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Years and Shears Later (Part 3) by Armando94


2013

Flash forward to that spring: June, with prom, graduation and all of senior week upon them. Ryan and his buddies were not in relationships, even though the rest of senior year they’d started to go out to parties. However, they all managed to find dates for prom, and like the rest of the senior class, were going to be heading to the beaches for a weekend to never forget. As prom got closer and closer, details becoming more and more finalized, there was one thing on Ryan’s mind. Something he wanted to pick his friends’ brains about, or really, their heads.

"Hey, guys," Ryan asked, a week before prom. "There’s something I wanted to tell, well, ask you guys."

"You’re not backing out of prom, are you?" Arun asked.

"No, no," Ryan shook his head, as they all sat around at the diner, waiting for their check to come, so they could head out to yet another party.

"Your date is backing out on you?" Diego followed up.

"No, not that either."

"Then what, dude?" Theo cut in, getting to the point.

Ryan sighed and shrugged. "You guys know how I’ve been working at Al’s shop for over a year and a half now, right? And how I’ve been learning how to cut hair before I actually go to school for it this fall. Well…I was wondering, and it hasn’t come up before, but I’ve been thinking about it for a little while…uh…" Ryan paused one more time, sucking in some air. "How would you guys feel if I cut your hair, before prom? Only if you guys are okay with it. No pressure, I won’t feel bad if you don’t want me to cut your hair."

The three others looked at each other, in silence, not one budging for words or reply. Maybe Ryan had overstepped, underestimated how his friends would feel. Now as the three of them sat there, without a response, Ryan began eyeing up all their heads. They all really could use a haircut, if Ryan was being honest. Why had he never thought of it before? Come to think of it, they needed haircuts, not just use ones. Better question was did they want haircuts?

Diego was first to speak, "Alright, I… I trust you man. And," he felt for the back of his head, where his hair touched down to his collar. "I probably could use more than a trim from one of those clip joints I usually pay to do a hack job."

"I wouldn’t charge you guys, first time on me, okay?"

"Well in that case," Theo said, teasingly. "I’m kidding, I’d let you cut my hair even if you were charging, which I guess some day you will have to. Never thought about having you cut my hair, all this time. My parents will actually be thrilled, I’m sure, someone taking charge of this curly brown mop of mine."

They all laughed, and Arun consented too, "Yeah, I’m in… even if I am a bit scared. No offense man, its nothing to do with you."

"You guys don’t have to worry, just trust in me, okay?" Ryan said.

And then the big day had come, in more ways than one. Ryan made sure to let Al clean him before leaving Thursday night, perhaps the harshest bald fade Ryan had ever received from Al before. Ryan had mentioned earlier that week the little test run he was doing on his friends. Al joked that not only did he want to see pictures of Ryan and his prom date, but how each of his buddies came out post-haircut. So, when all the seniors were allowed out of school at noon on Friday, Ryan was one of the first students to zip out of the parking lot. Before he would cut his friends’ hairs, he needed to get everything set up. Leaving Arun, Diego, and Theo enough time to go home, grab their tuxes, and then come by Ryan’s.

Diego was the first to arrive, as Ryan caught it from upstairs through a window. He rushed down the stairs and opened the door for his friend, saying, "You’re my first customer of the day, sir. Come on in," as he guided a blushing Diego into the foyer.

"Thanks, and thanks again for this," Diego said as they headed upstairs to the makeshift barber shop. "My parents were shocked, but also happy. One of my cousins this weekend did threaten to shave me bald," Diego said, as Ryan eyed up his dark, thick thatch of hair that hung low to the collar and just barely touched his eyes. Well, not for much longer, Ryan gleefully thought to himself.

"Don’t worry, I will have you looking better than when you first came in here."

"Thanks, Ryan, I appreciate it," Diego said, as Ryan caped him up.

"So… was there anything you did have in mind? No pressure," Ryan tried to lead him on, seeing what he could coax out of his friend, without being harsh.

"I don’t know, well, I do know, I don’t want it so long anymore," Diego stated. "But like, not SHORT short like yours either, no offense man. That might be too much all at once."

