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Minimalism by Zero

[AUTHOR´S NOTE: Regular readers know that teen angst and strained relationships are my jam. Well, here I am, trying something a bit different and taking a break from those the generational clashes and hurt/comfort stories that I usually write and giving other stuff a shot. Love it? Hate it? Feel free to let me know in the comments!]


He would always watch him in the bathroom buzzing his head. He would always see him pass the hair clippers all over his scalp and turn his face in the mirror, and examine the back of his head with his hands when he did it. The weekly buzzing of the machine announced the immediacy of his boyfriend’s grooming routine.

He would always flash him a smile whenever he caught him staring in silence. Perhaps crack a joke or two about needing to get his money back from the barber he was seeing, or hear an invitation from his boyfriend to get the same done.

He always laughed it off.

Richard’s face was made for it. He didn’t need bangs or sideburns to balance out the proportions of his features. If anything, his short buzz cut "with only bristles left" enhanced them.

On the other hand, Andrew had always preferred to wear his hair long. He didn’t mind fussing with his unruly, wavy locks every morning.

He thought they were a couple based on contrasts. They were opposites, compliments to each other. Richard was transparent, curious, experimental, outspoken and direct like a bullet. He had always been more cautious, diplomatic, introverted, guarded. They balanced each other out.

It seemed only another natural divergence between them.

He thought it was part of the reason he liked him so much. Why his magnetic attraction to him was still as strong as the first day.

Also, he really liked how Richard’s hands felt inside his mane, how he tugged and pulled whenever their lips met.

Still, every time he saw the back of Richard’s buzzed head as he removed the growth and reduced it to that transparent velvet, Andrew couldn’t help but feel curious.

In the bathroom cabinet, he always found his boyfriend’s hair clippers.

And the occasional, sarcastic offer Richard made him to allow him to cut his hair had him imagining it at times.

Perhaps one day, he would tell himself. Perhaps not.

"I need a haircut, badly" Richard told him as he leaned over the balcony. The moonlight and the shadows drew and chiseled his features.
"You’re not the only one".

He saw a playful smirk in his boyfriend’s lips in response. Andrew admired him quietly and leaned in to kiss him, holding the back of his head close to him. He caressed his overgrown buzz cut fondly. It had been a couple weeks since the last time Richard had cut his hair. A layer of black, dense fuzz covered his head now, where he would usually see his skin through.

Andrew guessed his usual number two buzz had grown into a three or four. He loved it at that stage, when the bristles had turned into soft, dense velvet.

"Can I help you out with that? I know a really great barber and you won’t even have to leave home or wait until Monday".
Andrew knew that was a cue "I’ll get it on Monday".
"Alright then" Richard moved his glass of whisky in circles "I could still recommend you my barber".
"I don’t think I can afford your barber" he joked.
Richard laughed and secured the back of his head in his hand, holding into his long hair tightly and brought his lips to his "He may do it for free for you".
Andrew took another sip of his own drink "You insist so much, you’d have me thinking you want to cut my hair if I didn’t know you better".

Richard didn’t say anything. His eyes escaped from him as he looked at his almost empty glass, appalled. Then he watched him recline further on the balcony and bring a hand up to his neck.

The reaction was so unlike his boyfriend, it hit him right away.


"Wait, so this is not a joke?" Andrew put his glass aside "Richard, do you actually want to cut my hair?".
Richard gulped "I’d like to. But only if you agreed!" he rushed to add, shooting up his hands "I wouldn’t like cut it off while you were sleeping or anything creepy like that".

Now he was concerned by the possibility of waking up with a chunk of hair missing from his head. He set that thought aside. He was going to get to the bottom of this.

"Okay. Thanks" he decided to give him that for not taking advantage of the situation when he was sleeping "But how come I never knew this? How come you never told me?".
"Well, I didn’t know how you would react!".

So, his boyfriend had a hidden, secret calling in barbering. He could understand that. He thought he could. Richard was a crafty, artsy kind of guy who worked with his hands. He was a sculptor, after all. It made sense. He guessed other options were a lot worse. It sounded harmless, like if he had revealed him he was into something a little more than the rest.

Still, by his reaction, Andrew could tell this was a private thing. Maybe he was the first he had ever told about it. But, it could be interesting. Maybe he would let him cut an inch off or trim his bangs, which were starting to drive him insane.

Or maybe, Richard had different plans.

"And… how…" he rephrased the question "What kind of haircut did you… or do you have in mind?".
His boyfriend’s face turned red "A clipper cut".
"Like an undercut?".
"I was thinking something short all over, actually, like giving you a buzz" Richard’s tone diminished, but he still caught what he said.

His eyes darted to his boyfriend’s fuzz-covered head.

