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Lost in (Your Voice) Translation-Part 1 by Fantasy Weaver


I have been meaning to write a story with a barberette, so this is one. I have another that I had started writing but found that it wasn’t to my liking, so I’ve got this for all you barberette fans. This story won’t be quite as saucy as my male-on-male fiction, simply because that’s how this story is planned out. Plus, after reading through the survey I made not too long ago, I thought a change would be nice, and so this is the result of that.

To those of you who know how to speak French, have fun reading this story! To those who don’t, still have fun reading it! Though you might be just as lost as our protagonist… Why French? Because along with English, that is my mother tongue.

Aiming for two or three parts, but it’s not set in stone yet. I’ll see how this goes.

-Fantasy Weaver

Note:

1: Some foul language ahead

Lost in (Your Voice) Translation

Part 1

XXXXX

Deep breaths. A sip of water.

Move. One, two, three, four…

Exhale.

When in the f*** would it end?

He glanced up, spying the top of the never-ending hill.

"Okay. Come on. A few more steps…" he encouraged himself. No one else could.

He grit his teeth, groaning with effort as he lifted his sore, aching legs on the dusty slope, arms trembling as his grip on his walking poles tightened, the sweat in his palms absorbing into the cork handles.

"Ah...don’t stop, you’re almost there" he ground out between his teeth.

The top was in reach; just another step-

He stumbled. An alarmed gasp left his mouth.

A scream ripped from his throat.

He shook, hands still gripping his poles, though now they laid beneath him as he held himself on all fours. He cursed, sweat dripping from his nose. Now wasn’t the time to fall flat on his stomach. He knew he wouldn’t have the will to get up after.

His twenty-pound pack, though considerably lightweight compared to the first time he had done this, felt like it weighed a ton on his back. No. Up. He had to keep moving.

He lifted himself painfully, hissing as his left ankle throbbed. Not a good sign. But he had to continue. The village was right over this hill.

Every step made him wince. And still he walked; one pole in front of the other, one step at a time.

He could see the quaint village in the valley of rolling hills and wildflowers. Respite lay there. He just had to make it.

XXXXX

Damian finally, blessedly, collapsed on the inn’s bed, sighing contentedly.

He had made his way down into the village to the inn he had called a few nights prior to reserve a bedroom. It was one of the few stops where he could resupply and rest, if only briefly. Sleeping on a bed, while not the softest he had felt, would be a pleasant change to lying on his sleeping pad on the hard ground in his tent.

He moved his foot, reminded none-too-kindly about the pain in his left ankle. He would have to tend to that immediately, if he wanted to get a move on. Two days. He would give himself two days to heal, then he would continue.

Lifting himself, he carefully hopped his way to the bathroom, and sitting on the ledge of the small tub, he turned the knobs and pressed on the diverting valve, guiding the water into the shower head. Steam rose up from the bath.

After discarding his clothing, Damian stood in the shower, mindful on balancing his weight on his right foot. The water was hot, cascading over his sore muscles deliciously. He looked down, and cringed. The runoff was a peculiar greyish-brown. It had been a while since his last thorough shower…

He washed his body and hair with the provided soap and shampoo bottles from the inn. He thought about his dirty clothes, knowing for a fact that there wasn’t a laundromat in this motel. He would have to wash everything by hand in the tub. ‘Oh well. Better than nothing’ he mused, hands scrubbing shampoo in his chocolate brown hair.

After drying off a bit, he made his way to his pack and took out his first aid kit. Taking some elastic bandaging, Damian wrapped his sprained ankle tightly, breathing slowly as the pressure on the aching muscles and tendons took precedence over the pain. He dimly wondered if the innkeeper would spare him some ice, as he had a feeling that he would be doing much other than letting his ankle rest.

The man leaned against the bathroom counter, light brown eyes taking in his reflection. At least now he looked somewhat presentable, despite his hair being quite overgrown and his face being covered with a generous dusting of brown stubble. He was clean, at least. A laugh escaped him as he recalled the way the innkeeper had wrinkled his nose at him. In the old woman’s place, Damian would’ve probably done the same thing. He had no idea just how bad he had smelled, seeing as he had gotten used to it.

‘Embrace the suck, and the stink’ he reminded himself. A hiking trip couldn’t truly be a success with sucking at least once, and without his body odour making the plant life wither wherever he stepped. He tried to avoid that with people, at least.

