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Lost in (Your Voice) Translation-Part 2 by Fantasy Weaver
1:Some foul language ahead.
Lost in (Your Voice) Translation
Damian snuck a glance at Colombe in the picture-littered mirror before him. Her question hung in the air as he tried, in vain, to translate her words. Considering she had fastened the cape around him, and had her eyes fixed on him in the glass, the chocolate haired man assumed she was inquiring about his hair, but being inept in this language, he found himself hesitant to answer.
What if she was asking about the weather? Wouldn’t it be rude to just point at his head and start explaining what he wanted?
"Damien?" Baby blue eyes found his in the mirror, wide and inquiring.
He brought a hand out from beneath the cape and rubbed sheepishly at the back of his head, mussing up his damp waves. He tried to find the words to explain that he wanted her to rephrase, or ask her question in English; but that would just result in the same problem for her. Neither had enough knowledge of the other’s language to convey anything properly. Trying to hide his uncertainty, he chuckled, averting his eyes from the barberette’s.
‘Wow. Inept, AND a coward’ his inner dialogue taunted him, making him scowl. He had to think. What other words could he use to tell Colombe how much to cut?
"Um," he started, wholly unused to this feeling of utter helplessness this situation had brought forth. He brought his eyes back to the woman’s, his attempt at a smile from before dissipating from his lips. "Anglais, s’il vous plaît?"
He sensed her own lack of confidence almost as soon as the words were out. She brought a hand to her lips then, thinking as she made a sound of frustration. Had he irked her? But then, she snapped her fingers together, a smile forming on her face. If her look conveyed one thing clearly, it was that a light bulb had flickered on in her head.
Quickly, she came to the barbering station and opened another drawer. She dug around in this one just as hastily as she had opened it, muttering to herself, "Si on ne peut pas se comprendre avec nos mots…" Damian leaned forward slightly, his hand coming to rest back on the armrest. Her eyes shot open. "Ah!" She got back up, holding in her hands a pile of pictures. "On va se comprendre avec des images!"
Damian hadn’t the slightest idea what she was on about, and was meaning to ask her, but before he could she shoved the pictures to him.
Looking between her and the prints, the man raised a brow. In response, she gestured to them further, and waited patiently while he took them in his hands. Momentarily, their fingers brushed together, but he tried ignoring the tingling sensation her touch left on his digits, focusing instead on the images held between them.
So Colombe had asked about what he wanted, because the pictures were of hairstyles, with differing looks and length. He sighed, sending a thankful smile to the barberette as she leaned over the chair to see his choice of style. A simple simper graced her features.
Hands flicked through the photos. He inspected each one that caught his interest. He definitely wanted to get rid of a lot of the bulk and length, since he absolutely did not want to suffer from heat stroke because of it. That would be a terrible way to even die out on the trail. So he took his time, put pictures to the side that were not to his liking, or were too long.
He ended up with two pictures, both of which were similar, except in the length of each cut. Damian looked more carefully to the one in his right hand, and out of a deep memory of his childhood, he recalled the name of the cut: ivy. In fact, both photographs were of an ivy.
Shrugging, he handed the shorter on to Colombe. "This, please."
The woman’s gaze darted between him and the image for moment. She set the picture aside as she moved over to the counter, and proceeded to grab a black comb.
Her fingers on his jaw came as a surprise, and when she made his head turn to regard her, he set his lips in a firm, unyielding line. Of course, she was only examining him, that much was apparent, what with her combing out his waves and measuring them with her fingers.
She tossed her caramel locks aside, and continued eyeing his hair for a minute more. Then, she withdrew her hands. "Vous êtes certains? Vous avez de beaux cheveux…" Here, she seemed to muse to herself, one hand on her hip, "Encore là, le mec fait de la randonnée, et il va faire chaud dans les prochain jours. C’est un malheur pour ces cheveux, mais…"
Damian stared at her. So enraptured was he by how sweet her voice was, that he couldn’t be bothered to try understanding her. He just wanted Colombe to keep talking, non-stop, until they were done with the haircut.
Finally, she nodded and tilted her lips. "Okay!"
