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The day felt as long as her legs looked stretched across her bed. Her back on the headboard, arms limp by her side, the air warm and sticking to her skin. One of her hands clutched her phone half-heartedly, having given up on refreshing her timeline in all social media apps she had gone through in the last few hours. Every single one of her contacts seemed to have given up as well, resulting in empty dashboards that only showed her the same content in a slightly different order.

 

She ran her hands over the back of her neck, gathering her massive dark hair and moving it away from her nape to see if that would make the weather more bearable. Why did she even have so much hair, anyway? Right now it was the longest it’s ever been, and with its volume, it was more akin to a mane than anything else. She had been keeping it tied up for most of the time lately, but she liked to leave it loose to breathe every once in a while. Even if it felt like it engulfed her entire body into a heat trap.

 

Boredom, however, was what was actually engulfing her as of that moment. It was not like she didn’t have stuff to do; the two or three final papers she still hadn’t finished looming over her seemingly careless mind. She did care though, and she should be working on them; but not today, not under this heat. Her eyelids started to droop over her eyes, her entire body relaxed under the hot, humid weather. It would be a good time for a nap, she thought.

 

But apparently she was the only one who thought that, because in the same instant her phone lit up and started ringing obnoxiously, making her shoot her eyes open again.

 

Angling her sight towards the screen, she searched for whoever was responsible for interrupting her moment, and was not surprised to find a familiar name on the caller’s ID: Bae Joohyun, her weird senior who she met in even weirder circumstances. Which involved a friend of a friend’s birthday party, a loose dog the size of a football at most, and a terrified Joohyun clinging onto Seulgi for her life without even knowing who she was. But none of that mattered now; or at least it didn’t matter as much as the fact that Joohyun hated texting in the same way Seulgi hated talking on the phone.

 

She would pick up for Joohyun, though. As she always did.

 

“Hey.” she greeted emotionlessly, feeling how hoarse her throat had become from just quietly browsing the internet for the whole day.

 

Oh my god, who are you? Answering me this fast on a Sunday?” She heard the laugh Joohyun was trying to bite back, even though there wasn’t much effort in attempting to hide it.

 

“Shut up, you ass.” Seulgi tried to sound serious but Joohyun’s giggles got to her faster than she could put on a facade, and she was soon laughing too. “What’s up with you calling on a Sunday? Thought you were gonna isolate yourself from the world in these next weekends to work on your graduation project.”

 

Ah, yeah, that. Don’t even remind me of it.” The cheer in her voice dimmed ever so slightly, making Seulgi realize that maybe, like herself, Joohyun didn't want to think about her responsibilities. At least not for now. “I’m just calling because I need your help with something.

 

“With your project? You know I am really awkward at talking to people and stuff and you know I can’t write in academic jargon to save my life--”

 

No, no, no, it has nothing to do with that.” Seulgi heard her let out a small, breathy laugh, the tension in her voice disappearing. “Can you come over?

 

Seulgi pondered if she should. She had her own stuff to take care of, but it was not like she was even doing it. She should do it, though. But if she hadn’t been doing up till now, would passing this chance to see Joohyun make her start working on anything? Probably not.

 

“Okay, but… You’re not gonna tell me what you need me for?”

 

I need you to come here. And then you’ll see  what it is.

 

Seulgi sighed good naturedly. “And then when we call you a mom, you get mad. You sound just like one.”

 

Hey!” Joohyun's pitch raised a few semitones at the accusation. They both laughed at her reaction, and as they quieted down Joohyun spoke again, sounding slightly eager. “So, you’ll come?

 

Seulgi sat up on her bed, stretching as she answered. Joohyun’s dorm room wasn’t in the same block as hers, but it wasn’t far. “Yeah, yeah. I just gotta change and I’ll be there in a bit.”

 

Great! When you get here you can let yourself in. You know the passcode, right?” Noticing there was no response from Seulgi, she sighed. “You don’t remember it, do you.