Naked, he padded back to his bag and retrieved all his dirty clothes. Actually, now that he had showered, Damian coughed at the stench of his clothing. "Wow. Disgusting" he mutter to himself. Washing them was imperative before going out in the village. Luckily, this wasn’t his first rodeo of a hiking trip; a Ziploc bag -within a Ziploc bag- in his bag contained a set of what he called "rest stop clothes". Unless he had a particularly long stretch of hiking to do, he never put them on. They were specifically to don when he was among civilized people.

Civilized? Him? Not for the past three and a half months.

Back home, he led a very normal life in his small apartment. He had a job at a national park near his home, but every year he went away for a while to spend time doing his favorite hobby; hiking. This year however, he had decided to take a full four and half months away from his country to tour a few European countries by foot. The process of preparation had been a long one, having taken well over a year to fully prepare.

In a month he would be back home. The thought still made him wonder what that would be like, considering how long he had spent away from people.

‘Never mind that’ he shook himself mentally. Now was not the time to think about his trip back home. He had stuff to do.

After a thorough hand-wash of all his dirty garments (which, as expected, turned the water the same murky grey as before), Damian let them hang from the shower pole and towel hooks to dry.

Feeling refreshed, he wore his new set of clothes consisting of a simple black tee, form fitting navy shorts and his sandals, which felt divine upon his sore feet. A look at them revealed a normal sight for him at this point; bruised toes, callouses, a peculiar bluish-purple coloring under the nail of his right foots big toe.

He sighed. Even if his feet were not the prettiest thing to look at, he loathed the thought of putting them back in his hiking boots, at least, for today. Even if the support for his sprained ankle would probably be better, to be able to stretch his toes out in the cool summer air felt almost divine. No. Screw the hiking boots.

He retrieved his wallet and cell, which had been charging while he showered, and took the room key with him as he exited the small bedroom. Today was a Sunday, so he couldn’t go to the post office to retrieve the package he had sent himself. He could pick it up tomorrow when the office would be open.

Despite his better judgement, he walked in the village, enjoying how quaint yet lively it seemed. Considering this was a common rest stop for tourists and other hikers like himself, Damian guessed that a lot of the stores and cafes were quite welcoming of the people here for a visit, as that was just more money in their pockets.

The village had both asphalt roads for cars and cobblestone streets through which he found himself enjoying his stroll. He wobbled a bit on his feet, seen as his ankle was a little worse for wear, but he tried to ignore it and concentrate on all the vibrant assortments of flowers in vases, blackboard signs in front of restaurants and tourists taking selfies.

After much deliberation, he decided on spending some of his money on a light lunch at a small diner. The menu outside had boasted about using local ingredients, and whether or not that was true, Damian couldn’t care less. The smell of food had his stomach rumbling. How he longed for something other than rehydrated spaghetti and freeze-dried fruits.

After having been seated on a terrace shaded by a pergola, and being serviced by a waitress who -thankfully- spoke English, the man enjoyed a cup of iced coffee while waiting for his meal.

As he was seated beside the restaurant’s wall, where a line of windows were situated, his brown eyes caught his reflection in the glass. He hadn’t really combed his hair, but the unruly waves seamed tame enough. Maybe his beard could do with a little shaping up, or even a full-on shave.

The weather was supposed to get hotter as the day went by, according to a quick check on his cellphone. Perhaps the mop on his head would become a hindrance. It already got greasy with sweat when he was walking, would stick to him whenever he had it down. To think that he would essentially cook under his chocolate locks by the time he was back out on the trail…

He sucked his teeth in annoyance. Maybe he could find a salon or something to get a trim.

After his meal (and what a meal it had been), Damian took back to the stone-tiled streets, among the other passer-by’s. He winced. Every footfall hurt his ankle, despite the straps around it. ‘Might be best to call it a day’ he initially thought, but stopped in his tracks as his gaze lingered on a charming little storefront to his left.

Before a window were flower beds with sweet-smelling blooms in them. Similar plants grew in a hanging pot by the entrance of the shop, giving the rustic building a beckoning, homely charm. A red, blue and white pole spun lazily by the open door, the hypnotizing spiral of color registering in Damian’s mind as a barber pole.

