extract from short story

Catriona Yule


‘Right Mrs Martin. We'll just get you seated over here. That's it. Now what would you like today?’

‘Just an inch off the back please.’

‘And how about the top? How about a few layers just to give it some body?’

‘No thanks, I just want rid of the split ends.’

Ruby Martin looks up through her fringe, watching the hairdresser titivating.

She doesn't like getting her hair cut. There is always the uncomfortable notion that hairdressers are trying to create the trendiest style — and she isn't it. She can see that the hairdresser's face has already switched to the off position. Sensible. Boring. She nods her head in agreement with Ruby's unadventurous choice but her detached vibes are screaming: Jesus, put some life into it. Go for the highlights. Be a devil. What about bright red. Bring out the natural tones in your hair. Now that would be worth warming the scissors for.

She winces as the girl combs the tugs in her hair sleek, away from her brow. The girl is wearing shiny eyeshadow that brings out the darkness of her eyes and a sleeveless pink t-shirt to set off her tanned skin. Ruby used to wear tops like those before the bags of skin started to hang from the tops of her arms. Now she covers herself up like a person in a polythene bag.

She's relieved when the cutting finally starts. The whole business is taking too long and there is an awkward silence now that the girl is concentrating on the task at hand.

Snip, snip. Snip, snip.

‘Doing anything nice tonight, Mrs Martin?’

‘Not especially, just having a quiet drink at home.’

Snip, snip. Snip, snip.

‘Not a party animal eh? My Davy says I drink like a fish. Can't get enough of it.’

‘I don't really drink much, just a few glasses of wine.’

‘Very sensible. You know, your hair's in very poor condition. Have you been pregnant recently?’

Their eyes crash in the mirror.


Published in The Lemon Tree Magazine, 2003
(The Lemon Tree)

Lemon Tree, December 2003

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