"I get it, man," Ryan said, as he sifted his hands through Diego’s scalp. "I can keep it longish, but styled and obvious that you’ve had a haircut. I won’t take your sides and back down short like mine, maybe a little longer as like how I used to have it when I first cut mine short. Then just taper your neckline for a clean look," Ryan talked his client through it all, then motioning his hands up to the top and front. "You also have a lot of hair up here to work with too, man, but I won’t want to take it all off. We’ll keep it fairly long but not too long, just enough that it can be styled nice and straight back, but not a comb over. Does this sound good to you?"

"My question to you is, how are you not already a barber, bro?" and then they both laughed out loud. "Ryan! Dude, I’ve never had a consultation, like, ever! That was awesome. You’ve clearly learned a lot from your barber."

Ryan tried to hide his grin, but he couldn’t. "Well, thanks dude, I’ll make sure to let Al know you said that." And then, Ryan got going without a moment’s hesitation. He began to saturate Diego’s head with a spray bottle, and then with scissors and comb, began to hack off the back and sides. As thick, wet locks slapped themselves onto the cape and Diego stared back through the mirror, wondering what he might have gotten himself into. But this was just the beginning, Ryan was merely removing any of the bulk that would get in his way. After this had been completed, he wet down the top some more, and then started to section off the hair, that way it didn’t get mixed in with the sides and back.

Once that was complete, Ryan put down his tools and picked up a set of clippers, attaching the number three guard, and fired them up, without asking Diego if he was sure about this. He went immediately for his friend’s right side, and began to peel away with the clippers, as more hair now fell to the ground as if it were a dark running waterfall. Clearing the path so that you could see Diego’s ears once again, as he repeated the same on the left, then clearing the back. There was still so much hair to cut off, even after Ryan had initially taken some back with the scissors! Ryan was curious when his friend last had a haircut, but maybe that was a rude thing to ask, even to a friend.

Once the main clipper work was done, Ryan lightly tapered the neckline ever so slightly, but tonight and this whole weekend it would be noticeable for anyone that saw Diego from behind. Then, it was on to the top. Ryan had started to get better and a lot more confident and comfortable cutting a man’s hair from the top, as his father had let him practice a bit here and there on his business cut. But for Diego, Ryan was keeping it more like a disconnected undercut. So, he swept it all back, still slightly saturated, and then began to trim the ends, as well as enough of a blend from the top to the bottom without connecting them, so that the swoop on top was styled as such.

As Ryan was about to add some product to Diego’s hair, Arun showed up, "Looks like the party has already started."

"You’re next, man," Diego told him.

"And, the barber? He any good?" Arun teased.

"No lie, he actually is," Diego smiled, just as Ryan released his friend from the cape and chair, and Diego bounced off to go get changed into his prom tux.

"Next," Ryan slapped the chair down with the cape, and Arun hopped to it. As he began to cape up his next client of the day, Ryan said, "What’s it gonna be, sir?"

"Just a little off the sides and back, and some off the top, please," Arun responded, like this was something Ryan usually did for him. Not too hard of a challenge, but Ryan was happy to do whatever his friends wanted. As he was cutting this next friend, the third and final one arrived, and was inspecting the current client in the chair as well as the one that had gone before.

"You weren’t kidding, man," Theo said, eyeing up Diego’s fresh cut. "You’ve really been learning a lot the past year or so."

"Thanks," Ryan laughed. "I would like to think so too, just, haven’t had too many heads to work off of yet. So I’m glad you guys were willing, means a lot."

After Arun’s cut was complete, it was Theo’s turn. This was going to be a bit more of a challenge, as he also had thick hair, but curly as well. "My parents are expecting me to look totally different…but, I don’t want be bald or something. So, like, maybe you take the back and sides down, and leave the top?"

"If I leave the top it’ll still be big and floppy, and awkward," Ryan commented. "I’ll need to take some length off of there, but still leave you with your curls, and nicely blended into the shorter sides and back."

"Uh, okay, just, not too short, remember."

"Don’t sweat it, man," Ryan said, as he began to clean off the clippers, and took them to the back of Theo’s head, little longer than Diego, giving him a number four on the back and sides. Still fairly long if you asked Ryan, but then again, he basically had white walls. Heck, he’d be getting another haircut from Al next week for sure before the graduation ceremony!

