All That Glitters Isn't Gold by Joelsweet
Allistair patted Shiloh on the shoulder comfortingly.
“Don’t worry. You trust me, don’t you?” Shiloh bit his lip and looked away.
“Sure,” he said, sounding unconvinced. Allistair shifted his hand to his boyfriend’s unbound hair, and the blonde visibly tensed.
“Oh, relax Shy, it’s just hair,” he laughed incredulously.
“I know, but…” Shiloh sighed, and his muscles loosened a bit. “I’m just nervous, I guess.” Allistair continued stroking the thick mass of straight, fine strands.
“Don’t worry, it’s going to be a major improvement.” He gave the slightly taller man a peck on the lips.
“Just not too short, okay?” Shiloh requested quietly. His partner only laughed in response, causing him to feel slightly sick with dread. He dragged his feet as they walked, and his heart pounded in trepidation. For the millionth time, he wondered how he’d gotten roped into this. If only he wasn’t so unassertive…
Shiloh just didn’t want to disappoint Allistair. And Allistair wanted him to cut his hair. He’d been bugging him for months with, “You’d look so good with short hair,” and “Isn’t it heavy?” and “Your hair is so excessive.” Finally, Shiloh had caved in.
“Shy, you should cut your hair,” Allistair had suggested. Without thinking about anything besides his desire to please his boyfriend, Shiloh had agreed. “Great, let’s go right now! There’s a barber shop down the street from here.”
‘Oh God. What have I done?’ Shiloh had asked himself.
But it was too late. And now here they were, walking into the parking lot of a very traditional barber shop that he’d driven past a hundred times, but never entered. It felt like a nightmare, really. How had he let himself be talked into this? Anxiously, he rolled up the sleeves on his casual button down shirt just for the sake of having something to try and distract himself. It didn’t work. Allistair opened the door and held it for Shiloh, but he hung back.
“Come on.” The blonde’s hand was grabbed and he was pulled forward. His eyes scanned the room, taking in the large, white, fake leather leather barber chairs positioned in front of mirrors and the clippers hung on the racks attached to the wall. There was only one other customer there, and he was already getting dusted off and uncaped, his fade freshly cut. Shiloh felt his stomach drop when he saw how short it was. The man’s tight curls were a quarter inch long on top, and had a gradient all the way to bald on the edges.
The barber draped the cape over the back of the chair and the customer stood up, feeling his head. He procured and counted some bills before handing them to the barber, who took them and tallied them again. The cash was pocketed, and the man walked out. On his way, he saw Shiloh and gave him a smirk. Anger bubbled up inside of the long-haired man. What had that look been for?
“Which one of you is my next customer?” asked the barber, looking Shiloh up and down like a hawk sizing up a mouse. The blonde winced and ducked behind Allistair, who caught his arm and steered him back in front.
“This one is.” The barber grinned when he heard this.
“Great. If it was you, I’m not sure what else I could do with your hair besides take a straight razor to it!” Allistair laughed, and Shiloh considered making a run for it, but the grip on his arm was too tight.
“This is my boyfriend, Shiloh.” The aforementioned boyfriend waved shyly and nervously, holding his arm close to his body and barely raising it. He attempted a smile, but it came out as a fearful grimace.
“Well, come here Shiloh, and take a seat.” The barber patted the chair, but it seemed anything but inviting. A pudgy siren beckoning a beautiful soldier with a long mane to his doom.
Shiloh forced his unwilling feet to trudge along the navy blue and white checkered tile. He lowered himself into the chair as if it had spikes protruding from it.
“Just wait a minute.” The barber took a broom that was leaning against the dark blue wall and began sweeping the fallen curls into a pile in the corner. Shiloh grabbed the arms of the chair as the heavy nylon cape was fastened around his neck and the barber tugged his hair out from under it. He felt a comb being ran at an agonizingly slow pace through his locks. He heard the barber whistle under his breath.
“That’s a lot of hair you’ve got here, Rapunzel.” Shiloh blushed, embarrassed. He looked over to see Allistair striding towards them.
“Beautiful, isn’t it? There’s way too much of it, though!” Shiloh stared down at the cape, ashamed, and chewed on his cheek. Affectionately, his lover pulled the golden strands through his fingers. “I want him to look more manly.” His hand closed into a fist around the locks about halfway down the length. “Here, can you tie it where I’m holding?”
In the mirror, Shiloh saw the barber nod and pull a ponytail holder out of his apron pocket. Allistair must have seen the look of panic on his partner’s face when his hair was bound, because he assured,
“Don’t worry, that’s not where it’s going to be cut.” His eyes positively sparkled with mirth. The band was tied right below the middle of Shiloh’s back. He hated the idea of it being that short, but he supposed he might eventually get used to it. He blinked rapidly to keep his tears at bay. Allistair noticed this, and embraced Shiloh. “Aww, don’t cry. You’re going to look a lot better.” The caped man just dipped his head, fearing that he would begin sobbing if he spoke. He loved his hair a great deal, but he wanted to make Allistair happy more.
“He’s going to cry?” the barber asked unbelievingly.
“Oh, he’ll be fine. He’s just being a big baby about his hair.” Allistair kissed his distraught beau and stepped back.
“If you say so… How should I cut it?” Allistair grinned at the question and whispered something Shiloh couldn’t hear into the barber’s ear. For a second, the barber looked unsure.
“Are you sure?”
“Okay…” A pair of clippers was grabbed from its shelf, and the guard was removed.
‘He’s just going to cut through the ponytail with the clippers at mid-back length,’ Shiloh told himself hopefully. ‘I trust Allistair,’ he reaffirmed, although he didn’t know if he really believed it.
