Sunday, June 04, 2017

The First (Proper) Time

I’d like to say I knew what I was getting into, but I’m not sure there is anyone who does. Most mornings I have the first half hour that the shop is open to myself. I make tea – and coffee for customers – read the paper, putter about. Today was different.

The woman who walked in carried a god in her eyes. And she knew what I was – I was certain of this, no matter how strong my glamour is. She came with a boy of eleven who smiled at me with an innocence lost even to babies. I new he was human, but the smile said otherwise.

“I am sorry: we aren’t open for another half an hour,” I lied smoothly. I am a very good liar, and that it was the truth meant it wasn’t a lie at all.

She smiled. Her smile was strained. “I know. But Jay needs a haircut.”

His hair was long, though not unduly so. “Yup! Only the very first time I had one, my hair didn’t want to be cut and it kinda got into a fight. Which was an adventure,” he added proudly.

“I thought you might have more luck, being fae.” The woman shrugged. “If nothing else, you could hide the damages.”

“Sleep.” The glamour for sleep is old and deep but unravelled as it reached him.

“Sleep?” The boy looked shocked. “Sleeping during the day isn’t jaysome at all! I’d miss out on lots of adventures!”

Even I, quiet and trying to remain so, even I had heard of jaysome. I had not believed, of course. But to every sense I had he remained human as though operating on a level of glamour beyond even our kind. “How many haircuts have you had?”

The boy scratched his head. “Four, I think. But the last two were when dragons tried to eat me, so they might not count?! And the one before that was cheating!”

I stared at him. Nothing save innocence stared back. “I have run this shop under four names for over twenty years with no one suspecting it is anything other than it is,” I said softly.

The woman nodded. “I know,” she said, the words almost an apology. “I had a haircut a week ago so he’s been asking about one ever since.”

I suspected ask was too mild a word. I gestured, and the boy practically leaped up into the chair and began telling me about his breakfast, adventures with Charlie and Honcho and a host of other things as breathtaking speed. He didn’t bother to pause for anything like breath. His hair moved away from my brush a few times. Two combs broke. But I finished it in under half an hour, shaking only a little by the end. The hair on the ground vanished, going some place Other so it could not be used against him. I doubt the boy even noticed doing it.

“This is my first time cutting hair like yours,” I said.

“Oh, good!” The woman – Charlie – had got outside to get a coffee and Jay spun the chair a few times and then grinned at me. “Thanks! It’s nice to get a haircut and not have to hide as much you know!”

A small part of me says I have glamours, if he wishes not to hide at all. I squelch it firmly. “Oh?”

“Uh-huh! Most of the time I have to remember to pause for breath when talking but I didn’t need to here so I got to tell you about even more adventures!”

I nodded, and told him the haircut was free because he had been very jaysome. And the last thing I wanted was a creature like this in my debt, though I didn’t even think that on the surface of my thoughts. He hugged me, tight and gently all at once and I think he did bindings on levels even I can barely feel. Nothing that would ever harm, of course. I understand that much about Jay by now. After he bound out of the chair and rushed outside to inform Charlie he had had the best adventure with his hair except for the time he’d pretended to be a Rapunzel.

The look on Charlie’s face was almost worth what I had been through.

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