He smirked lightly at her enthusiasm. Before he knew it, the barberette had taken a pair of scissors from her tools and stood behind the chair at the ready to start the cut. Damian watched her reflection closely, relaxed as she combed out his hair. She slid her comb around the circumference of his skull, sectioning out the hair on top of his head. From her belt -one the man had just noticed- Colombe produced a black hairclip, and after twisting the six-inch strands on top of his head, pinned them into place, allowing her better access to his back and sides.
He felt her combing out a section of his hair at the back of his head. "You, euh…are going where?" Colombe asked him, closing the shears down on his hair. His brown eyes watched the strands fall to the cape.
Finding her face in the mirror, the man responded as concisely as possible. "Portugal to Italy."
She lifted another section, and snipped this one just as effortlessly. "Ah, l’Italie c’est vraiment beau ce temps-ci de l’année." Here, she sighed in what he supposed was a dreamy manner, "Je crois que je suis jalouse!"
He watched her, felt her comb a strand and cut it off. Pursing his lips, he rued not having more experience in French. How he craved to converse with her. Surely the woman must have so many interesting things to say, yet the language barrier between them blocked him from engaging in even SIMPLE conversation. She, at least, had less trouble with English than he did with French.
Perhaps he could ask her about that, though he had not the words in her tongue. He exhaled, deciding to say what he thought anyway, as she had proven capable of comprehending him so far. "You’re better at English than I am in French."
She looked up from her work at that. In the reflection, he could see her starting to get rid of the length around his ear. Exhaling a breathy laugh, Colombe returned to her task. "English is…easier, than French."
That, he may have been biased to agree with, but having tried to learn the language in school, he recalled just how terrible their verb tenses were. That, and the thing he never did understand: masculine and feminine pronouns for everything. How did they memorize that? Teachers had always told him that the wrong pronoun just didn’t SOUND right, when he couldn’t tell the bloody difference!
He closed his eyes a moment, shaking away the faint memory. Colombe was finishing up on his right side, he noted. The messy waves he had sported before now lay in piles on the floor and in his lap, with some strands still hanging around his shoulders. Already, he looked tidier than he had been, and Colombe hadn’t even started the actual outlines for his cut.
The barberette dusted some of the strands near his neck, allowing them to fall noiselessly to the cape. Then, she placed her shears back on the station, and, moving in front of the chair, she pulled out the drawer which Damian had spotted the wires hanging from.
Inside, all manner of clippers were neatly organized, lined up in order of size, and in plastic compartments he spotted an assortment of guards. A quick glance showed the compartments to be labeled with the clipper model, supposedly to avoid any mix-ups between guards. The tool themselves were impeccably kept, as was the soft lining inside the drawer.
The woman picked up one of the medium sized clippers, and from the shelves of the barbering station, produced a can which she shook vigorously before spraying its contents on the blades. Damian sniffed the air; it smelled strongly of disinfectant.
Colombe took a moment to rummage through the guards, and after she found the one she needed, placed it on the clipper blades. She gave Damian a small smile as she passed him, and placed herself behind the chair again. "Baissez la tête, s’il vous plaît" she intoned, but after the man only stared at her, she pushed his head forward with a light touch of her hand.
The feel of the clippers at his nape instantly calmed Damian’s troubled mind. What could he say; he had always enjoyed getting his haircut. The experience had a bit of a soothing effect on him, for reasons he did not understand. It just felt nice, he supposed. There was a certain lulling quality to the clippers vibrating against his skin, and feeling his head become lighter and lighter the more his hair was cut and clipped made his eyes droop despite his best efforts to stay awake.
Colombe removed the clipper, her first pass leaving behind velvety softness. Whatever length she had taken off landed in his lap, like the rest of his former mane. His hooded eyes stared at the pile. It would be good to feel the wind against his head, he thought.
Tinkling laughter filled his ears, and he was powerless to stop himself from lifting his gaze to the only logical source of the sound, to find Colombe, once more, laughing at him. "Ne vous endormez pas" she stated, her voice all but sweet in its tone.
"Hm" was all he answered, eyes going back to his lap as he felt the barberette guiding the clipper up his neck again. His response only prompted her to giggle more, and dimly, somewhere in the back of his mind, he told himself that maybe if he kept being his incompetent self, he could continue hearing that charming voice.