His eyes went to the window again, which had the store’s name written on it in French. "Chez Pierre - Coupe et Rasage".

Quickly, his mind translated the words, finding them to mean the place offered cuts and shaving services. Funny. Hadn’t he just been musing about getting his mop chopped off for the impending heat wave?

He toyed with the idea. It was easier to have short hair on the trail anyways, he concluded, as it wouldn’t cause him to overheat, or stick to his face, and it required less maintenance. His hand went through his hair, measuring the length. He had a good six inches.

He hesitated despite himself. He was in a foreign country, one which he had very little in terms of knowledge of the language. How would he voice his intentions to the barber?

Then again, this was just like going on a hike. He had little knowledge of the path he was going to take, yet he still managed to get to his destination. ‘Besides,’ he told himself, ‘Hair grows back.’

With a resolute nod, and a slight hiss of pain as he walked a little too roughly of his left foot, the man made his way inside the open door of the shop, and took a moment to examine the interior.

The floor was old, polished hardwood which creaked under his weight, and the walls which had once, in an age long past, been white, where now a dull cream color, with a strip of wallpaper around the whole perimeter of the rectangular room. Two cushioned waiting seats sat with a low, round table between them, atop which was today’s newspaper, according to the date.

An older-style washing basin sat at the back of the shop, with a simple red reclining seat. In front of him, Damian spotted the barbering station, with its mirror sporting pictures of different cuts, and shelves lined with different bottles and lotions he couldn’t put a name to. Except, perhaps, that familiar jar of blue liquid he recalled from trips with his father to shop like this in his youth. What had it been called? Barbicide? That sounded right.

The station had drawers, and a hook on which a white towel hung limply. He could spot wires hanging from beneath the counter, where a drawer blocked the view of whatever was plugged there. In front, a pristine white barber chair with a porcelain frame stood proudly. The vinyl seat seemed much brighter than the walls of the shop. Perhaps it was cleaned regularly.

To the man’s surprise though, no barber was there to greet him. With a name like "Chez Pierre", one would expect to be met with the sight of the man. Damian let himself smile as he sat in one of the chairs. He imagined a man in his fifties, perfectly kept white hair, white tunic, maybe a few pounds overweight, with that same hearty French accent everyone in this village had.

The sound of beads clinking softly together drew his attention away from the chair, to the far right-hand side of the room, where he had failed to notice a doorway with a wooden bead curtain.

"Désolez pour l’attente."

That…wasn’t Pierre. Damian was one-hundred percent sure of that.

Nor was it a man.

The person who came out of the opening was a woman probably around his age. Young, pretty.

And a voice that could stop any person in their tracks.

Damian didn’t know much French, only catching the fact that she was apologizing. But that fact mattered little compared to the sweetness of her voice.

Suddenly, he felt awfully conscious of his appearance. Apart from his hair and beard, his clothes were perhaps a little too casual and disorderly, not quite fitting together. Obviously, comfort had taken precedence over looking his best, Damian knew that. He hadn’t come out hiking to appeal to the other gender (or any gender for that matter).

"Monsieur?" the woman sounded again, perplexed.

The man became aware that he hadn’t spoken since she entered, and immediately stood. ‘Awkward’ he accused himself, rubbing a hand at the unruly locks at his nape sheepishly. "Ah, um, sorry- I mean, uh, désolez?" he could feel his neck become warm under his hand ‘How eloquent’ he admonished himself, his French not sounding as certain as he wished it had.

But then, the woman stared at him, for a moment, before giggling lightly, one delicate hand to her smiling lips. Even the sound of her laughter was everything musical and light, very much in accordance to her looks. He softly curling hair was a flattering shade of caramel, seeming to shine with a golden glow when she stepped in the light afforded by the windows.

She opened her eyes to regard him with what he discerned as amusement and pity for his terrible grasp of the language. The irises that gazed at him were a shade of pale blue, set in an oval face. A few sunspots littered her nose and cheeks, a tad darker than her already tan complexion.

Damian straightened himself, his eyes averting to the floor for a moment as the woman’s glee ebbed away. "Pardonez-moi," she started, face still set in a smile, "Je ne voulais pas vous rendre mal à l’aise." A look at Damian’s confused expression prompted her to reiterate, with much difficulty, "Euh…You do not speak French?"