Richard was a minimalist in many senses, so maybe he applied the same principles to personal appearance and harbored a closeted dislike for long hair he didn’t know of until today?

He may or may have not swallowed heavily and shot a hand up to his own long tresses unconsciously.

There was a beat in their conversation, as Andrew thought about something else to say. He tried to banish the absurd minimalism and long hair loathing theories to the back of his mind. But still, he needed to know.

"So, you don’t like long hair?" Andrew pushed his soft bangs back from his face softly.
"I do! I love your hair!" Richard grasped a couple of his long locks in his hand "But there’s something about very short hair that’s just like… je ne sais quoi for me" he let go of the tresses.

Oh, it was a ´Je ne se quoi´. A literal ‘I don’t know what but it does it for me´. He laughed. It was a show to see his usually eloquent boyfriend turned into a mumbling mess and resort to the French he learned abroad to say nothing at all.

"Oui, oui, Richard" he mocked him, doing a terrible impression of French accent.

Andrew finished his drink. He tilted his head skyward. What he heard was amusing, and a bit unsetting and slightly freakish. The movement of his face brought his hair hanging further down his back, almost to his shoulder blades.

He really couldn’t picture himself with a buzz cut. Even if he did wonder what it would be like, even if he envied how practical his boyfriend’s haircut seemed, despite the bi-monthly maintenance regime.

"Also, I’ve noticed you watch me cut my hair all the time and I don’t know why I thought that you… I thought you’d like to try it one day. I think you’d look breathtaking with a buzz" Richard muttered.

Andrew felt the tables turn on him. It was now him the one that was exposed. He couldn’t think of a way to dismiss the observation. His brain put two and two together. Richard wanted to cut his hair short and he… he wanted him to do it?

No way. He couldn’t.

"Well, I guess we can both pretend this conversation didn’t happen so things won’t get too weird" Richard rubbed his eyelids "Good night" he gave him a peck on the lips.
Andrew smiled and watched him head back inside "Good night".

The next day was a lazy Sunday morning. Andrew picked up a book after breakfast and sat down by the living room. Still, he couldn’t focus on the words. His mind was anchored on one thing: Richard wanted to cut his hair.

They had been together for two years. For how long had he kept it from him?

He gave up on trying reading. Andrew headed to their bedroom to put it back on place for the time being. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Richard in the bathroom shirtless. His sleeve tattoos fully visible, as his perfect, athletic back. He caught sight of him in the mirror and gave him a smile.

He heard him turn on the hair clippers. His curiosity heightened. He was mesmerized by the sound. Andrew wondered how it would be to have them touch his hair. How it would feel to have them over his own head. At times, it was almost an urge.

Of the two of them, Richard was the experimental one. He was always the one with ideas "good, and bad and dangerous and tempting and everything in between-, and inventiveness. The artistic one that continued to get his pieces accepted in more exhibitions every year.

(That was great in bed. Andrew had welcomed every single of his advances, responded to them like gunpowder to fire, letting it them consume him and light up his very core).

He loved that.

He had introduced him to thousands of things. If there was a person in the world with he felt like doing things he had never done before, it was Richard.

Perhaps buzzing his hair off was one of those things.

Before he had any time to think things longer and back down, Andrew built up courage and approached him "I want to give it a try".

The next thing Andrew knew was that he was taking off his shirt and Richard was propelling up a chair for him in their bedroom. Andrew didn’t want to have a mirror nearby. He knew himself and was aware that getting a front seat in what would be a rather dramatic haircut would only make his nerves worse.

So, he would be going in blind.

His pulse was quickening and his face was growing hot.

"Are you sure about this?"
"The truth? Absolutely not" he replied "But I want to, and I want to do it with you".

Richard extended his hand to him with a grin on his face. Andrew took it in his own; his boyfriend’s hand was warm to the touch. The heat of his palm was comforting. He let him lead him to the chair, with his hand intertwined with his.

"Alright then, what blade number do you want me to use?" Richard kissed his knuckles lovingly.
"I leave it up to you." he ran his fingers through his long, light-colored hair "I trust you".

Richard brought his pair of hair clippers from the bathroom and placed them on a table nearby with an attachment on. It was the same black machine he used on his own head. Andrew had never seen it so up close, before.

"Aren’t you going to cut it with scissors first?" he asked him.
"You want it buzzed, right? That’s what I’m going to do" his boyfriend answered, massaging his shoulders. "You just relax now. Close your eyes. Just enjoy it. I promise you, you’re going to look amazing when I’m finished".

He accentuated the words with a soft kiss on his upper back. Then Andrew saw him pick up the hair clippers. Richard flicked the switch and they came to life. He pushed his chin to his chest and started on his nape.

Andrew felt them ascend from his neck slowly, into his hairline and then follow the shape of his skull slowly, in a prolonged pass, beyond his occipital bone, up to the very top of his crown without stopping.