Even as he thought that, he felt himself relaxing more. Hair fell to his shoulders, and the woman made another pass, to the right of the other two, he dimly registered. She moved, closer to his right ear, and sheared away the hair there too. Damian’s hand came out from beneath the cape, up to his mouth. He stifled a yawn. What time was it? He knew that usually, when stopping in these little villages for rest, he went to sleep quite early; the result of walking non-stop and sleeping on the hard ground.
This detour to the barbershop had not been planned, but he welcomed it for two reasons: as mentioned, he had been in need of a haircut, and second, his sprained ankle could get a break before he walked back to the inn. But now, as he sat her getting his haircut by Colombe, he could feel how tired and spent he actually was. He was practically falling asleep, and while getting a trim relaxed him, it didn’t ordinarily end up with him succumbing to sleep in the chair.
He put his hand back under the cape, absentmindedly flicked it to make the growing pile of chocolate locks fall to the wood flooring. Colombe tilted his head, straightening it before making it lean towards the left, giving her full view of his right side. She expertly ran the purring tool into his sideburn, and, after folding his ear, around his ear as well. The woman made sure to pass a few times, snagging any stray hairs in the clippers path, before moving on to clean up his left side.
Damian mentally slapped himself. Now was no time to be taking a nap. Colombe already seemed to find him amusing; what sort of fool would she think he was if he suddenly succumbed to slumber right there in her chair?
His ears picked up, through the sound of the clipper near his ear, the distinct sound of the barberette humming a tune to herself again. Once more, he was taken aback by the sheer light and airy quality to the sound. Already hypnotized by getting his hair cut, Damian found it exponentially harder to stay conscious with that music making its way into his mind.
He doubled his efforts on staying awake, and thanked the heavens when Colombe spoke. "Saviez-vous que vous avez une petite tache de naissance derrière votre oreille?"
His brow furrowed. One of the woman’s perfectly manicured fingers poked behind his ears, and recollection came to him. He reached up with his left hand, finding the small, barely-there bump behind his ear, where the barberette was pointing her finger at, and asked, "Are you talking about this?" She nodded. "It’s a birthmark."
She looked exasperated for a moment. "Je sais; c’est ce que je viens de-" her sentence faltered. Her pale blue eyes stared into his, before she shook her head, a knowing smile on her face. "Oh, laissez-faire. Quand vous me regardez comme ça je ne peux pas être fâché contre vous, surtout puisque vous ne comprenez probablement pas ce que je suis en train de dire en ce moment."
Damian was sure that anyone in his situation would have regarded the barberette as though she had grown a second head, but he couldn’t help but find himself captivated by how easily and fluently she spoke. He just hoped his wonder didn’t show on his face.
Colombe took her time to finish up around his ear and went back to the clipper drawer, removing the current guard for another -shorter- one. She came back around the chair, and Damian bared his neck for her again. The ivy he had shown her from the photograph had a medium fade, showing that it was a more modern take on an ivy. Honestly, he couldn’t really be picky. After all, he had nobody to impress while out on the trail. The choice of cut had been purely for practical reasons.
As Colombe began the more tedious task of fading, Damian began to feel himself slouch in the chair again, and when the woman stepped back to examine her progress, he allowed himself to readjust his position. ‘Get a grip’ he chided himself.
She continued, her left hand busy holding his head still as her right hand worked the clipper in up and down motions, inadvertently giving a sort of massage as she sheared. The man busied himself with his reflection in the mirror. He gave his beard a once over. He had thought about getting it shaved before, and the prospect tempted him again, especially with Colombe in the mix.
‘Ah, no’ his inner dialogue persisted, ‘Stop thinking like that. Okay, yes, she is a pretty woman, and has the voice of an angel, but still! When, exactly, are you going to be seeing this woman again? That’s right -never.’ But, then again, wasn’t that exactly the problem? If he would never see her again after this chance encounter, wouldn’t it be alright to enjoy it as much as possible?
