Around the Bend

July 22, 2009
By Anonymous

Audrey stood in the waiting area, tapping her foot, impatiently waiting for the clerk to find her assigned hair cutter. She wanted this to be over with; she wanted to be home right now, curling up on the couch with a book, all the events of the day washing away, like the tide receding from the beach.

“Hey, Audrey,” A young guy greeted her, walking over to shake her hand, “I’m Terrance. Come on back, and we’ll get your hair washed.” His hand was midnight black, slicked up in a tiny Mohawk with purple highlights, and he wore a plain white t-shirt, and black skinny jeans, which somehow, paired with his luminous hair, made him look cool. She felt plain in comparison with his vibrant style.

“Kay,” She mumbled, following him to the back of the store, where he directed her to an empty sink. Slinking into the chair, she sighed, as he started to run the water, massaging her scalp. She hoped wouldn’t want to talk to her, that he would just cut her hair and be done with it, so she could avoid the social confrontation. She hated meeting new people; she was always embarrassed she wouldn’t say or do the right things.

“So what school do you go to Audrey?” Terrance asked, scrubbing her thick brown hair with shampoo.

“Jefferson High,” Audrey answered, blushing when her voice squeaked. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to notice.

“Me too!” He exclaimed, as if he were genuinely excited he had attended the same school, “Or, at least, I used to go there.”

They began a conversation about the teachers, and the atmosphere, which Audrey was curious to discover had not changed much since he had been in High school. She told him about a tough teacher she’d had, and laughed when he called her a ‘dictator, the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since Stalin!’

“But really,” He finally said, “Even though she might not have a heart, she just wanted to prepare you for college, because that’s really what high school is all about.”

Audrey nodded, although she didn’t totally agree with him; some teachers were just plain nasty.

“Alright,” Terrance clapped his hands together, running over to the cabinets to snag a white fluffy towel, which he delicately wrapped around Audrey’s hair, instructing her to take a seat in his chair, while he finished cleaning up.

Walking back out into the main part of the store, Audrey felt a smile creep up on her face, surprised that she was enjoying Terrance’s company. She didn’t normally get a chance to talk to people her own age, except her friends, but they were too immature to carry out an education conversation.

“So, do you have any hobbies, Audrey?” Terrence asked.

Audrey whirled around, startled how quietly he had snuck up behind her. Regaining her composure, she answered, “Um, I like to write, and I plan tennis.” She felt embarrassed for how childish her voice sounded.

“Really?” He cocked his head to the side, playing with her hair, “My sister likes to write too. What do you write; stories, articles, poems…?”

Her cheeks reddening, Audrey answered, “Actually, I am writing a book.” Most people didn’t take kindly to this fact; usually they either stared at her funny, like it was unnatural for a teenager to have such high aspirations, or they asked her condescending questions, pretending to be interested, but Audrey didn’t see Terrance doing either of these things.

“What’s it about?” He pressed, scouring his draw for hair cutting scissors.

“It’s complicated,” She admitted, not wanting to have to explain the complicated plot. She bit her lip, waiting for him to ask another question, or to pry further.

Surprisingly he didn’t instead remaining quiet, honoring her privacy.

“So all we’re looking for today is a trim, right?” He asked, measuring out her hair.

“Yep,” Audrey was beginning to let her guard down, quickly becoming more comfortable with Terrance. “What about you? Any hobbies?”

He bit his lip, considering his answer, instead of just blurting out the first thing that came to mind, like most other adults, or teenagers her age would do. “Actually, I’ve been getting into a new hobby, called circuit bending.” He watched, a crooked smile forming on his face, as her eyebrows raised, having no idea what he was talking about.

“What’s circuit bending?” She asked, curious.

“Circuit bending is where you disassemble old children’s toys, or any small digital synthesizers, and you create totally new sounds.” He elucidated, his expressions and tone so animated, Audrey could tell he was passionate about the subject, “You create bend waves to create these spontaneous and random sounds…” He pursed his lips together, wondering how to explain it better. “I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s amazing when you finish, when you realize that the sounds you just created don’t exist anywhere else except on the object you were just working with. It’s truly amazing.”