After the backs and sides were cleared, with the loose waves and curls laying limp on the cape and floor, some so long they looked like they could strangle you, Ryan soaked the mop on top. It was tricky working with curls, and he hadn’t had that much experience with them so far, or really at all. So, he took the top down by half an inch, and then another half, and then he realized, the hair was still too long. When it would dry up, it would still stand up awkward and poofy. Ryan pivoted and began to blend the sides and back up to the top, which gave him a better idea of what he could do with the rest. He should have done this first, but there was so much on the top to work with. Theo was half paying attention, talking to the other two as they got changed, so, before he could lose focus, Ryan went for it, and took off another whole inch… wondering if maybe now it would be too noticeable. Another half, that might have been fine, but this was double what he’d already done. Then again, Theo had hair like a birds nest. There was so much to go around, did it matter?

Ryan then began to blow dry his friend’s head and began to inspect everything again, going over every bit with the scissors. Cleaning it all up, making sure nothing stood out that was too outlying. And, even if it was shorter than what Theo might have imagined, it looked really well on him. A lot cleaner cut and mature, but still enough of his waves and curls. "Alright, that’s it, last client of the day," Ryan said as he cleaned up Theo’s neckline and around his ears.

"Wow, who would have thought, Ryan as a barber," Theo said as he stood up from the chair. "Never would I have imagined that in freshman year, what about you guys?" The others agreed.

Ryan beamed and said, "I don’t know if freshman year Ryan really thought much of anything, if I’m being honest guys."

"But you found your calling, man," Diego added. "You’ve proven you’ve got what it takes. We’re proud of you."

"Thanks guys," Ryan patted each of them on the back. "Now my turn to get ready," as he whipped around and began to quickly clean up all his work. Then he lightly touched up his own coif, before running off to his room and changing into his own tuxedo. Ryan’s parents arrived home sometime after three, as they wanted to be here for later. His brothers were around too, all planning to be here till at least till graduation next weekend for their little brother, and his big prom night.

Ryan and his friends, and each of their dates, all met at this other kid’s before prom party, where all the seniors got on a bus together, and headed to prom, before the real fun of the night and weekend later on. The moment the buses rolled away from the prom venue, which had been fun on its own, everybody whipped out the different containers of alcohol they’d been hiding in bags tucked away on the bus. And there was only more of that for where they were headed, for all the houses and motels kids had rented out down by the beach had already been stocked this past week by seniors. Once off the bus, at the final destination, everybody raced into their rooms, and quickly swapped out of their prom gear, changing into more casual and comfortable attire. Some not to change until Sunday when they got home!

Within the hour of the senior class’ landing, ping pong tables and fold out ones immediately became the stadiums and fields for multiple drinking games and competitions. Kegs were hosting lines like you were trying to get into a nightclub. And some kids had already ended up in the pool, whether on purpose or not. At some point, Ryan had lost sight of his three best friends, and their prom dates long before that, but he would see all seven of them here and there, just as like himself and the rest of the senior class, you started to mingle and morph within random groups of kids you’d known the last four years, and just start hanging or playing games together. Ryan had to admit, his twin brothers had been making him practice his flip-cup every night this past week since they’d been home. And it proved to be worthwhile, as he kept playing that Friday night (or Saturday morning really) again and again until time was truly lost.

"Yo, Ryan!" a kid named Matt from some of his classes shouted at him through the masses of people. "Who knew you got skill, man!"

"Thanks, dude," Ryan blushed, but he wasn’t just blushing out of embarrassment from the comment from a tipsy teenager. Well, because, Matt was really popular and really cool, the whole thing going for him. Ryan would be lying if he didn’t say that, well, maybe there was something more to this blushing; that he was trying hard to suppress it. Matt’s surfer blonde hair, shaggy but chic, as it hung low across his forehead, the natural highlights this boy was gifted with. But Ryan had to stop thinking like that, especially around everyone and when he knew he’d had a fair amount to drink himself, and couldn’t be trusted to any Freudian slips. So when Matt asked him to play a round on his team, Ryan was more than happy to hop in. After a round of this, and winning, a group of teens said they were going to play soccer on the beach.

"Right now?" Ryan was stunned, it was practically pitch black.