The clipper came and sheared paths around each of his ears, and the beginnings of the fade could clearly be seen. Colombe kept humming to herself as she changed the guard for a shorter one still, and blended the outer edges of his hairline away. He noticed while she did this, and before with the other guards as well, her thumb would flick a tiny lever on the side of the humming machine. He dimly wondered what the use of it was, but discarded the thought.
The brown hair on top of his head occasionally still dripped a drop of water or two, and kept his skin cool with every breeze from outside. He should enjoy it, already did, and would continue until he left for the motel.
Colombe paused in her humming, eyes finding his dropping brown ones. "Is this okay?" she asked him, fingers caressing a path along his hairline, and, without her conscious knowledge, leaving a tingling path wherever her fingertips happened to brush.
Damian suppressed a shudder, clearing his throat in hopes that his voice would not sound strained. "Hm? Yes, it’s fine." He didn’t even look at her work, too busy staring into those endlessly blue depths.
"Good. Parfait…" she mumbled, placing the user clipper beside the guards along the counter. Her hand reached for a foil shaver in the drawer, and proceeded to turn it on. The high-pitched buzzing filled the shop as she passed the detailing tool along his neck and sides, giving the edges of the cut a smoother finish.
It wasn’t often that a foil was used on him, as Damian usually had his hair trimmed so that it hung just below his hairline, effectively eliminating the need for crisp edges. He savored the feeling, allowing himself to close his eyes while the barberette gently worked the foil aver her work. Her hand lingered at his neck, pulled the cape and strip down to expose his skin, careful not to be too harsh with her tugging. She wasn’t. She was nothing but tender.
He jerked slightly, becoming aware of how close he had been to falling asleep, but a tilt of Colombe’s lips informed him she had noticed. Amused, she opened her mouth to speak, "Vous pouvez fermer vos yeux, ça ne me derange pas."
"Yeux" meant "Eyes" did it not? He felt heat creeping back into his neck, felt it redden further at the knowledge that she could probably SEE his embarrassment at that moment, plainly visible as her fingers held the neck strip away from it.
But her fingers left him, and the foil stopped whirring as she closed it. Approaching the counter, she laid her right hand on his left shoulder lightly, surprising him. "It’s okay," she reassured him, about his slip in wakefulness, or his shock at her touch, he didn’t know, but he nodded his assent anyway.
Colombe placed the foil on the counter and, after retrieving her hand from him, picked up her scissors to begin taming the leftover mop on top of his head. She placed herself behind the chair, and at the feel of her fingertips placing themselves at his jaw, Damian straightened his head, eyes looking anywhere but at her.
The clip was pried from his hair. As the chocolate locks came undone, a few water droplets rained down onto the cape, but the barberette dampened his hair further by spraying to strands with water from a spray bottle. He closed his eyes, avoiding the mist as it came near his face, and was about to open them back up, but felt he couldn’t, not when Colombe combed his hair in such a soothing way.
He felt her take a section, and soon, the silence that had fallen between was punctured by the snipping of the scissors. Went strands fell to the cape with a dull sound, soaking the fabric slightly as they did. What had the woman said about his eyes? Did it matter? She didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that they were closed now.
The comb dragged another section of hair into Colombe’s waiting fingers, the tension created by holding the locks straight not unwelcomed. The pressure smoothed out the stress in his temples.
The shop became too quiet for his liking though, even with the rhythmic cutting of his hair. Damian opened his eyes, finding Colombe focusing intently on his haircut. She combed out a new section, held it firmly between her finger, and with two slicing motions from the shears, severed the strands. It would be quite short, or at least, shorter than he had it done back home, but she was referencing directly from the picture he had given her. He didn’t give it more than two inches at its longest.
His prolonged staring finally made the woman tilt her caramel-colored head his way. Raising a brow askance, she asked, simply, "What?"
Had anyone uttered that one-word question back home, Damian thought they might be labeled rude. Here though, Colombe was just using her limited knowledge. She wasn’t being rude, at all, in fact she seemed eager to know what was on his mind. Averting his gaze, he lightly shook his head. "Nothing," he supplied, absolutely refusing to acknowledge his need for her to speak.
"…D’accord…" she whispered, and continued with the cut.
Great. He had probably succeeded in making her uncomfortable.