Now, it was Damian’s turn to chuckle. While the woman had been able to voice her question for him to understand it, she had spoken it with such a thick, uncertain accent, as though she were just as incompetent in his mother tongue as he was with hers.

"Well," he managed through his laughter, "Looks like we’ve landed ourselves in quite a pickle here."

The man lifted brown eyes to perplexed blue ones. The woman had her lips set in a firm line, and one of her brows had lifted. "Pourquoi parlez-vous de cornichons?"

Damian looked at her just as puzzled, until he understood what she was asking him, having picked up on the word "cornichon". Again, he felt his neck reddening, in embarrassment, or something else, he did not know. "Oh, no, no! It’s an expression."

The confusion cleared from her tan face, and she nodded, uttered an "Ah! Une expression; okay, okay."

Alright, maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to come get his hair cut here. If neither of them could fully comprehend each other, he doubted whether he could communicate his wants to her and have them understood.

Then again…

He bit the inside of his cheek, eyes roving over the woman’s kind face. His eyes rested on her lips, where her beautiful voice had come from.

He wanted to hear her laugh at him again.

‘You are such a stupid, stupid man’ his inner voice berated him. But he pushed his subconscious aside. This would just be another experience he could add to his travel log, one he could reminisce about and chuckle at later.

He made up his mind, quicker that he would like to admit, and flicked through the mental pages of his limited French dictionary. This would take a lot of brain juice. He closed his eyes thinking hard as the woman peered curiously at him. After a moment, he opened his mouth, "I, uh, no, Je…" Sighing in agitation, he tried again. "Vous coupez…les cheveux?"

Thankfully, she seemed to comprehend his question. He had that going for him at least. "Oui, bien sûr. Pierre n’est pas ici en ce moment; c’est mon papa. Je suis barbière ici avec lui."

She had spoken too fast for him to understand a damn word other than "Pierre" and "Papa", which he took to mean that the woman here was related to the shop’s elusive owner. That, and a confirmation that she is able to cut hair. Alright, he had enough information to follow with another question.

"Vous…um," he twirled his finger idly, trying to think of the words he wanted to use. How to say he was in need of a haircut? Sighing in defeat, he pointed to his wavy brown locks, "Coupe?"

The reddening of his neck was moving to his cheeks, he was sure, because the woman was trying very hard not to laugh at him (and failing miserably). She moved forward then, causing him to take a step back, but stopped as he put his weight a little too much on his sore ankle. She stopped in front of him, her imploring blue eyes twinkling with mirth.

She seemed to search for her own words for moment. "Repeat after me, oui?"

Damian, one brow lifting at the tone that was being used on him, like a teacher telling him how to say his ABCs’, nodded, confused, "Oui?"

She gave him a smile, and slowly articulated, "J’aimerais avoir…"

He swallowed, now quite certain his face was pink. "J’aimerais avoir…" His voice held that distinct accent, the one where he couldn’t for the life of him roll his "R" like she could, and this seemed to amuse her, but she said nothing of it.

"…Une coupe de cheveux…"

He repeated after her, finding this part of the phrase a bit less difficult to pronounce.

Finally, the woman finished, "…S’il vous plaît"

He averted his gaze for a moment, before returning it back to her. "S’il vous plaît."

Satisfied with her tutelage, she gave him a pleased smirk. Extending her hand, she introduced herself, in her own broken English, "My name is Colombe. Enchanté."

He took the offered hand, surprised by the little finger’s firm grip on his bigger ones. The woman couldn’t be taller than five foot two, a full head shorter than he was, yet she had quite the force in her handshake. Colombe…he dimly wondered what the name meant, if anything, but decided not to dwell on it. He gave his own name, still a bit flustered with having Colombe teach him how to ask for a haircut in French. "I’m Damian. Um, merci pour-"

"Pas besoin de remercier." She winked at him, and despite Damian not having understood, he caught on from her tone that he might be being too polite. He smiled, and listened as she looked in his face. "Damian…" She tested the name, scrunched her nose a bit, and a smirk played on her lips. "Puis-je le prononcer autrement?"

At his confused stare, she scratched her nose, looking for another way to say it.

"Is ‘Damien’ okay?"

Brown eyes widened marginally.

