The Surprise

I am sitting at the restaurant bar enjoying a few glasses of wine celebrating (silently) that this contract is over and I will never again set foot in such a disgusting establishment. While drinking and making small talk with some of the regulars (who are very nice and quite knowledgeable about food) my cell rings; it is my fianc?, Molly. I excuse myself and walk outside, light up a cigarette and press the talk button.

“Hey kid. How’s work?” I ask. “Not busy at the moment, but we have a double shooting coming in a couple of minutes.” she calmly replies. For the record, Molly is an ER nurse and sees this sort of thing everyday and somehow manages not to throw up. She is quite strong as well as beautiful; five feet four inches of pure resilience. I happily tell her that in two more days I will be home and we will have an entire week together before I head off to Florida for another contract. This is the first time we have been apart for any length of time and are looking forward to taking off and spending Easter week at her family farm in upstate New York. Hearing sirens in the background, she tells me she loves me and quickly hangs up. This is her normal day; full of blood, illness, stress and even death. I finish my smoke and wonder how she does it. Wandering back inside, I notice Josh (the bartender and all around good guy) has filled my wine glass and I sit down to finish my last night of drinking with the guys.

This contract started three weeks ago and has been one of the most horrific I have ever worked. This place is a living breathing nightmare; but it paid very, very well. I finish up the night and began walking back to the room I rented (and the restaurant paid for) to shower and get some sleep before my first day off in twenty one days. Twenty one days, fourteen hours a day-I’m beat and worn out. After my shower I hit my bed and fell into a deep trance like sleep. The first good sleep in almost a month.

The next day is a blur to me as I do my laundry, finish my packing, deposit my (large) check, tie up loose ends at the restaurant and hop into a cab to go meet some good friends for dinner and drinks at their place. After spending the night on the most comfortable sofa in the Washington D.C. metro area, I drag myself into the shuttle and head for the airport. In three hours I will be in New York City; I will be home.

After checking in and getting scanned by the wand (it’s the damn boots), I find my gate, find the bar and order a vodka tonic; the official preflight drink. While relaxing and reading the paper, I notice my phone has a text message. Molly has written to tell me she will pick me up at the airport instead of having me take a cab, as originally planned. I call her and she explains that she traded a day turn with another nurse in order to run some errands and pick me up. After this, we will have a quick take out dinner and relax before she goes and works the night shift. I thank her, tell her I love her and get ready to board. The plane takes off and lands without a glitch. I make my way out of the concourse and head for baggage claim. Everything seems well and in order.

I’m waiting for my bag when this cute girl excitedly runs up and throws her arms around me. It startled me and I pushed her back. Molly got a haircut; and she didn’t tell me. The expression on her face said it all; I did not recognize her. Oops. It is only fair that I get a chance to tell my side of the story.

When I left, Molly’s shiny black hair was almost shoulder length, straight and came to an upward twist on either side, when it was not in a ponytail (which was rare). Now it was short (cut even with the ears), shaved in the back, curly from the permanent and had an upside down comma hanging off to the side of her forehead. I had not seen her in three weeks and was not expecting this. She could have given me fair warning.

Realizing who it was (after a few short seconds) I stared and my mouth hung open. She fidgeted and nervously asked, “Do you like it?” I hugged her and whispered, “You look so stinking cute. I love it.” She kissed me and excitedly told me why she did it. Apparently, after working a few hours overtime the other day, her and another nurse decided to get some breakfast at the diner across from the hospital. While drinking coffee, Molly fixed her ponytail and complained that it was getting in the way. The other nurse (Jeanne) suggested they both get their hair done after breakfast. “I have an appointment at nine this morning. I’ll call and see if they can squeeze you in.” Jeanne said. “You’re in luck. They can fit you in at 9:15.” And just like that. No questions or second guesses. Go and do it. I have known Molly now for ten months and she runs on wild impulse; a complete contrast to my calculating methodical ways. I guess opposites do attract.

On the way over to the salon, Molly decided to get her cut short (she succeeded) and wanted something, that was, as she puts it- “manageable, but cute.” She explained this to the stylist who helped and guided her through some pictures before she decided on which style to try. The decision was made; her hair was washed and began to drop all around her on the floor. She said she almost died when she felt the clippers shaving her neck. When the stylist finished and spun the chair around to the mirror, Molly told me she almost fainted. “I held my hands to my hair and sat there, like I was in a coma. I could not believe how different I looked” she said. “I almost cried.”

The stylist caught on to this and said that this is what she had chosen. Molly quickly explained that she loved it but was just in shock as her hair was never short. In every picture I have ever seen; all through grade school, high school and college, the style and length were slightly varied, but never short. Jeanne immediately took a picture with her cell phone and said she looked really cute. Molly told me,” When I got home, I stared at myself in the mirror, would walk away, then come back and stare some more. I still can’t believe I did this.”

On the ride from the airport, stuck in the ever present traffic, I kept staring and playing with her freshly shaved neck. She wiggled and said, “You’re giving me goose bumps. Stop it.” I could not keep my hands to myself. Three weeks apart will do that to you I guess. Honestly, I loved her hair and had a hard time remembering what it used to look like. She was even more beautiful than before. I wonder what her parents will say.

We arrived today at the farm and everyone was just as surprised and happy about Molly’s new look as I was. Her mom got all excited and kept feeling the back of her neck while her little nephew played with the upside down comma. Her dad laughed and kept asking what happened to his daughter. Like I said; everyone loved the new look. It should be a good week.

Molly is taking a before dinner nap and I am about to finish up here, have another drink and spend a wonderful Easter week relaxing with her family. Before she fell asleep, I asked her why she decided not to tell me.”Look.” I said. “It is your hair and I have no say in what you do with it, but I’m curious as to why you kept it a secret?” She smiled, wrinkled up her nose and said,”Surprise.”

Nov 12th, 2015 | Posted in Art
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