"Come on, man," Matt grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved him along to join the rest of the crew. For starters, Ryan was no athlete. This was going to be hilarious, especially against someone like Matt who was a varsity athlete. And so were all the other kids playing, most of them being the soccer players! But Ryan was shoved into the game, mostly by this now seemingly, friendly Matt. And while Ryan wasn’t any good, he still had fun, and at times just stood and watched in amazement as a bunch of these actual soccer players from school pulled tricks on each other.

"Crazy good, aren’t they?" Matt said.

"Insane," Ryan said in awe, the sound of waves crashing in the background. "Congrats on Prom King, by the way, dude."

"Oh, that?" Matt scoffed. "Thanks, I guess. I guess I should have expected it."

"I guess a little awkward that your girlfriend didn’t get voted Queen."

"Oh," Matt said, looking down at the sand, scratching his head, "Yeah…you probably don’t know. We sort of broke up, but we still went to prom together, since it was last minute."

"Oh," Ryan said, not having any dating experience himself. "I’m sorry man."

Matt shrugged and said, "I’m not. It was gonna happen, after graduation at some point. Soon after if I’m being honest. Sucks it happened before though, but it was coming, a long time coming, actually. We both knew it."

"Because of college and all?"

Matt looked like he was about to say something else, but then stopped himself, frozen in place. Clearly shifting gears, "Kinda, you could say…where are you heading next fall, man?"

"Me? Oh, I’m not going to college, technically."

"You enlisting?"

"Nope, actually," Ryan scratched the back of his bare head. "I’ve been sorta in training to be a barber for the past year and a half. And in the fall, I’ll officially be going to barber school for it for the year, and then will come out with my license."

"Dude, that’s sweet," Matt nodded his head, and then checked out the other teen’s head. "I guess I should have guessed, you always have a sharp haircut. Real noticeable."

"Thanks, well, came about in an unfortunate way, but turned out for the best."

"Sure did," Matt nodded and then they both focused back in on the soccer game, which within the next ten minutes dissolved and everyone was heading back to the rest of the party. Ryan and Matt continued to hang out through the rest of the night. The two of them, surrounded by other kids from their grade, from all different cliques and backgrounds. But this was the point of the after-prom weekend, wasn’t it? Everyone coming together whether you loved or hated each other or not, for one last great hurrah?

The party carried on through the remainder of the night, with a whole lot more of alcohol, and a possible dip in the pool, as Ryan woke up after a few hours of trying to doze off by five in the morning. The sun was shining, Ryan was in a room, thankfully his own, with no one else around except for a bare arm across his body from a shirtless frame slumped next to him: Matt.

Ryan freaked out. He was still clothed, but Matt looked like he at least had bottoms on. The polluting smell of chlorine reeking from the t-shirt and short-sleeve button down Ryan had fallen into bed and asleep with. He looked down upon Matt, who remained motionless except for his breathing onto Ryan’s shoulder. He smelled of the same stinking chlorine. Except Ryan then became distracted, looking down at Matt and his blonde locks. They’d dried up but still had a bit of a damp look to them, considering how much hair Matt had. The total shaggy look, and now Ryan was better able to evaluate and look at all of this, unlike in the early hours of today on the beach or by the pool. Every strand he could inspect, the blondes and their many varying degrees of light and darkness. It was a beautiful head of hair, Ryan had to admit it, it was no wonder Matt kept it long.

Ryan slightly stirred in the bed, merely due to admiring these golden locks, which caused Matt to stir and wake up as well. "Morning sleeping beauty," Matt said to him.

"Sorry," Ryan said, jolting up a bit, which got Matt to sit up too, and then they both resetlled themselves and sat there cross-legged under the comforter, backs against the bed frame. Ryan looking up at the ceiling, feeling the splitting hungover headache coming on. Matt just staring back at him, waiting for him to say something else. "I, uh, sorry if in my drunken state I forced you back here."

Matt smiled and laughed, "I don’t know what state you were in, because I don’t remember my state."

"Well, I’m sure you didn’t mean to end up like this," Ryan was flustered.

Matt narrowed his eyes and looked at him, "I’ve woken up passed out drunk to so many of my bros in the past, nothing weird about this. Unless, this is weird for you?"