It wasn’t much, just a different stress pattern on the last syllable of his name, and yet she made it sound so different; good different. It flowed from her lips like a cooling wind, easing his frustration at being unable to communicate with her.

But now how he wished he could.

He cleared his throat, trying to tell the blood in his face to go somewhere else. "Oui" he answered simply, eyes looking at anything but Colombe.

He dared a peek at her, seeing her take a few light steps towards the washing basin. "Parfait. Vous pouvez venir vous asseoir."

The man took a breath, and understood that she wished him to sit in the red reclining seat in front of the porcelain washing sink, as she tapped her hand on the seat twice in a beckoning motion. Ah, so she intended to wash his hair first. Alright. He had washed his hair at the inn before, but it had only been with whatever cheap shampoo had been provided in the bathroom. Here, he could spot a shelf with different shampoos and conditioners, so it would probably be better for him to accept. After all, he sincerely doubted one wash had gotten rid of all the grime on his hair.

So he walked to the seat, again, completely forgetting about his sprained ankle, and hissed through his teeth. Colombe noticed this, and as he sat, she inquired in her thick accent, "You are hurt?"

He moved his foot forward a bit, showing the beige bandages -and the sorry state of his feet in doing so. "I sprained my ankle." He watched horror paint itself over he features, and quickly clarified, "Not broken. Just sore."

Relief flooded the woman’s features, one hand over her heart as she laughed at herself. "Ah je vois." She paused as she thought of something, turning an askance glance his way. "Voulez-vous de la glace?"

Glass? Damian’s mind halted. ‘No; ice’ it supplied, and his features cleared. He nodded, and minding his manners, added "S’il vous plaît." He finally remembered that the saying meant "Please".

Colombe nodded, and disappeared through the bead curtain again. Damian heard her shuffling around, opening and closing something, and finally she emerged back in the shop. To his shock, not only had she brought him an instant ice pack, but she also shuffled over and set a small step stool near his injured foot, and placed a round cushion atop it. She looked at him, gesturing to his foot and the cushioned stool in turn.

Quite unused to such hospitality, Damian sputtered, until the woman sighed amusedly, shaking her head at him. Without a word, she took his foot and removed his sandal, before placing his sprained ankle on the cushion, and draping the ice pack over his bandaged limb in turn.

He placed his hands in his lap, self-conscious about the whole process. "M-merci" he stuttered, unsure of what else he could say. But a look at Colombe showed her to be sending him a kind simper.

"Ne vous en faites pas."

He still didn’t understand, but he liked how she sounded when she spoke.

She came back to him, and out from under the sink, she produced a white towel which she tucked in his tee. Then, with a gentle push of her hand on his shoulder, Colombe prompted him to lie back. He did, the red seat reclining until his neck had been caught in the lip of the sink. He got comfortable, and watched the woman -a barberette, he now concluded- as she placed herself to his left.

Her little fingers lifted his chocolate brown hair, and rubbed the strands between them. Damian heard her hum pensively, before she addressed him. "Damien, je ne sais pas où vous avez mis la tête, mais…" Damian’s eyes widened as she lifted a stray piece of hay grass from his locks, and twiddled his thumbs as she giggled at his expense again.

He cleared his throat again, feeling awfully parched. "I uh, do quite a bit of hiking," he explained, uncertain if she even knew what he had said.

But her face lit up, even as she flicked the strand of grass to the floor. "Hiking is ‘Randonné’ in French, oui?"

Randonnée…Yes, he had seen that word pop up quite a bit on the maps of the trail, and had heard it plenty of times while he traveled. He was confident that it was the right word. "Oui" he confirmed, his own lips bearing an entertained tilt.

"Hm," she intoned, grazing her fingers over his scalp. That tickled… "Votre pied; c’est en faisant de la randonnée que vous vous êtes fait mal?"

He searched her face for a moment, deciphering her words. "Pied", "Mal" and "Randonnée" stuck out to him, and decided she was asking if he had hurt himself while hiking. He nodded again, "Yeah, just outside the village."

Her hands left him. He observed her curiously as she reached over to the faucet and turned the water on. He swallowed. Colombe was quite close to him. Her upper body was nearly bent over him as she took the nozzle out of the holder, and Damian couldn’t help but let his eyes rest on the modest rise of her breasts beneath the pastel green shirt she wore.