 

“I do, just… Tell me again so I can be sure.”

 

~

 

As she walked down the streets circling the dorms in her trusty yellow tank top and faded jean shorts, she thought of the reasons Joohyun could have to invite her over. Her senior could be rather impulsive at times, especially if a competition of any kind was involved; maybe she got into a mess because of it? Usually when that happened, it was possible to hear faint yelling coming from the other side of the line as Joohyun called from her phone. Seulgi knew it couldn't have been another of her investigative journalism adventures because whenever Joohyun called during those, Seulgi could hear papers being flung around as she talked, and this time no sounds like that were present.

 

Coming to think of it, Seulgi could almost always gauge what her senior was up to simply from listening to the background noise in her phone calls. Huh. Who would have thought.

 

Reaching the first of three flights of stairs she would have to climb to get to Joohyuns room - the elevator in her block has been broken for two weeks and the dorm management still didn’t bother to fix it -, she pulled out her phone from the pocket Seungwan helped her sew into her shorts to check the time. Her eyes fell towards the picture in her lockscreen; Joohyun’s face took the most space on it, and behind her you could see Seulgi and their other three best friends: the aforementioned Seungwan, the hotheaded Sooyoung and the baby of the group, Yerim. Seulgi smiled at the memory of when Joohyun stole her phone to take that photo, and allowed herself a few moments before the end of her climb to stare at the beauty in the screen. Joohyun’s black hair flowed wildly in the picture; it had been a windy day. She was trying to hold it back with one hand as she took the picture with the other, and because of that her expression contorted into an annoyed frown.

 

Seulgi smiled, remembering how cutely angry Joohyun got when her plan to tease Seulgi and steal her phone actually backfired and she was the one ended up looking silly in the pic. Seulgi still loved that picture, though. It was so Joohyun. And it captured the essence of their group so well, with Seungwan with a funny looking worried expression as she hid behind Seulgi’s shoulder, Sooyoung and Yerim having to support each other to not fall to the ground from laughing, and Seulgi gazing at Joohyun with a big dumb smile on her lips.

 

Yeah, that pretty much defined them. It pretty much defined her.

 

Putting her phone back into the improvised pocket, she jumped over the last two steps and arrived at Joohyun’s floor. Spinning on her heel, she almost pranced towards her seniors apartment, pausing for a second in front of the door, both to shuffle her brain for the passcode that she was almost forgetting again, and to check if Joohyun was up to anything by listening for weird sounds behind the threshold. Hearing nothing, she pushed in the pin and the door unlocked with a soft click.

 

Opening it slowly, she peered inside and didn’t see Joohyun at first. But now with the free passage of sound, she could hear faint snipping coming from the back of the apartment, probably from her senior’s room. Just what was she doing?

 

“Joohyun?” Seulgi called, a bit apprehensive, while leaving her shoes by the door. “I’m here!”

 

The snipping ceased instantly and Seulgi’s shoulders relaxed upon hearing the low voice of her friend. Why she was tense, she couldn’t tell. But those snipping sounds were a bit ominous, if she had any say about it.

 

“I’m in my room!” Seulgi saw Joohyun’s tiny hand peeking out the door to call her over. She usually came to the living room to greet Seulgi, and the younger one found it a bit offputting that Joohyun didn't leave her room this time.

 

“I picked up my phone for you, came over here, and you're not even gonna greet me?” Seulgi joked, trying to sound angry but it just came out comically fake. “You could have texted me like I always ask you to but nooooo. You have to call me and leave me hanging here.”

 

“Oh shut up, Seulgi.” She could hear Joohyun's snort from all the way near the entrance, her voice getting louder as Seulgi made her way towards its source. “We set this up in less than a minute with a phonecall, while if I texted you, you'd never see it ‘cause you would be sleeping and would only answer me tomorrow. It just gets things done.”

 

“Sure. It's not just because you're completely inept at using a cellphone.”

