Post #1 (Transformation)
“Well, well, who’ve we got here? I almost gave up on you. Jaime Watkins, right?” Sarena Hawke teased as she approached me, eyes focused on my curly blonde mess of hair that had grown past my shoulders.
“Sorry I’m late,” I muttered, dropping my stuffed shoulder bag on the floor. “I know it’s been ages since my last cut, but thanks for waiting on me anyway.”
“You moving out or in?” Sarena asked, staring at the bag.
I paused. “Neither, really. It’s just a new outfit to wear after you work your magic.” Sarena held the title of best hair dresser in Santa Fe and had the awards to prove it. I was betting on her making me a new woman. She just didn’t know it yet.
“So what’s it going to be?” Sarena asked as soon as I sat in the styling chair. “About an inch off the length and some highlights?”
“Actually, I’m looking for more of a change. Color me auburn with a chin-length bob. Straight.”
Sarena gasped. “Oh dear child, you can’t be serious!”
I chuckled because Sarena only had four years on me and at thirty-nine, I was hardly a child.
“There’s no god that can help your hair if I do what you ask.” Sarena shook her head and backed away from my hair, as if she feared it would suck her soul from her chest. She muttered words I couldn’t understand, probably some kind of Apache prayer.
“Aren’t you being a little dramatic? It’s just hair.” Although Sarena had 1/8 Apache heritage, she played it up one hundred percent, even adorning her shiny dark hair that reached the small of her back with feathers suspended on leather strands. Her lighter skin gave away the fact that she had another 7/8 in her genetics–a large portion of her being she chose to ignore.
“Why…how…are you sure?”
I sighed. “Yes, I’m sure. There’s not a mandatory waiting period for hairstyle changes, is there?” I hoped my joking tone would ease her apprehension.
“Maybe there should be,” she finally muttered before heading through a curtain of beads hanging in the door frame to the back storeroom.
While Sarena rummaged in the back, I turned the chair and stared out the window. Sarena’s salon, aptly named WILD HAIR, sat in one of the oldest flat-top adobe plazas near downtown Santa Fe. Next door, to the east, an upscale jewelry store sold hand-crafted turquoise and silver jewelry. Samantha Starkey’s real estate office shared the wall to the west. I don’t–but if I did have money, Samantha would be my agent of choice because she only sells million dollar homes. Across the plaza, a couple stood in front of a shop window, bundled in coats and snuggled into each other to ward off the chilly March winds. Their entwined arms blurred as my eyes over-focused on their touch. The urge to cry caught me off guard, especially since it’s the first natural emotion, other than anger, that I’ve experienced for over a month.
The swooshing and clicking of beads summoned my attention. I turned the chair toward the mirror as Sarena set several bottles on the counter.
“Last chance,” Sarena asked hopefully. “You can still change your mind.”
I shook my head. “Decision’s already made. Let’s do it.”
When I didn’t feel her hands in my hair, I looked in the mirror and saw her biting her lower lip.
“You’ve been through a lot lately. Don’t you think it’s hasty to do something this drastic? You may hate yourself tomorrow.”
I involuntarily cracked a smile. “Hair grows back. I can’t regret a decision that fixes itself.” I have other plans that may result in self-loathing. I kept that thought safely tucked inside my head.
“Very well,” Sarena said sadly. “If you do not care, I shall not either.” In one shocking snip of the scissors, she removed the hair up to my neck. “No need to color hair that won’t be there.”
I glanced at my pained expression in the mirror and realized why she felt the need to explain her action. My face relaxed while the master of beauty began my transformation. I felt like a caterpillar spun into a cocoon and at any moment, a beautiful, butterfly would emerge. I closed my eyes, anticipating the moment when I would open them and see someone else in front of me.
After styling my hair, Sarena dramatically spun me around to face the mirror. “There you go,” she said proudly. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”
My laugh trailed off when I turned my attention on the dark-haired woman in the mirror. I reached out and touched my reflection. My eyes were the only part of my face that couldn’t keep the secret, but I had a fix for that, too. “I love it,” I said sincerely and hugged Sarena.
“Do you mind if I change clothes in the back?”
Sarena raised an eyebrow slightly. “Go right ahead. Hot date tonight?”
“No. But I’m making other plans.”
I rushed behind the beaded curtain with my shoulder bag. Several minutes later, I emerged in jeans, jade sweater with denim jacket and a coordinating plaid scarf and new boots. The clothing was a departure from my normal skirt-and-heels routine, but to pull off the new me, I had to be different. I even wore colored contacts so my blue eyes now matched the color of my sweater.
“Wow,” Sarena muttered as she looked me over from head to toe. Her gaze stopped at my feet. “Hiking boots?”
“Yep!” I offered no other explanation. I paid Sarena and added an extra fifty dollars. “If anyone asks, I wasn’t here today and you haven’t seen me for several months.”
Sarena looked at me suspiciously and slid the bills off the counter, into her pocket. “Until today, that was true. You’re not in trouble, are you?”
Not yet, I thought. Instead, I explained, “I’m not ready to give away my new look. It’s a surprise.”
I pushed open the door leading to the plaza and bumped into a man tall enough to shield the late afternoon sun from my eyes. His hands grabbed my shoulders to keep me from stumbling backward. His voice struck a note of familiarity in my mind, so I tilted my head back slightly to see his face. My heart beat faster. A shiver slid down my back. I stifled a gasp and willed my disguised features to not betray me.
Continued Next Week…