Then, he felt the first, heavy clumps dropping from his head. And then, regret struck him like lightning.

His heart started racing.

"Do I have some hair left back there?" he was alarmed.
"You’re beautiful. You don’t need it" he massaged his shoulder and brushed off a couple stray, severed locks "And you will. Just relax".

He breathed deeply.

His boyfriend began to make a second pass, right next to the first one. He closed his eyes. It would help if he didn’t watch his hair falling around him. Richard was right. He needed to calm down if he was going to do this.

He abandoned himself to the sensations.

They felt nice. The hair clippers felt good on his head. Their pulsations against his skull were unlike anything he had felt before. The blades were cool, but the machine also emitted pleasant warmth. The guard went through the locks like a comb and the metallic teeth followed their path.

He felt another good seven inches leave his head, sliding down his back to the floor without weight or resistance. It sent shivers down his spine.

Richard finished on the back and moved to the right half of his head quickly. He was methodical. He guided the clippers with his own hand, taking a section and securing it in place before buzzing it off. Andrew appreciated the predictability, the pattern of his movement.

That hand that caressed each of his locks for the last time was the same that shorn them down to a fraction of an inch a second later. He loved and hated it. He loved Richard’s loving touch, and he hated the sensation of his hair being cut off entirely when the clippers plowed through it. He liked how the clippers felt, even if he hated what they were doing.

The clippers went across his right temple and he felt the locks cascading to the floor, sliding across his torso and colliding with his shoulder.

He tried not to focus on the amount of hair that was coming off with each pass.

He decided to resign himself then, make peace with the fact that his hair was going to be gone for a while and set the regret aside.

He had come here in pursuit of the unspoken urge, beyond his ability to comprehend it, to have Richard cut all his hair off. And that was what was happening.

He savored the sensation. The coolness on the side and back of his head as Richard buzzed his hair off. The clippers were alien, yes, but not unwelcome. This was an unplanned, far too drastic haircut, but he could still enjoy it for what it was.

It was his boyfriend who was doing this. The one who had confessed to him that he wanted to cut his hair short and he received the clipping gladly, after months with interest building up inside him.

This was the logical end to that. It was how his curiosity and his longing met.

Andrew took a good deep breath as he felt another large clump of his dark blond hair cascading down.

Minimalism. Beauty in austerity. He thought once more.

He pictured of Richard carving a wooden piece, how he would approach it and chisel the surface, until a sculpture emerged. How he removed with his tools everything that seemed non-essential for his work of art, anything excessive.

This wasn’t different. For his boyfriend, his long hair was a surplus.

He was treating him like one of his art pieces, getting rid of what he considered was superfluous and needless in him, as he shaved and sheared him to his liking.

Andrew could find the beauty in letting him carve him however he saw fit. There was sensuousness to it.

There was an appeal to having his hair clipped short by him. It was an act that was happening in intimacy, with public and visible consequences. His boyfriend was cutting off all his hair, stripping him of it and he wouldn’t be able to hide that.

For some reason, that was entrancing.

Richard finished denuding the other half of his head. Then, he placed the clippers on the right side of his forehead and pulled back. The sensation of his hair being mowed down by them was otherworldly for him.

He was finally relaxed as he started worked on the top of his head. The buzzing sound of the clippers had become pleasant in his ears.

"You have a scar here" Richard made another pass.
Andrew blinked in surprise "I do?"
"Yes… it’s gorgeous" he traced it with his index finger; it was a short, thin slash just below the top of his head.

With the movement, he could hear the sound of the bristles made, what the clippers were reducing his hair to, as they bent in the direction of Richard’s finger and then back into place with stiffness. It felt really good.

Andrew smiled. Richard had explored his body thoroughly. He knew every single of his moles, he knew the constellation freckles of his back like a map, that left breastbone protruded more than the other. For him, discovering whatever marks had remained hidden underneath his hair must be the most fascinating thing in the world.

He couldn’t wait for him to start pointing out every of those.

With one final pass of the clippers and he felt the last of his long locks detaching themselves from his head. Then, Richard started running them all over his head again. Andrew liked them even more now than no more of his hair was left to cut. They vibrated closer to his scalp with the length of his tresses gone.

His head was light and cool. He had no idea how short his hair actually was (he suspected it was less than an inch long) or what he looked like. All he knew was that he had been captivated by the feel of the clippers and his boyfriend’s hands on his clipped pelt.

Suddenly, without a warning, the hum of the clippers died.

His boyfriend had finished his barbering session.

He waited for Richard to speak first. Then, Richard placed his free hand over his head. He could feel his fingertips on his scalp as he did, through the short velvet he had left. He relished his touch, like something he didn’t know he had been starved of until then.