 

“Ass.” Seulgi laughed as she shuffled towards the room but halted in her step when Joohyun spoke again. “Hey, uh. Just warning you. When you get here, it might be a little weird at first so... Well, come and see.”

 

“Um. You’re scaring me a bit.” Seulgi chuckled nervously, instinctively shoving her hands into her pockets. She resumed her path towards Joohyun's room, stopping by the door so she could ask for her senior's permission to get in, as the polite girl she was. But she never had time to look at Joohyun, because the first thing she felt when reaching the room was something soft under her foot, which made her shoot her eyes towards the carpeted floor. “What are you--”

 

But her voice died down the moment she saw black. Black under her feet; black covering the light brown carpet in soft streaks, some longer, some shorter; black reflecting the sunlight coming from Joohyun's open window; black being shuffled around by the calm breeze entering the room. Black like Joohyun's wind swept hair in the picture Seulgi treasured so much. She stepped away and reached down to pick up one of the dark locks, feeling the familiar texture on her fingertips.

 

It was hair, and not just any hair.

 

“What…” Seulgi muttered again, but couldn't finish her sentence as she leveled her gaze towards the owner of the black tresses, who had an expectant look in her eyes, a nervous smile or her lips and whose long flowing hair that used to fall down her shoulders was nowhere to be seen.

 

Well, it was definitely there to be seen, all over the place. Just not on Joohyun's head as it was supposed to be.

 

“Please say something, Seulgi. You're making me even more nervous looking at me like that.” Joohyun said, with shaking pupils but the smile never faltering, running her fingers through her hair that now was only a couple inches long. Seulgi then realized she had been gawking at her friend for a while, with wide eyes, mouth hanging open and hand clenched around the tuft she picked up from the ground. Shaking her head to push away the surprise, she met Joohyun’s anxious eyes again and inhaled sharply in preparation to comment on what she just saw.

 

“Your hair.” It was all she could muster. She couldn't even conjure up a compliment, or any criticism. Joohyun just looked so different, her hair being one of the features that held a major presence in her countenance. She looked so unlike Joohyun and yet, for some reason that Seulgi still could not pinpoint, she had never looked so much like Joohyun before. Maybe it was that now, without that black curtain framing her face, her other features called more attention to themselves; not that they were disguised before, but now it felt like Joohyun's sharp nose, her defined jaw, her big ears poking out from the dark fluff on her head were all taunting Seulgi, making it much harder for her to simply ignore how beautiful her friend was.

 

Joohyun's giggles brought her back from her daze and she watched as her senior got up from the chair she positioned in front of the mirror attached to her wardrobe door and left the pair of scissors she had been using to cut her hair on top of her desk, coming towards Seulgi to greet her properly. “Didn't think you would be this shocked. Should have given you a better heads up, sorry.” Joohyun looked down, seeming a bit embarassed, but still keeping that sweet smile.

 

“It's not--” Seulgi started, still finding it hard to organize her thoughts when her emotions were all over the place. “I just--” She finally let go of the lock she had been holding for dear life, watching it float gently to the ground as she tried to recover her ability to speak. “You just look so… Wow.”

 

“I'll take that as a compliment.” Joohyun laughed again and sat on her bed this time, patting her side to invite Seulgi to sit with her. “I didn't really expect you to have a negative reaction but I'm not gonna lie, I'm really thankful you didn't go ‘What have you done!’ or anything like that.”

 

Seulgi plopped herself down by her friend and noticed how much more relaxed she seemed compared to when Seulgi entered the room. “You look amazing. I mean, it looks amazing on you.” Seulgi corrected herself, clearing her throat and fidgeting with the hems of her pockets, resisting the urge to defensively hide her hands there like she always did when slightly threatened by anything. “Even if it looked like shit I think I wouldn't say something like that, though…”

 

“Of course you wouldn't. You're literally the nicest person I know, even if you like to tease me sometimes.” Joohyun slapped her arm weakly, earning an airy laugh from her younger friend. Quieting down, Seulgi's expression contracted into a cute frown, as some doubts ran through her mind.