As the clippers were switched on, a loud noise filled the air in an instant, causing his body to jump.
“Easy there,” comforted the barber, chuckling. Shiloh’s sweaty hands were clenching the arms of the chair so hard that he was sure his knuckles were white. His heart sounded like a drum in his ears as fear consumed his system. In a flash, he felt something that he thought he’d just imagined at first. He opened his eyes (they had been squeezed tightly shut) and gaped in horror. This couldn’t be happening. Suddenly, he found himself unable to dam the flood of tears, and they began rolling down his face. There was a strip of stubble down the middle of his head from where his hairline began all the way to his crown. He moved a shaking hand from under the cape, felt the bristly hair left in the wake of the blades and then covered his mouth, sobbing.
“Keep going,” he heard Allistair direct, unfazed. “He’ll get over it.”
Shiloh felt the blades mow from his crown to his nape in one smooth, effortless stroke.
“Maybe we should just leave it like this,” Allistair joked. Nobody laughed. The barber lifted up the heavy, silky tail and began shaving underneath. Shiloh closed his eyes again, unwilling to watch the destruction take place. He cried silently as the back of his head became completely clipped. The last time his hair was this short was when he was a kid. What would his friends say when they saw him?
Shiloh could feel the severed strands brushing against the back of his neck gently, and the barber attacking with the clippers on the right side of his head. The buzzing sound grew unbearably loud as the arch around his ear was sheared. The clippers came in from the top again, shaving off the last of the locks on the right side of his head. Involuntarily, his neck leaned to the left from the weight difference. The cool air of the room was freezing against his newly exposed scalp. It was an awful feeling to him, and he wanted to throw up. Four more strokes of the unforgiving blades to his soft hair later, the ponytail fell away.
Shiloh’s eyelids lifted and he didn’t recognize who he saw looking back at him in his reflection. A crying, scared, red-faced little boy was there.
“I just have to even it up,” the barber explained to Allistair, who nodded approvingly. Shiloh watched as the little tufts of slightly longer hair were shorn away, and then floated down to rest on the cape. The barber handed the ponytail to Allistair, who wrapped it around his shoulders like a scarf teasingly. Shiloh’s cape was removed, and he stumbled out of the chair in a daze, water still dripping down from his eyes. The amused boyfriend handed the barber some cash, and then called over to Shiloh, who was leaning against the wall for support as he tried to process what had just happened.
“Come, on, let’s go.” Shiloh looked over to see a slightly annoyed Allistair and a pitying barber. “Stop acting like a child,” his partner scolded lightheartedly, but there was a hard edge to his voice. Obediently, Shiloh walked over to him and was kissed on the lips. He turned his head away, avoiding eye contact. “Aww, come on, it’s not that big of a deal.” Shiloh’s rage began to reach a boil. How dare he? He wasn’t the one who had just been humiliated and betrayed. Allistair reached to take his hand, but he snatched it away.
“How could you? I trusted you,” Shiloh hissed.
“Don’t be that way, Shy. You look a lot better than before. You just need some time to adjust.” Shiloh glared at him, furious.
“Yeah, I do need some time. Without you.” He whipped his severed hair from around Allistair’s neck and shoved open the door. He stepped outside, leaving behind Allistair, who didn’t understand why his little Shy was so upset.
Shiloh practically ran down the street, careful not to let go of his ponytail as he tried to put as much distance between him and that shop as possible. Allistair didn’t follow. He sat down on the curb in front of his apartment building and weeped and weeped and weeped. He felt a light tap on his shoulder and looked up, angrily demanding,
“What?” He’d been expecting to see Allistair to be standing there, but instead he saw the man who had been the barber’s customer before him. “Oh, sorry,” Shiloh mumbled. He saw the man’s eyes shift down to where the long ponytail was grasped in his hands. The man’s dark eyes widened.
“It’s you. From before.” Shiloh nodded, and looked down at his feet. The man sat down next to him. “What happened?” he asked, seeming concerned.
“My boyfriend… Well, ex now, I suppose… He had me shave my head.” The man looked confused when he heard this.
“Why on Earth would he do that?”
“He told me I’d be more attractive this way, so I agreed to it.”
“Sounds controlling,” the man remarked. Shiloh swallowed.
“Now that I think about it… He kind of was. I was always seeking his approval. I never realized…”
“What a shame,” observed the man.
“What is?” Shiloh asked, defeated.
“That you realized after you shaved your head. You had very nice hair” The man smirked, like he had earlier.
“Are you being sarcastic?” Shiloh questioned, a bit hurt.
“No..? Oh man, sorry, it must be my smile.” The man looked apologetic.
“You smile?” Fresh tears had stopped coming down the blonde’s face, and he wiped away the trails left on his cheeks.
“Yeah. People always think I’m sneering at them.” Shiloh couldn’t help laughing a bit when he heard this, but his breathing was still coming out in sobs, and he almost choked.
“I did earlier,” he admitted. The man laughed as well. It was a clear, sincere sound; then he stood up and helped Shiloh to his feet.
“My name’s Boris. Hope I made you feel a little better.”
“You did, thank you.” Shiloh gave Boris a shy smile. “I’m Shiloh.” Boris outstretched his hand to shake his new acquaintance's.
“Nice to meet you. I just moved into this building, so it’s nice to meet some locals.” He sighed. “Well, I have two papers to write, so I’ll He turned and began walking away.
“Bye!” Shiloh called after him.
“Oh!” Boris turned to look over his shoulder. “By the way, I think you’re hot with or without your hair.” He winked, then faced forwards again and continued away. Shiloh smiled contentedly and then pulled out his phone to delete Allistair’s contact. He would have no more controlling boyfriends.
(Hope you like this. It was a lot of fun to write.)