Cost of Living
The Cost of Living
Jenny stared at herself in the mirror with a mixture of depression and disgust. Her eyes were red and puffy and tear-streaked from the nearly two hours of non-stop crying. She couldn’t believe what had happened. How could she have let things go so far? How could she have doubted Brian? She ran it all through her mind again as if to find some hidden answer where she had found none before.
She had gone to a party the night before. Brian had to work till 10pm so they agreed he would meet her there when he got off work. She arrived at the party at 8:00pm and started drinking beer. There were at least 200 people there and it was jamming. Soon she had moved on to rum and coke, and was pounding them down left and right. By 10:30 Brian still hadn’t arrived, and being far from sober, Jenny began to get suspicious. She had always had a jealous streak when it came to Brian. He was an extremely handsome man, very witty, and very kind hearted. In the five years that she and Brian had been together, many, many women had openly expressed their desire to be with him and their envy of Jenny. She loved him dearly, and knew she could trust him, but sometimes her jealousy would just get the better of her. This was one of those times. She got drunker and drunker, and as she did she became more and more convinced that Brian’s lateness in arriving at the party just had to be due to the fact that he was with some bimbo somewhere. She had already called his work and was told he left an hour before, after which she called his house several times, no answer.
By 11:30pm she was completely blind with drink and jealousy and decided that two could play at that game. She made it obvious to every man at the party that she was looking for a good time, and soon found one. By 12:30 when Brian arrived at the party, she was passed out in a bed with her newly acquired lover. Brian said nothing, and simply left the party in disgust.
The next morning Jenny awoke hung over and unsure of what had happened. She didn’t remember anything clearly, but she knew she had screwed up big time when she saw the guy in bed next to her and realized it wasn’t Brian. She dressed as quickly as she could and went home. After showering and dressing she went to Brian’s house where she found him working on his motorcycle. She decided the best thing to do was take the offensive and snapped at him, “What happened to you last night? I waited for hours for you! You could have called and let me know that you weren’t coming!”
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Brian shot her a fierce glance and said, “I showed up. A little late, but I showed up.” Jenny’s mind went into a spin. She knew by his tone and look that she had been caught. She opened her mouth to try to explain but Brian cut her off saying, “I don’t want to hear it Jen, there is absolutely nothing you can say.” She knew he was serious, but she had to try anyway. She tried and tried and tried but nothing she said seemed to get through, and she knew he had no reason to listen to her. She knew she was wrong, and there was no reasonable excuse for what she had done. She cursed her jealousy not for the first time.
After over three hours of arguing and begging for another chance, she said the one thing that she was now not sure she should have said. In her desperation to win him back she told Brian she would do anything, absolutely ANYTHING if he would just give another chance. Brian made her swear that she would in fact do anything he said, and she, eager and counting herself lucky to even have a chance of keeping him, swore that she would do anything. A rather unusual and somewhat eerie wry smile came to Brian’s face and he told her that he would take her back but she had to prove herself to him. She told him she would do anything to prove her sincerity, and he told her to come to his house at 9:00 that night and they’d see just how sincere she was.
It was now 8:00pm. She had been crying for hours with the realization of what she had done and what the consequences of her actions would be. Before she left Brian’s house earlier that day he had told her what she would have to do to prove herself to him, and that if she wasn’t prepared to go through with it, not to bother to even show up. She looked at herself again in the mirror. She already knew that she loved Brian too much to let it end, and she knew that in order to keep him she had to go through with this. Maybe he wouldn’t really do it. Maybe this was just a test to see if she would go through with it. Maybe. Either way, she knew she had to go. She wiped her eyes, freshened up her makeup a little, and fearfully walked out the door.
She got to Brian’s house early and just sat in her car trying to figure out some way to get out of this and still keep Brian. But for all her thinking she couldn’t come up with anything other than begging him not to do it. So she decided to try it and hope for the best. Brian opened the door before she even reached it and warned her that once she stepped through the door, he didn’t want to hear any begging or pleading or anything. She could either come in, stay quiet, and take what she had coming, or just leave right now. She started to open her mouth in protest and he motioned as though to shut the door and with it all hopes of a reconciliation. His stern look told her this was really it, that he really meant it. Either take what she had coming, or go and never come back. So much for her plan to beg.
She walked in and immediately in front of her was the impromptu barber station Brian had set up. In a gruff and forceful voice he ordered her to sit in the chair and get it over with. With tears welling up in her eyes, Jenny sat in the chair. Brian put a towel around her shoulders and grabbed a handful of her hair. From the corner of her eye she saw him pick up the scissors, and the tears began to flow. She started to beg him with a half sadm half screaming voice not to do it He yelled back at her that she had had her chance to leave, and didn’t take it, and with that he lopped off the first huge clump of hair. Jenny nearly went into convulsions as lock after lock of her once beautiful long blond hair fell into her lap. Then she heard the hum of a clipper. She tried to get up but found she was paralyzed. She felt the clipper run straight up the back of her head hard and fast. Again and again the clipper went over sections of her head until finally Brian announced she was done. She looked at the floor around her and saw a sea of her hair. Brian said, “And that’s the way it will stay from now on!”