 

“But it was really sudden, I'll admit.” Seulgi tried to think of moments Joohyun mentioned anything about wanting to change up her appearance, any signs of unhappiness with the previous state of her hair. Joohyun mostly kept to herself when it came down to her own issues, something that slightly bothered if not upset Seulgi, as she thought it was not a very healthy approach to dealing with your problems. If Joohyun was facing any disturbance with her own emotions, her friends would only know of it after she had solved it by herself. And if she didn't solve it, well… Then no one would know about it until she did. Even if that meant keeping it locked forever.

 

Seulgi could chastise her for it right now, but something told her that this time Joohyun didn't want to keep it in. If it had been like all the other times she would have simply shown up on monday with all of her hair chopped off and if anyone asked she'd say ‘I just like it like this’. It had been like that with her clothes, when she started wearing things like button ups that weren't form fitting like female cut clothes usually were, or male cut pants with pockets that inspired Seulgi to sew pockets onto her own clothes due to its practicality. One day Joohyun started wearing them, without asking anyone’s opinion on it, and from then on it was like that. Just Joohyun and her handsome attire. But even before, Seulgi remembered how her friend wore less and less makeup with time, soon showing up everyday with a bare face, her bushy eyebrows and clean eyes for everyone to see. People asked for a while, and she always shot them down. ‘I just like it like this. I feel better like this.’

 

Seulgi admired her not only because people could be really annoying at times, demanding she behaved like ‘a proper woman’, but also because Seulgi herself had a hard time bearing her own natural features, and seeing Joohyun trust her bare face to the point where she would have to defend herself from people because of it was definitely something else.

 

She wished she could ‘feel better like this’ too.

 

“I wasn't really planning on it.” Joohyun explained, her hand going back up to run  through the freshly cut hair again, trying to style it somewhat. Lacking the weight of its previous length, it went in all directions, untamed by the small hands that attempted to give it any form. Joohyun stared at herself in the mirror for one second, and then averted her eyes to the abandoned pair of scissors on the table. “I went to the stationary store to get some stuff for my project, and there was this whole wall with all sorts of scissors hanging on display.” Seulgi could see Joohyun's fingers fidgeting on her hair, and on the bedsheets. “I've been wanting to cut it for a long time, and that just felt like a sign. I immediately left, and after looking around for a while I found a cosmetics shop that sold those.” She nodded towards the pointy, sharp tool she’d been eyeing since she started talking. “But I kind of underestimated how hard it is to cut your own hair? I mean, thinking back on it, I should have just gone to a barber shop or something.”

 

“But you were impulsive and decided to do it on your own since you already got your mind on it.” Seulgi smirked, and Joohyun slapped her arm again.

 

“Yeah.” Joohyun agreed, looking like what she really wanted to say was ‘I hate that you know me so well’. “But you see,” She swung her head from one side to the other, staring at her reflection again as if somehow she could see every angle at the same time by doing that. “I can't really look at the back of my head so fixing the back of my hair has been… Well, it hasn't been.” She let her body fall on the bed with a soft thud, looking up at the ceiling with a sigh. “‘Cause I can't do it.”

 

Seulgi raised her eyebrows knowingly and leaned back a bit to glance sideways at her senior, propping herself up on her hands. “So that's why you called me.”

 

“Yes. If I at least had a hand mirror I could do something but you know I gave the ones I had away because I didn't use them anymore.”

 

Seulgi hummed in agreement, smiling at her friend's decision to pass the items forward instead of just throwing them away. She then jumped off the bed, extending her hand to Joohyun and asking her senior to sit back on that chair and show Seulgi what she needed to do.

 

~

 

“So, why me?” Seulgi questioned, holding a tuft of Joohyun's black hair between her fingers so she could better see if all the strands had the same length. “Why did you call me and not like, Yerim?”