Andrew heard a soft noise behind him. Quickly, the hair clippers were back in view for him again. The attachment had been removed. He could see the stubs of light hair clinging to the blades, contrasting against the black case.

"May I? May I use them like this on you?" his boyfriend held the machine without a guard in front of him "May I shave all this off?" Richard petted the bristles on top of his head.

Then, a click again, followed by that hypnotizing buzz.

He showed him the bare blades of the clippers, whirring and growling in his hand, awaiting his response. He found himself craving to have them touch his head once more. He was almost eager for it. He nodded "Yes".

This time, Richard brought them to his forehead first. Andrew closed his eyes.

Without a guard, the cold blades bit into his scalp as Richard pressed them against his skin. He felt them peeling away the fuzz he had. The metallic teeth stripped every single strand on their path off his head and shaved it down to stubble.

The tiny clippings rained down on his forehead and stuck to his skin and ears. Andrew let his impromptu barber shave around his entire head and toss it back and forth.

Richard cupped his chin, lifting his face. Andrew felt the whirring blades over his hairline, from his forehead back. They made a rough, rasping sound every time they touched his head. The noise sent both shudders and fervor through his body. The machine shredded the scarce remains of his mane and the sensation was an ordeal as it was a thrill.

It was addictive, having him denude his scalp completely.

"I’m taking all this down to a nice, even zero buzz. I’m giving you a proper and much needed clipper shave" he purred in his ear as he removed the bristles from his temple.

Andrew smiled silently. It became more than obvious to him then that he had wanted to do this for a very long time, for far longer than he had imagined at first.

Richard was being a perfectionist with him. He was detailing every single inch of his head, scanning with his eyes, inspecting. It was almost like he was afraid to make it less than perfect. He acted like he would be judged for his performance. He was focused as he shaved his head. His undivided attention was on him, on making sure it was all flawless.

Like he was working on a piece of art he was going to submit for a gallery.

Andrew assumed his role as one of his works of art, to remain complaint, non-resistant and accepting of all of his aesthetic decisions.

He liked that. He took it as one of the purest signal of his affection.

Of their mutual affection for each other.

He had offered him all his hair and Richard was showing his rarest and most private side: his quiet, tender, most inner self.

And in turn, he was bringing out the rare, carefree and placid side of him. It was a dormant, comatose part of who he was.

It was good to have someone with he could be that sometimes.

He had loved Richard's hands in his hair, he loved when his fingers tugged his locks in a steel grip when they kissed, he loved when his fingernails scratched slightly on his scalp, he loved was gentle too and just caressed his mane.

"A fine zero all over" his boyfriend announced as he turned off the clippers.

He didn't have his luscious mane anymore; it had been shorn down to stubble.

He loved Richard's touch on his nearly shaven head. He loved when he felt his hand brushing off the hair he had cut off himself from his naked shoulders. He loved the way his warm fingertips felt through his stubble. The firmness when he steadied his head to work around it again. How he explored a recently shaved spot with his thumb before bringing the clippers back again.

His exposed nape had a heightened sensitiveness.

"Head down".

Andrew bent forward and heard a different buzzing. Richard brought an electric shaver up and down his neck. It felt like a massage. Then, he finally looked at the hair that surrounded the chair.

The discarded clumps still glistened. The massive amount of them covering the floor was appalling. Richard turned off the shaver and blew softly into his neck. He brushed off some more loose clippings with his hand. Then Andrew reached out to touch the back of his neck with both hands. The prickly stubble he had left now brought to light for him the reality that it was his.

His abundant, long mane had been devastated.

It had all been shaven off, in an act that was true to the principle of retaining only the bare minimum, only the essential.

He accepted and embraced that. His boyfriend had disposed of his all his hair, deemed it unnecessary, as he carved a masterpiece in him.

"You look so perfect" Richard caressed the stubble of his head as he walked in front of him "I want to keep you shaved like this" he took his hand and intertwined it with his and kissed it tenderly "Will you let me?".
Andrew knew that was a cue. He answered without a trace of doubt "Always".

His boyfriend’s mouth came to his. He fingered his shaved nape, passionately. His hands tracing and exploring his stubble sent electricity to his core.

He was exhilarated. At the same time he felt freed and liberated. Richard made him explore other expressions of freedom and what it meant through intimacy. Having him shave all his hair off had been like another exercise of both things.

He had taken him from a silky shoulder length mane that was his pride, to a shaved head, barely covered with rough sandpaper-like stubble. He had gladly given it up and surrendered it to him.

Andrew knew he would do it again. He would sit and let him shave it all off all the times he wanted. Deep in his heart he knew it, with the certainty of his own name.

He found himself looking forward to having his boyfriend barber him again.

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