No. He closed his eyes. He would not reduce himself to being a creep. She probably dealt with enough costumers like that, and he absolutely hated men who held little to no respect for women. As kind and understanding as she was, Damian did not delude himself into thinking she was showing interest in him, at least, other than in a professional way.

The water from the nozzle cascaded over his waves, drenching them from root to tip. "Too hot?" Colombe questioned, the "H" in "Hot" not quite as breathy as an expert of the language would word it. It made it sound like a kid was trying to say it, but he kept that amusing thought to himself and shook his head, eyes remaining closed.

He shifted in his seat to get more comfortable, grateful for the ice on his ankle. Honestly, what had he been thinking, going around walking on it already? He knew himself to be over-eager to get back on the trail, but that was no excuse for putting aside the health of his feet, arguably the most important part of his body if he wanted to continue his trip.

Colombe shut the water, and wrung the excess moisture out of his hair. He didn’t open his eyes when he heard her deposit shampoo in her hands. A subtle scent assaulted his nose. Lemon? Or lemongrass perhaps? Either way, the barberette spread the product in his hair, and scrubbed away whatever dirt and debris he hadn’t been able to get out with his shower.

He laced his hands in his lap, content with enjoying the silence that engulfed the room, broken only by the scrubbing of Colombe’s fingers on his scalp. It felt nice; he hadn’t gone to get his hair cut since starting his hiking trip, and even before that. How many months had gone by since his last visit to one of his hometown’s many parlours? Seven, eight, nine months even? He couldn’t recall. Plus, he wouldn’t be getting luxuries like this while hiking, so he intended on enjoying the little time he had to get pampered.

She lifted his head, and judging by how adeptly he held it and rubbed his nape, he concluded that she didn’t need him to help her. As she scrubbed her fingers in tandem over his crown, his nose caught another scent in the air, much sweeter than the shampoo. He focused on it, intrigued. Vanilla, perhaps? Only it had some kick to it, a spiciness he could only ever recall smelling in a coffee shop. It was warm, invoked thoughts of being wrapped in a cozy blanket by a log fire. How very fitting, for a woman as kindly as she seemed.

"Le shampoing clarifiant a vraiment fait effet…" Damian heard the barberette mutter, almost to herself, and couldn’t be bothered to translate what that meant.

Colombe rinsed his hair, hands cupping the water away from his hairline, protecting him from whatever splashes of water might want to land on his face. After that, she followed up with another wash, fingers still just as firm as they scrubbed his hair.

Through the sounds of the shampoo, Damian could hear chatter from the people passing by outside the shop. The open door let the hum of the crowd enter the shop, as well as allow the warm, floral wind stir the air inside the shop. The man didn’t know why, but it made him feel at ease. Despite him being far from his country, in a place he might never see again, this felt like home almost. It was like he was back in his apartment with the screen door open on his balcony, with his cat sitting in his lap as he watched TV.

His musings ebbed away into the back of his mind, as Colombe rinsed his hair again. He heard her squeeze something out of a bottle, and then those small hands were back on his head, spreading whatever sweet concoction she deemed necessary for his hair.

"Aimez-vous les massages?" she asked suddenly, her voice as gentle as the breeze in the shop.

A massage? That was a word he was familiar with, and all too happy to accept what he supposed was an offer of one. He nodded, a hum leaving his closed lips in acquiescence.

He felt her press her fingers to his scalp, sliding them slowly over his temples all the way to his nape. It wasn’t often that he got someone to rub him, head or otherwise. The only massages he had gotten in the last months were from his own hands, and mostly on his sore, knotted muscles, overtaxed from walking non-stop and carrying his gear. He tried not to think about that for now though. Colombe was doing too fine a job to be ruined by thoughts of exerting his body again.

Through the din of people outside and the constant pressure on his scalp, Damian picked up on Colombe humming a tune to herself. He swallowed. The quiet, musical notes emanating from her closed lips instilled peace upon his mind.

How could someone’s voice be so captivating?

A sigh left his lips, out of pure contentment, when those small fingers pulled on either side of his neck. Embarrassed, he tried to keep another one at bay, but couldn’t focus much, as Colombe was giggling again. She said nothing, but words were not necessary to know what she thought of that meek sound he had produced.