 

“Why would I call Yerim?” Seulgi eyed Joohyun's confused expression on the mirror for an instant before snipping at the tips of the hair she held. “She's a nice girl and all but I don't really know how she would react to this. Her teasing can really get out of hand and I don’t know if I'm ready--”

 

“I wasn't really thinking about that.” Seulgi interrupted with a low, amused laughter, letting go of the lock she finished cutting and running her hand over the back of Joohyun's head again to grab another tuft. “It's just her mom is a hairdresser, remember? If any of our friends could’ve helped you with this, it would have been her. I'm sure she must have some experience.”

 

Joohyun stayed quiet for a while, expression undecipherable, until she spoke up in a tiny voice Seulgi had to strain her ears to hear. “I completely forgot her mom was a hairdresser.”

 

“And you call me the forgetful one. Hey!” Seulgi reprimanded when Joohyun abruptly turned her whole body to punch Seulgi in the stomach. “Don't move out of nowhere like this, I have a sharp thing pointed at your head!”

 

“Who's sounding like a mom now?” Joohyun mocked, as always refusing to let anyone else have the last word, fixing herself back in the chair while Seulgi stood behind her.

 

“Not a mom thing to not want to stab your friend in the brains. Just common sense.”  Seulgi bent down, closer to her friend's head, so her myopic eyes could see better what she was doing. She knew this back and forth with Joohyun would go on forever if she allowed it, because her senior never gives up, so she brought back the question she had been trying to ask since the beginning. “So why me then?”

 

Joohyun hummed pensively, tapping her chin as she gathered her thoughts. “I figured you'd have a more aesthetic vision you know, being an art person and all. You know proportions and stuff like that. I thought it might be useful when cutting hair.”

 

Their eyes met through the mirror as Seulgi acknowledged her friend's words. Ah Joohyun, ever the most diligent at picking out people's strengths and allocating tasks pertaining to their strong points. Seulgi was happy with her senior's reasoning but she couldn't help feeling a little bit disappointed that Joohyun called her only for her abilities and not because they were best friends and Joohyun trusted her the most.

 

“I was also sure that you would be the most understanding out of everyone and I wasn't really ready to show them yet.” There it was. Seulgi’s chest swelled in pride, the big dumb smile she always had around Joohyun plastering itself on her lips automatically. She wasn't ready to show them but she was ready to show her. Seulgi laughed her breathy laugh again, trying to convey how thankful she felt for Joohyun's trust without having to fumble with her words like she probably would have if she tried to speak right now.

 

But that made Seulgi think of just how much this must have meant to Joohyun. She was suddenly reminded of what was said before she started snipping at her senior's hair, and her curiosity got the best of her as she spoke, trying to not sound so eager. “You mentioned you've wanted to cut your hair for a long time.”

 

It wasn't really a question, but it was, in some way. In a ‘you've never talked about it before’ kind of way; a ‘why have you kept it for yourself?’ kind of way. A ‘if you'd like to share, I'm all ears’ kind of way.

 

Joohyun knew she would ask, and Joohyun knew she wanted to know. When she called Seulgi over, she knew she would end up talking about it, and she knew she called Seulgi over because she wanted to talk about it. So she waited for Seulgi to let go if her hair and with a huff, she began.

 

“Have you ever looked in the mirror and didn't recognize yourself?”

 

Seulgi’s gaze went from Joohyun's eyes reflected in the mirror to her own image as she let those words sink in. She knew it was a rhetorical question but couldn't help to let her mind wander. She traced her own face with her eyes; saw her painted monolids, her hair up in a bun, her loop earrings. But didn't have much time to wallow in it as Joohyun resumed speaking.

 

“Ever since I was little I just felt a bit… Off, somewhat. I think every girl feels this to a degree when we're kids, right? All the restrictive clothing stopping us from playing, and the adults telling us to behave and be nice while the boys get to run around. Every girl hated it, every woman still hates it.”

 

Seulgi agreed with a shake of her head, not wanting to interrupt Joohyun's thought process by saying anything. She remembered those exact scenarios playing out when she was young, with her brother getting much more freedom to be a child than she ever did.