But his disappointment all but disappeared when she snickered, "Habituellement je parle tout le temps avec mes clients. C’est un peu difficile avec vous par contre." She snipped another lock of hair, before continuing tentatively, "I am sorry…I don’t talk."
His eyes widened.
It must be a fluke, nothing more, that she had voiced his exact thoughts.
She came near the front of the chair, tilted his face towards her to better cut his fringe. He closed his eyes, waited until the hair ceased to rain down on him, for Colombe to have finished inspecting his hair, before his brown irises found hers.
He stared into baby blue depths, all at once no longer in control of his actions.
"Please talk, even if I don’t understand."
A second passed. Two. And Colombe’s eyes blinked. "You want," she paused "want me to talk?"
The demand seemed stupid then.
He averted his gaze quickly, clearing his throat. "No. I mean-" he searched for his words, frantic, "If- if you want to, that is."
‘Oh, perfect,’ he thought miserably, ‘now you look desperate.’
Colombe’s laugh caught him off guard. Of all the things she could laugh off, she chose this? He stared at her imploringly, his mind trying desperately to comprehend the workings of the woman’s mind. She rounded the chair, combing out his hair to inspect for any mistakes, and proclaimed, "Damien, c’est la première fois qu’un homme me dit de continuer de jaser. Qu’ai-je fait pour que vous me disiez ça, hm?"
Question marks could very well be in place of his eyes as he gaped at her. What was she saying? Was she mad? She didn’t sound mad.
Her fingers caressing his hair calmed him. "Relaxez. Je vais parler pour vous, puisque vous êtes si gentil." Here, she winked, and Damian didn’t want to know what she had uttered then, because her voice had become too soft for him to think properly.
Her fingers continued caressing his shorter hair, and he became aware that the cut had been completed. But he barely registered this, as Colombe had started running her fingers along his scalp, her longish nails scraping a tantalizing path on his head. Whether or not she was aware of this, he didn’t know.
"Shorter," he breathed suddenly, without his conscious consent.
Pale blue stared at him askance. "Vous voulez aller plus court?" Her fingers stopped midway up his crown.
What was he doing? His hair was fine as it was now. He didn’t mind going shorter, no, it was the fact that he had asked for it all.
He knew what it was. The promise of hearing her speak again was to blame for his lack of self-control. He spied the length on top. He could go for another inch off of them, and it would be fine.
He nodded, only half aware of his decision. "Plus court," he supplied, having understood what the two words meant.
Colombe brushed back a strand of caramel coloured hair, inspecting the hair between her fingers pensively. She shrugged. "Plus court alors" she stated, lips tugging back into a smile.
The man watched as the barberette sprayed his hair again -less this time- and held a lock between her index and major. With her right hand, still busy holding the comb and shears, she indicated the length to cut. That looked about right. He nodded.
And off to work she went again, sectioning out his hair and cutting them with her gleaming scissors. Her fingers were brushing his scalp every time she held up a section. Added to that, Colombe had taken to talking non-stop, as he had asked of her. Her voice and the sounds of shears slicing through his hair were all that made their way into his ears, and what were currently lulling him to sleep once more.
She spoke of everything and nothing, he supposed. She could have spouting nonsense; Hell, she could be outright insulting him and he wouldn’t even know the difference. He doubted she was, if her sweet tone could confirm anything.
He closed his eyes, lightheaded, giddy, though he didn’t show it on his face. His hair was lifted, cut, combed, lifted, cut, combed, over and over, from his crown to his fringe, where, just like before, Colombe had him lift his face to hers to work on. He wouldn’t be left with a lot of hair, compared to the messy waves he had come in with, but whatever time he had with the barberette granted by the extension of the cut was worthwhile in his mind.
"-et je ne comprends pas pourquoi, exactement, vous avez choisi de venir dans le salon de mon papa, mais peu importe la raison, je crois que vous êtes la chose la plus intéressante qui m’est arrivé aujourd’hui-"
On and on she went, stopping only for a few moments before continuing on another incomprehensible tangent. What could he say? The way she spoke made Damian feel like he was listening to the softest notes of a piano, to the springtime song of the birds back home.