"No, no, not at all," Ryan quickly flushed. "Just, sorry…I, I don’t know."

Matt shifted himself around on the bed so he was still partially under the comforter but now more of him sticking out, his basketball shorts on display with Calvin Klein underwear peeking out, as he looked back at Ryan, with a simple smile, "Don’t think about it, man."

At that, Ryan didn’t know what he should do. Was there something more to this? Or was he reading into it too much? Was Matt subtly making hints or moves, and was Ryan meant to take the bait? Sure, Ryan had gotten lucky kissing some girls at parties this year, but that was all in fun and game and to try it out. The feeling he was having right now, maybe even had been having all night and early morning hours too, it was something entirely else. Especially as the way Matt was still eyeing Ryan up. He really didn’t know what to make of it, any of it.

Matt reached out a hand and started to rub the left side and then the back of Ryan’s head, a soft grin growing on his lips, and Ryan’s as well. Then Matt broke the silence, "Really fresh cut, man. Although I’m one to talk."

"Thanks," Ryan laughed. "And you’ve got some good hair on your head, don’t act like it isn’t worth something."

"I don’t know what that worth would be," Matt said, then tossing the extended hand through his own tresses, Ryan watching every single move he made. "How come you cut your hair short, by the way? I remember when you did, a lot of kids at school talked about it. Didn’t really know you all that well but then I recognized the two different Ryan’s were the same guy."

"It’s a long story," Ryan looked down, not wanting to get into the details of that fateful day in the fall of junior year, when that kid Noah basically spat his gum into Ryan’s hair unknowingly.

"Tell me when I’m older," Matt teased. "Promise?" and then he extended the same arm again, this time with his pinky out.

Ryan laughed some more, but pinky swore the kid across from him. "Yeah, sure man. When you’re older." This was extremely weird, the whole vibe, Ryan didn’t know what to make of it, or perhaps what Matt was even making of it, or trying to perhaps?

They sat there a moment longer in silence, before Matt let out this cross between a laugh and a gasp. "You’re gonna think this is crazy, what I’m about to say."

"Try me," Ryan said, they were already hungover and had ended up sleeping in the same bed. Who knows where Ryan’s friends and everyone else were. He could hear some commotion through the open window of those seniors that probably pulled an all-nighter and were still partying below by the pool, and would be sleeping on the beach the whole afternoon to come before doing it all again one last time tonight.

"I," Matt started. "I really like your haircut on you, man. Its pretty cool."

"Thanks," Ryan stroked the back of his head at that comment. "Took some getting used to, and then eventually I went for the fade, and now haven’t looked back. Don’t do it myself though, I’m not that talented. Still learning everything."

"True that," Matt laughed. "Have you cut anyone else’s hair, though?"

"Yeah," Ryan said, telling Matt how he practiced with Al mostly, and then some of the other barbers in the shop on occasion. That he’d started to trim up his dad’s hair here and there, had cut all three of his brothers, and then all three of his best friends for the first time just yesterday.

Another moment paused between them, as they both looked around the room, or down at their laps, before Matt broke the silence once more, "Think you could hook me up?"

"With a haircut?" Ryan said, hoping he didn’t sound overly surprised.

"I’ll pay ya, dude," Matt offered.

"No," Ryan said, flustered. "I meant—no need to pay me. But, are you sure?"

"Yeah, it would be cool, don’t you think?"

Ryan nodded his head, thinking of the tools he coincidentally brought with him on this weekend away, in the off chance a moment like this occurred, that one of his friends mentioned to someone that Ryan cut their hair. But never in a million years would Ryan have predicted someone like Matt would be that stranger, no less, interested as well. This whole encounter was getting wilder and wilder. So, why not go for it? Take this bait, if any.

Ryan told Matt to grab that chair and bring it into the bathroom. Then Matt said, "How about on the balcony? See the ocean from a far?"

"Okay," Ryan obeyed. Without a mirror would be interesting, but he imagined this was just going to be a light trim if anything. So he let Matt do as he wanted as Ryan got his tools in order, eventually meeting him outside. "Shoot, forgot a cape."

"Its all good, I’m already half naked," Matt smiled.

