When ear noodles, which required a 3D-space around and above the helix, became all the fashion, young girls started “stacking” or elongating the ear stem gradually, using string or thread. Because they wanted to hide this dangerous, somewhat deforming practice from parents and teachers, the T-bob became popular, and not just among the ear-stackers.
This presented Mimosa with an ethical problem. She was raised in a strict, Platonic (in the modern, 22nd century sense of the word, not the classical) household, where she learned rules and laws were made out of love, and disobedience caused heartbreak to those in power. She remembered the agonizing, aching remorse when her father concealed his etching income from the government. She remembered the tears of her parents when she refused to tell them what Grandpa said. Yes, she was to be obedient to Grandpa too, but her first allegiance was to her parents. Well, her second allegiance, really.
In any case, the fourteen-year old girl who sat staring at herself in the wall to wall mirror, her back to Mimosa, her hair long, thick, and curly, said, “A T-bob, please.” Mimosa ran her fingers through the girl’s hair. It was softer than it looked. She brushed it away from her face. There was a bandage around the left ear stem.
Not meaning to speak, Mimosa still said, “Oh dear.”
The girl, whose name was Lucy, looked sharply at Mimosa. She saw a short, pale, rather pudgy woman in her early twenties, who, like many hairdressers, had over-processed hair which desperately needed a trim; in this case, ash blonde in colour.
“I have to ask,” said Mimosa. “Do your parents know you are stacking?”
Lucy lowered her head, and Mimosa did not see the eye-roll. “Yes she does,” said Lucy, looking up again. “She says it’s up to me. When she was my age she got a blood tattoo, you know, right?” Mimosa hoped that tattoo was not readily visible. People wouldn’t hire you, not even for a grade C job, if you had a blood tattoo. The Plato Group had banned them, out of love and concern for the physical and mental health of the people.
“Well, this is permanent too,” Mimosa said, trying to avoid the tone and cadence of her mother’s voice, but failing. She heard her mother speak, as clearly as if she was inhabiting Mimosa’s body. “And Plato doesn’t want you to do it.”
Lucy said something about Plato that Mimosa stridently refused to hear, lest she had to report the girl. Then silence.
“Will you report me?” Lucy said suddenly. She looked around, she looked above the entrance door, where the recorders were usually placed. No one tried to hide them: What would be the point?
She looked at Mimosa, behind her, in the mirror. Even from a few feet away, Mimosa could see chocolate-coloured flecks in Lucy’s hazel eyes. They were pretty, and unusual. All around the hazel and chocolate there was white. Her own eyes were grey, like her mother’s, like her Grandpa’s eyes.
The room felt cold, and at that moment Jared, her business partner, burst into the shop, his lunch break over. “Hey Mim. And Lucy, isn’t it? I made the appointment. I’m Jared.”
Lucy did not look at him or smile. Jared paused, then went to the back lounge for a minute. Mimosa was still and quiet, her hands on the back of Lucy’s chair.
When Jared reappeared he strode to where the two young women were frozen in place.
“T-bob, Lucy? It would look fab. Mim, I’ll do it!”
“No,” said Mimosa. She put a large, clean white towel around Lucy’s shoulders, and picked up the brush again. “I will.”