She stopped then, making him open his eyes to his reflection in the mirror. His ivy was significantly shorter.
"Alors? Pas si pire?" Colombe was saying while her hands placed the short strands to the side, allowing him a view of what it would look like if he placed them.
He bit his lip.
‘What are you doing?’ his inner voice, coming back out from its silence, demanded him. ‘This is short enough. Any more and-’
"Plus court" he stated firmly, giving the barberette an encouraging smile, and completely ignoring his voice of reason.
She chuckled, setting her shears aside. "Toujours pas assez court? Je peux remédier à ça, mais quelques ajustements seront à faire dans la coupe initiale."
Damian watched, hypnotized, as the woman picked up her clippers from where she had left them on the counter. She fumbled in the drawer again, retrieving a new guard. So what if his hair came out shorter than expected? Hadn’t he wanted to add something to his journal about this? About experiencing something to reminisce about later? This definitely would haunt his being for the rest of his trip, so why not make the best of it?
The snap of the clippers brought him back to attention, and he watched, mesmerized, as Colombe took him down further, leaving him with half an inch down that first swipe from his forehead to his crown. He could make out his scalp under the remaining hair, and made a mental note to wear his hat more often after this.
Colombe spoke even as the clipper filled the small room with its humming noise. Clumps of chocolate brown hair fell to the cape, and Damian became aware of just how much there was. He smirked. How weak was he?
Pass after pass reduced the ivy to what Damian could confidently call a crewcut. He watched as the last few passes were made, before the barberette changed her guards and blended the cut further, adjusting the fade as necessary to fit the new style. She ran the clippers back and forth with perfect ease, not leaving a single hair untouched, unattended to. Colombe certainly seemed like a proficient barberette, if her confidence in the art said anything.
Eventually, the clippers fell silent. Before he could say anything, Colombe asked, amused, "Plus court?"
The man felt his neck redden at the inquiry. Now wasn’t the time to get carried away. He had been shorn enough, and despite his want to have the woman’s attention on him more, he decided it would be best to stop where they were. "It’s good like this." A pause. "Merci" he added as an afterthought.
The woman nodded, pleased. "C’est un plaisir."
Before he could say anything else, Colombe removed the neck strip and cape in one fluid motion, sending the ruins of Damian’s waves to the floor with the rest of the strands. His brown eyes lingered on his new cut in the mirror. His right hand passed over the soft hair, lingered on the exposed skin afforded by the fade. Sunscreen would be important while it grew out.
His fingers traveled to his beard thoughtfully. Perhaps he could have asked the barberette to clean him up before she had taken the cape away.
"Aimez-vous votre coupe, Damien?" Colombe asked him then, in her quiet voice.
He spotted her blue eyes, narrowed approvingly, filled with mirth and joy. Something squeezed in his chest at the sight. The need to stay near her, to hear her speak his name again gripped at the rapidly fraying strands of his sanity.
He spoke words then, in her mother language, out of pure instinct.
"J’aime votre voix."
The blue eyes widened in the mirror.
The hum of people outside was the only sound to break the tense silence that followed his statement.
It suddenly hit him what he had just uttered out loud.
"Damien, je…" Colombe was saying, before she shook her head, eyes narrowing in confusion. "Quoi?"
‘This is the moment you get up and leave’ his inner monologue informed him, and he could do nothing but follow his own advice for once.
"F***" he muttered to himself, and rose from the chair, clumsily, as Colombe hadn’t unlocked it from its position, and because his sprained ankle sent a jolt of pain through his entire body as he clambered out of the white seat.
The woman moved out of his way hastily, her mouth agape at him, her eyes relaying her uncertainty as she tried desperately to form words, in any language, to get through to him.
No. He couldn’t even look her in the eyes after what he had just allowed his mouth, his treacherous tongue, to utter. He had to leave. "I’m so, so sorry, I’m…" he didn’t finish, and bolted out of the open door into the cobblestone streets beyond.
Colombe stood in her shop, one hand lifting to her mouth, as silent as she had ever been.
Author's note: Please keep the comment section reserved for constructive criticism please. Thank you for reading! Next part will be out soon.