She nodded, pretending to comprehend what he was telling her, but really she didn’t understand a single thing he said.

The silence hung in the air for a few minutes, as he combed and cut my hair, his fingers gently pulling apart the tangles. “So what kind of music do you like?” He inquired, crouching down so he could evenly cut the back of her hair.

Thinking, she finally said, “All kinds, except for rap and country.”

He laughed, “Yeah, me too. I kind of have an eclectic taste, but I mostly like rock and alternative.”

He then began listing bands from the eighties and nineties, such as Van Halen, Pink Floyd and Guns N’ Roses; bands Audrey had heard of, but never bothered to listen to. Thinking about that fact made her sad; I was so suck in my generation, in the Now, she hadn’t bothered to listen to any bands or artists from a few decades ago, instead labeling them ‘old’ or ‘out of date.’

“Enough about me,” Terrence finally said, “What are your favorite bands?”

Biting her lip, Audrey scoured her brain for the coolest, most unique band she could think of, and giving up when she couldn’t think of any, she replied honestly, “All Time Low.” This wasn’t a cheap, pop group or anything, but it wasn’t in the category of The Beatles either.

“Hmm,” Terrance surprised her by actually thinking about her answer, “I can’t say I’ve heard of them. I’ll be sure to look them up later.”

It was all Audrey could do to stop her mouth from popping open with surprise; no one had ever said that to her before. Usually adults only asked her personal questions to keep the conversation moving; none of them really cared about her answer.

Swallowing, Audrey shyly smiled, avoiding her reflection in the mirror, her cheeks flushing. “So do you live around here?” She asked, changing to subject to avoid her embarrassment.

“Yeah,” He said, “I live about twenty minutes away, with my sister and her boyfriend.” The way he said it, wasn’t regretfully, or ashamed, instead he sounded honestly happy to be leaving with her, even with her boyfriend around.

“Oh, that’s cool,” Audrey said lamely, staring into the mirror as he cut and styled her hair, his fingers easily sliding through her damp hair, leaving behind a layer of mouse and gel.

“Do you want me to blow dry your hair?” Terrance asked, toying with it.

“No, I mean yes. Yes, I would like my hair blow dried,” Audrey stammered, wondering why he was making her act like this.

As he blow dried her hair, the noise leaving no room for conversation, she played through their conversation in her head, unable to stop herself from analyzing every sentence she uttered, criticizing herself over and over in her mind, only stopping when she noticed Terrance staring at her reflection in the mirror, a grin plastered across his face. For a moment she wondered if he had read her mind, but then he commented, “I think your hair looks perfect.”

The corners of her mouth twitched, as he gazed at him, amazed at his self confidence. She would never take credit for something she’d done, but then again, maybe that was one of her faults.

But as she looked at herself, for once she could see her beauty, the way her hair shone in the light, and hung just above her shoulders. “Wow,” was all she could utter. Her normally frizzy, untamable mess of brown hair had been slicked down into a sleek bob that bounced as she turned her head.

“You see,” Terrance explained, “this is why I love what I do. You know, when you’re in math class and you’re wondering when you’ll every use it in real life? Well, this is an example; geometry is everything when it comes to cutting hair. With every style, every angle, you need to calculate in your head what the final project will look like, or how exactly the hair will rest on your head.” He sighed, “So, the next time someone asks you that question, now you have an answer.”

Audrey giggling, running her hands through her now silky hair, “Thank you,” She uttered, content with her reflection, unable to find a single fault with her haircut, “Thank you very much.”

“No problem,” Terrance winked at her, “It is my job after all.”

At that moment, Audrey caught sight of her mother through the window, and she sighed, hopping up off his chair, handing him back the smock he had buttoned around her neck. “I guess I’ll see you in a few months,” She said, really suddenly morose that she wouldn’t see him until her next hair cut.

“See you then.” Terrence gave her one of his dazzling smiles before turning around to clean up his station.

Later that night, Audrey sat criss-crossed on her bed, her laptop resting on her lap, as she typed in the search-bar, Circuit bending, while listening to an old Guns N’ Roses CD she had found in her mother’s CD collection, all the while thinking of Terrance, and his unique habits and music taste.

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