"Stylists needed. Visit Don's Salon and Tattoo parlour for details, or contact us by email, email@example.com. Additionally, you can call us at 8309-4576-130." I decided to call using my cell phone, excited at the prospect at getting a job. I talked to the manager on duty at the time, who's name was Don Lothario, and he conducted my interview right there and then.
"Do you have any qualifications?"
"Uh, well, I went to uni for a while and got a degree in Beauty, if that's what you mean."
"Really? Great! You can come in now and we'll give you a test run, if you like. You free?"
"Yep. There's nothing on."
"Fabulous, darling." I tried to hide a giggle at this, and instead took the phone away and coughed, disguising my laugh.
"Oh, are you OK?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, fine."
"All right then. Come on in, then. We'll see how you do."
"Fine, OK, thanks. See ya!"
(sorry about the time skip here. I have no pictures. D'oh!)
I arrived at the salon, and immediately one of my co-workers-to-be came and gripped my hand tightly, shaking it up and down.
"Good to have you!" He said, in a gruff voice. "You're here for the test run, ain'tcha? I'm Larry Cooper."
"Uh, yeah, hi. I'm AJ Houston." I said, slightly uncertainly. "Do you know where Don is?"
Larry jerked his thumb beside us. "Right there. Don't interrupt him, though. He's in one of his...odd moods."
"Heck, don't ask me. He says he gets these flashbacks of a different place. Personally I think he's bonkers, but he's one of the best stylists there is out there, so I ain't gonna complain."
"Um, OK. He'll be surveying my work, won't he?"
"'Course he will. He'll snap out of it soon enough.
"'Course he will. He'll snap out of it soon enough.
Just then, the store phone rang and Don answered it, not acknowledging me. "Don's Salon and Tattoo Parlour, how can I help?" He listened while the client said what they wanted, and nodded, saying stuff like, "Sure, we can do that for you. Absolutely. See you then," and hung up the phone. He noticed me and walked over, nodding at me."
"Are you AJ Houston, the girl who's doing a test run?"
"Yeah," I said.
"I've got a client there that wants a makeover. Nothing drastic, just two new everyday outfits. You can do that?"
"No problem!" I said, smiling.
"Good. You'll be working at Station Three, just through there." He pointed through a door and I waited there until the client came.
(Sorry, another lack of pictures.)
The client was happy, and as he thanked me he paid me, then went to Don to say how much he liked it. Don apprehended his new appearance, then remarked, "A little young, but I have to say, it does look good. I'll relay the information to the stylist."
"Thanks!" said the client, before walking out the door, whistling a happy tune. Don came over to me and shook my hand.
"You got the job," he said, shaking my hand. "The client was happy, that's all that matters. If you need a little training, or aren't feeling terribly confident, just come and watch me at work."
"Ohmygosh! Seriously? Thank you so much!" I shook his hand vigorously and he became a little uncomfortable. "Sorry."
It was then that he walked in.
I was stunned for a second. Then, as I regained my sanity, he noticed me. He smiled for a second, and I knew he just had to be mine.
Now, I'm not one for love at first sight - that sort of thing makes me want to puke - but that very moment, I believed in it. That musky, slightly aftershave-y man smell just made me want to go over there and kiss the face off him. But, of course, that would just be weird. So I walked up, and calmly introduced myself.
"I'm AJ Houston," I said.
"Hal Breckenbridge," he said. "I haven't seen you round here. You new?"
"I just moved yesterday."
"Sweet." he said. "Where'd you move to?"
"You know that street with the really big houses...?"
"Phwoar! You're one of those rich kids?"
"Well, no. I was kicked out of my parents' home, and moved to a place that's a little more...humble."
I'm not that flirty, but I guess when his hand accidentally brushed mine he felt the spark too! I was so thrilled, and I have to say I flirted with him a little. OK, maybe not a little. More like a lot. Yes, I'm still at work, but my shift ended so I changed into my normal clothes. We moved a little closer together, and stared into each other's eyes. I went beetroot and he smiled.
And so the days went by. Each morning I got up and cooked waffles for myself, or ate the leftovers (which, quite frankly, tasted like the fridge and were generally cooked unevenly by the cheap stove) of a meal before. I chatted to Hal before work every day and sometimes he visited me. We hadn't actually been on a date yet, or even confessed our attraction for each other, but I had to do it soon or I would go insane - well, more insane than I was already. One day, as I was preparing for the day at work, he came in, filling the salon with that sweet yet manly scent of his. I turned to him and smiled, and he smiled back, somewhat nervously.
"Hal? Is something wrong?"
"Of course not!" He said quickly. "I just wanted to say, AJ, that...um...I think that I'm, uh..."
Horror spread across my face. "Hal! You're not gay, are you? Please tell me you're not gay!"
"AJ! No!" he yelped, a hint of a smile on his face. "I think I'm in love with you, OK?"
My mouth fell open in shock, and relief hit me like a wave in the chest. "I...I...Buh-buh-buh-"
His face fell. "It's OK. I understand." He turned and started to leave dejectedly.
"No, Hal! Wait!" I grabbed his hand and turned him around, to hold him close to me.
He stroked my cheek, and right there I wanted him to be with me, forever.
"I think I love you too, Hal."
And we stayed like that, holding each other, until my shift started, and then he left. My heart was left thumping unevenly in my chest as I gawped after him, unsure of what had just happened. But what I was sure of was that I was in love.
Perhaps life here wouldn't be so bad after all.