Ryan laid out his tools on a towel on top of a little coffee table he pulled from inside. Then stood behind Matt and said, "Just a trim, sir?"

Suddenly, Matt grabbed Ryan’s hand, pulled him around to face each another, and then said. "I want your haircut, man, if you can do it."

"You’re joking?!" Ryan was in shock.

"I am not joking you, bro," Matt said. "Come on, I told you I liked your cut."

"But your hair, dude," Ryan instantly pawed his right hand through Matt’s long locks, the last person to ever do so. "Its so perfect."

"And it’ll be made even better when you hook me up with that Ryan special," he flirted. "Come on man, before I change my mind? My ex would have hated short hair on me, and now that we’re through, I can be free. What do you say?"

All these things Matt was saying were certainly playing with Ryan’s head. What did he think? On one hand he was nervous and said to see the beautiful blonde boy become transformed. But the fact Ryan got to do it, that he was in control? Wow, this was suddenly making Ryan go all warm and fuzzy all over, and he was nervous he wouldn’t be able to contain himself. So, he quickly moved around to behind Matt, and grabbed a pair of scissors and a comb, stroking through these glistening waves, offering, "One last chance?"

"Do it," Matt ordered, like he was a drill sergeant.

And then, Ryan combed out one section from the side, held it at length, and bluntly cut it off, the first of many to hit the floor, removing the excess bulk first. Wisps and wisps of blonde streaks began to float through the air and onto the ground or on Matt’s bare shoulders and torso, which was showing off a nice defined line of abdomens that weren’t the super show-off kind. It was like hay being bailed and tilled by a farmer, except that farmer was Ryan. And this was only the start, removing this signature look from Matt, and even this one part alone would leave him virtually unrecognizable, and yet he wanted to look just like Ryan!

A few more snaps of the scissors, and crunches and crunches from the clash to the hair, and then the balcony was absolutely littered with Matt’s hair. And yet, there was still so much to do. Beneath these blonde locks, his hair was still a fair enough color, not like he suddenly showed brunette roots beneath like most might have. Once this preliminary scissor work was complete, it was time for the main act. And no point in asking Matt if he was absolutely sure about this, he sounded it only moments before. And Ryan was really beginning to like this. So he fired up the pair of clippers into the sound of the quiet morning, starting from the back, and slowly yet effectively began to peel away at Matt’s hair, halfway up his head passed through the occipital bone. He swore he heard Matt let out a silent moan, but wasn’t too sure, as Ryan removed a long strip of hair, and in its wake was hardly stubble. Ryan continued this motion again and again on the back, no conversation between the two teenagers at all. Then he moved onto the left side, and the right, focusing on the haircut but also trying to gage a sense for Matt’s reaction, who just peacefully sat there and took it all in, this complete transformation.

Once the first step of the shearing was done, Ryan took out another set of clippers, and then began to go over the same work again, just not as high, with hair still flying off like swarms of bees. This was before the real bee effect, taking out the balding clippers, which Ryan took great pleasure in indulging Matt in, as he held his head in place and rotated and vibrated this set of clippers all along the sides, back, and neckline of Matt, at one point Matt closing his eyes so gently and only for a brief moment, taking the whole sensation and treatment in like the stranger he was to it. After that bit of fun was blending the sides and back to what was up top, before the next part of the big show which was the top itself.

Ryan had left enough hair in the front, that he was looking forward to lopping off, which he did in about three snips, after combing it all down, covering the whole of Matt’s head, but then severely chopped way above the kid’s eyebrows. Then Ryan continued on with the clipper over comb technique Al always did on him, starting from the crown and slowly making his way to the front of Matt’s head, leaving enough in the front to blend the two, and make the bit of hair he left up front stand up in a coif just like his own. Blow drying it and clippering it to fit into exact shape, just like Ryan’s did. Then a little bit of product here and there, taking out the edgers to clean up any loose strands that seemed to be hanging around. Finally, Ryan took a spare wash cloth he found in the bathroom, and wiped Matt’s face and neck down before handing him a hand held mirror and asking, "So, what do you think, sir?"

Matt covered his mouth as he held the mirror in his other hand, his face went red and he shut his eyes, looking like he was about to cry, which really made Ryan want to cry. Crap, he knew this was a bad idea, he was way in over his head, until Matt shouted, "Dude, I effing love it. I’ve always wanted my hair this short. I think that’s partially why I enlisted."