 

“But as we grow up, we're supposed to also grow into it, yeah? Femininity, I mean. We used to hate wearing dresses because it stopped us from climbing up trees but as we get older and want to look pretty, the uncomfortable factor just melts away as we like what we see in the mirror. We want to look like women, like our moms and older cousins and cool seniors.”

 

She paused for a moment, gaze lowering to the floor and hands clasping together. Seulgi stepped back a bit, sitting down on the bed to listen to Joohyun, noticing the slight frown forming in her friends expression.

 

“But I never got used to it. Never wanted it. Remember when you told me you played with your mom's makeup in elementary school? I never did anything like that. The closest I ever got to it was using my mom's lotions because they smelled nice.” She smiled fondly at the memory, but as quickly as it came it was gone. “But as I grew I needed to do it, like everyone else, even if I didn't like it. The makeup. The shaving. The clothes. And the hair, the pretty long hair every other girl had and that everyone else loved and made sure I knew they loved it.”

 

Joohyun looked back up towards her reflection, as if she was somehow staring at her past self. “No one really forced me into anything, really. It was more like… People complimented me more when I did all of that. Were nicer to me. My family, people at school, people at work. Everyone took me more seriously and saw me as an adult when I did all of that. When I went out in comfortable clothes and simpler makeup - not even without makeup! - everyone acted like I was a child, like I was a girl refusing to grow up, still attached to the liberty to dress up however I want, because women can't dress however they want. Grown women have to look like grown women, not like some twelve year old boy!”

 

The anger in her voice was becoming more noticeable with every word, making Seulgi realize that this last sentence wasn't just a offhanded example to illustrate her situation. Seulgi wondered who had uttered these foul words at Joohyun to warrant such a disheartened expression on her face.

 

“So I still did it, everytime I went out; everytime I had to see and talk to other people, I did it. Even if every time I looked it the mirror all I could see was this… Alien version of myself, a new face drawn over what I really looked like, clothes that shaped my body in ways it wasn't supposed to be, tricking everyone's eyes. But not mine, because I knew what was really under all that.”

 

“For a long time I hoped that I would end up tricking myself like I had tricked everyone else and start believing that that was what I was supposed to look like. And that like every other girl I knew, I would start to enjoy looking pretty. But it never happened. And the more time passed, the more uncomfortable I got with what I saw when I stared at my reflection. That wasn't me. It just wasn't me.”

 

“I was putting on all that work to create a person that I didn't even like. All the hours I spent in front of the mirror doing my makeup, in the shower shaving and taking care of my hair; my god damned hair.” She shut her eyes, immersing herself in these bad memories one last time, ready to let them go now. A dry chuckle escaped her lips. “Even after I stopped with the makeup and changed my entire wardrobe, people didn't stop complimenting my hair. And it's not that I don't like compliments, it's just that it was clearly noticeable that people were doing it because it was the last speck of femininity I still held on to. ‘Your hair is so long, so pretty!’ No one complimented my clothes anymore, said I looked good in them. No one complimented my face, said my beauty was out of this world like they used to. But my hair, my long, long beautiful hair.” She clenched her fists, still with her eyes closed.

 

“I wanted it off. But just like it wasn't easy to drop the clothes and the makeup and the shaving, for some reason it was even harder to let my hair go. Everytime I gave up on one aspect of femininity, my mind kept telling me I was becoming less of a woman. Well, not just my mind.” Another laughter, that instead of warming up Seulgi's insides like Joohyun's cheerfulness always did, just made her feel incredibly sad. “I fought a lot with my family about this. Mainly my mom. And my grandma. Nowadays things are better but it took a long time to get where we are now.” She opened her eyes, turning back to look at Seulgi directly for the first time since she started talking. “Our fights left this mark, and I felt disgusting and wrong, even if they don't yell at me anymore; I felt like if I held on to this last piece of ‘womanhood’ I could be worthy in their eyes, because even if they don't throw accusations of only-doing-this-to-hurt-them at me anymore, I know they hate it. I see it in the way they look at me.”

