here today. He didn’t like being alone, especially not now. He loaded his gun. He quietly slipped through his already open bedroom door, fingers closing around the pistol. 

More sounds came from below. Is it the kitchen?

It sounded like it was. 

His socks made not a sound as he moved down the carpeted stairs, one by one. He raised his arms, pistol held steadily in front of him. He knew what he was doing. He had had practice. If anything came in his or Alma’s way, he would not hesitate to shoot. 

When he reached the last step, his eyes took in his new surroundings. A shattered window, for instance. He groaned. How much did he have to pay for that? 

He knew it was a girl, because the figure in front of him had a yellow hoodie and black jeans with incredibly long and extremely untidy hair that bounced off her back as she opened drawer after drawer. 

“Turn the fuck around!”

She didn’t. Instead, her hand reached towards the knives gathered together and grabbed the handle of the biggest one.

Bang.

He missed his first shot. The girl turned around, her eyes wide — 

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Five shots. Three hits. Not bad. It was over in less than five seconds. Her body slid down the floor, blood soaking the front of her hoodie. She had a ski mask on. He smirked. He leisurely walked towards the body and yanked the mask off his intruder’s face. 

It was his girlfriend’s face. 

He dropped his pistol. Clonk. He froze, his eyes wild with unsettled confusion. His hands trembled as he slowly reached for her face, then shook it from side to side. 

“What have I done?”

Before he knew it, his hands were full of kitchen towels. He dropped to his knees. He tried desperately and uselessly to clean up the endless stream of blood pouring onto the previously spotless kitchen floor. 

“I don’t understand.”

He moaned, his face in his hands, body rocking back and forth. For how long he stood there, he wasn’t aware. But less time had passed than he thought did as he heard the distant jingle of keys from the direction of the front door. 

Who else? Hunter picked the pistol back up with his hands now caked with dried blood. He was ready. Soon enough, the door opened. 

“Hunter? Hunter, what the —“

Bang.

Alma grabbed her right arm with a piercing scream. 

Bang.

“You’re not real.” The pistol shook in Hunter’s hands. Tears streamed down his face. His eyes were unfocused, staring at something outside of this world. “You were fucking dead, Alma.”

Bang.

Alma dropped to the ground, lifeless like a stuffed doll. “I killed you. You’re not real. You’re not real.” 

Bang.

“You’re not real.” 

Hunter paused. He pressed the barrel to his head.

Bang.

Silence.