He realized just how sore his neck and shoulders were, and how he wanted to get rid of the pain there. ‘Stop. Just stop. You’re here for a haircut. End of story. The woman is doing her job’ his mind supplied, and it was true. He came for a haircut, and then he would go back to the inn and tend to his ankle.

Eventually, the tan woman rinsed his hair out one last time before she shut the water off for good. A gentle squeeze of his hair, and she help him sit up. His body opposed the action, wanting to lie back down, but now wasn’t the time for that. Colombe took the towel from around his shoulders and dried his hair with it. He still had his eyes closed, but when she took the towel away, he finally decided to open them.

The barberette knelt near his injured foot, and gently, her cool hands lifted the ice away and wordlessly prompted him to remove his foot, after which she took away the cushion and stepping stool.

Damian stood, slid his foot back into his sandal, and await instructions from the woman who had left to put the things back behind the beaded curtain. Brown eyes roved the shop, and decided that he would make his way towards the barber chair while he waited for Colombe to return. Limping along, he made the few steps towards the seat, and found himself admiring the quality of the chair.

His earlier suspicions about the chair being washed often were confirmed when, upon getting close to it, he picked up on a clean, slightly strong odour emanating from it. Not too overpowering, but enough for him to notice. He draped a hand over the back, bracing himself as he tried turning it towards him. It wouldn’t budge.

"La chaise est barrée" Colombe spoke from behind him. He turned, noting that she was shaking her head at him. Was he being admonished? But she came up to him, and prodded a lever at the base of the chair with her foot. A sound followed the action. "Vous n’aurez pas été capable de la tourner sans la débarrer."

She turned the chair to him. Damian tried to laugh his confusion away. ‘I really should have learned more French before starting this trip…’ he lamented to himself, aware of how inept he was at this language. He hadn’t understood her, yet again.

Now Colombe gazed at him, her pale blue eyes full of mirth at his incompetence. She gestured to the chair. "Asseyez-vous."

Damian faltered. He knew she wanted him to sit, but before, at the washing basin, her demand for him to sit, hadn’t it been longer? Perhaps she meant something else now?

She shook her head at him again, and uttered a simple word he did understand. "Sit."

He felt his neck warming again. "Ah, right, sorry…"

He sat, carefully balancing his weight on his right foot while lowering himself into the white cushioned seating. He recalled sitting in a chair like this during his childhood, when his dad would take him to his barber. Back then, he had been too small to sit in it properly, and had to be perched atop a bar the barber would attach to the armrests. How odd it felt, to actually sit in a chair similar to that one, without extra support. Salon chairs weren’t exactly big like this one.

While he reminisced, Colombe turned the chair to face the mirror. The brown haired man let his eyes rove over the pictures stuck to the glass, of different cuts, both old and new. He focused on a picture in the top right hand corner of the mirror, one of a smiling Colombe with an older gentleman.

Using his limited knowledge of French, he pointed to the picture, "C’est vous?"

Colombe turned her sky blue irises to the mentioned photograph. Without looking at him she nodded, saying, "Moi et Pierre, mon Papa."

The man in the picture looked pretty much spot on to what Damian had thought Pierre might look like, a part from his actual lack of hair. It looked like a recent picture.

"Bon, bon, bon…" Colombe intoned to his left. Damian followed her movements, saw her fiddling through a drawer for a moment before her hand emerged, holding both a white cape and a strip of paper, which, if Damian recalled correctly from his trips as a child, was meant to go around his neck.

The woman rounded the chair, placed the cape over her shoulder a moment and held out the strip in front of him. He lifted his head, not waiting for her to prompt him to do so. Her hands wound the strip snuggly around him.

"Pas trop serré?" she questioned, and with a furrowed brow, as though reminding herself that her patron had no clue what she was saying, tapped her hand against her neck.

For a moment, he just stared at her, but then his eyes cleared. "Ah, no, it’s perfectly fine."

Nodding, Colombe took the cape from her shoulder, shook it out a bit, and placed it over Damian’s body, securing the clasps at his neck. She absentmindedly smoothed the fabric out, lips tilted in a gentle smile.

She directed her smile to him in the mirror, and Damian tried to make the stubborn lump in his throat go down. "Alors, qu’aimeriez-vous avoir?"

XXXXX

Thoughts? Next part coming soon.




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