 

“I had already gone so far but I still kept my hair, taking care of it even while hating it.” An awkward smile made its place onto her lips. “But I looked at all those scissors and I realized that I've wanted it for so long but I never did it because I was hiding behind it. Hiding behind these black curtains in hope that people wouldn't see me. Wouldn't see I'm different.”

 

“So I had to face it. If I ever wanted to be myself fully, I had to stop hiding. And even if my brain keeps telling me otherwise, I know that this is the most womanly thing I've ever done.”

 

Seulgi watched Joohyun as she stared down at her reflection again, running her hand through her hair once more, a crooked smile back on her face and eyes glimmering with the newfound clarity of a child who recognized herself in the mirror for the first time. Seulgi saw Joohyun with her bare face, muscle shirt, men's shorts, pulling at the tips of her even shorter hair, and at that moment Seulgi swore the woman in front of her had never looked so beautiful.

 

“Do you feel pretty now?” Seulgi asked finally, not realizing her own words until after they left her mouth. She looked away in an attempt to appear nonchalant.

 

“I don't care about looking pretty. But I like what I see in the mirror now, and that's more than enough for me.”

 

Seulgi smiled broadly at that, happy for her friend. “Thank you for sharing this with me, Joohyun.” In a moment of bravery, she continued, again trying to suppress how affected she was by her friend's appearance. “And you might not give a shit about it but I still think you look pretty dashing.”

 

“Well thank you, Miss Kang.” Joohyun laughed, and this time it was that laugh Seulgi loved to hear, that filled up her stomach with all sorts of flying critters. “I feel so much freer now. A literal weight was lifted from my shoulders. Literal. You don't realize how much hair weights until it's off your head.”

 

Seulgi unconsciously grasped at her own bun, feeling for its mass. “I can feel mine is pretty heavy.”

 

“Exactly! And my hair is not even nearly as thick as yours but still, wow. I feel like I've never moved my neck properly before.” Seulgi widened her eyes a bit, amused by her friends excitement. “Not to mention I don't feel like I'm trapped in an oven anymore.”

 

“Oh my god, yes! I've been leaving mine tied up all the time these past weeks because otherwise, it's unbearable.”

 

“See!” They laughed together, Joohyun relaxing and sliding down the chair ever so slightly. Seulgi noticed how she had seemed slightly defensive while listing the advantages of having cut her hair so short, as if giving those valid motives would be enough justification for something that didn't need to be justified at all. She had done it at last, but that didn't mean that her fight with herself was over. The harshest judgement is always the one we pass over ourselves. Seulgi hoped that with time, her friend would learn to accept her hair as she had accepted all other parts of herself.

 

“But you know, there's one bad thing about all of this.” Joohyun was pouting and Seulgi pouted too, confused.

 

“What?”

 

“Someone's gotta clean this mess up!” Joohyun gestured towards all the hair covering the floor, eyebrows going wild in that way only Joohyun could muster. Seulgi let her head fall back, laughing at all the drama Joohyun put up to say something so obvious.

 

“Don't worry, I'll help you once I'm finished with your hair.” She jumped off the bed, approaching her friend again with the pointy scissors. “Just stay still and I'll be able to wrap it up faster.”

 

“Ok, mom.” Joohyun giggled and Seulgi shook her head, letting her senior have the last word this time.

 

Seulgi allowed herself one last moment to stare at her own eyes reflected in the tall mirror. Joohyun's story gave her much to think about. But like she'd procrastinated her work, she could procrastinate pondering about it as well. About her relationship with herself, about what she felt for Joohyun; she would reflect on it, but not right now, not under this heat. Not when she got the most beautiful woman in the world laughing at her, for her. There was no rush. It could wait.

 

It could wait.

 

~

 

Short Haired Joohyun