"You—you enlisted?"

"Yeah man," Matt turned around and looked at him. "No college for me either, and not much of a summer as well. Going into the army, sort of thing a lot of my family has done, both men and women. Sad I won’t get to keep this haircut forever, but I’m glad I still did it."

"Oh," Ryan was stunned for words. "Well, it looks great, seriously."

"Thank you, man," Matt stood up from his seat and brought Ryan in for a big hug, one he didn’t let go of for five seconds, catching Ryan’s attention too. "Come on, let me help you clean up, it’s the least I can do since I can’t pay you."

"No need to pay me, it was my pleasure," Ryan offered a smile back at the new looking kid. Although, now he was starting to feel a little down. Maybe he wasn’t in over his head about getting to cut a stranger, but that it was Matt, and now, Matt was gonna be leaving in a matter of weeks after graduation. A part of Ryan suddenly felt…sad.

"Something wrong? Does it look that bad?" Matt asked the long-faced Ryan.

"No, no, sorry, just tired and this hangover. Honestly can’t believe I gave you one."

"Hangover haircuts, we should make a sign for you and you can wear it around today," Matt winked at him, and then patted Ryan on the back. And the truth was, they did hang out, for the rest of the weekend. It was like they had been best friends since kindergarten, and now looking like brothers with the matching haircuts. Everyone was stunned by Matt’s new look, and he was happy to tell everyone and anyone that it was all thanks to Ryan that morning.

A few guys started to take an interest, but there were no more haircuts for the weekend. Ryan said he was going to promise to have fun the rest of the time, and mostly because he didn’t want to waste or lose another second with Matt by his side, knowing come Monday everything would be totally back to normal. Like Cinderella when the clock struck midnight. And he had no problem again that night/ morning when he collapsed back into his room, some of his friends and a bunch of other strangers too, everyone piling in all over the place. Matt was the last to walk in, shoving another senior to the side as he drunkenly said, "Move," before flopping onto the bed, crawled up and curled next to Ryan, and fell asleep on his shoulder just like the day before. And Ryan couldn’t help but tilt his head onto Matt’s and fall asleep with a smile.

The next morning, Matt was gone. As were a fair amount of the random kids who had crashed. But Ryan could still feel Matt’s presence somehow. There was a little note from his bunk buddy for the weekend, brief, saying, "Ryan—had a blast these last couple days, hope it was for you too bro. See you on Monday, and thanks again for the fresh cut, this weekend changed my life." Ryan couldn’t help but softly smile in private at the note, tucking it away in his things when packing before check out, then safely keeping it elsewhere when he got home that night.

Ryan would see Matt on Monday, in passing. They both said a quick hey and caught up for a minute, before Ryan started to get bombarded with other senior boys, who were suddenly asking for him to cut their hair. And then they told a friend, who told two others, and they then told two others as well. Until Ryan had to literally put out on his Facebook a status (which he didn’t remember the last time doing) that he would accept DM’s from people who wanted haircuts before Saturday’s graduation, but he would be organizing it for night time cuts. He told Al all about this on Tuesday when the appointments were flooding in, and Al offered, "Want to use the shop?"

"No, I’m good, but thanks Al. Dad said I can use our garage, will be easier since it’ll be late. I’ll use the shop when it’s the real time, you know what I mean?"

"I do, Ryan, I do," Al beamed, "Think about it, you’ll be graduating from Barber school in a matter of a year now, young man.

"I know," Ryan blushed. "Sorta strange, right? How time can go by so quick?"

"That’s life, young man," Al nodded. "But it always has a way of catching back up with us, or we catch up with those we’ve missed or been missing, you know?"

Ryan took that to heart, thinking about all that was to come in the next week, seeing people for the last time, hopefully some others during the summer before everyone went their separate ways. And then he’d still be around these woods, but onto a new path, an exciting one. And like Al said, time would go by fast, but it would always catch back up and we won’t lose sight of it. Just had to let everything come and go as they were meant to, Ryan smiled to himself as he swept up the last of the customers Tuesday night, thinking how far he had come, and still had to go…




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