OK, here is my offering for the flash fiction piece on the topic ‘Hairdressing’.

Touch

They tell me their darkest secrets. It’s because I touch them. No one touches them anymore, they are too old, too crinkled. Combing, smoothing, stroking. I am their confidant. Take Iris here. Bimonthly perm, weekly set. Her back is so hunched she has to stand up and lean forward to be rinsed. She takes my hand when I hold up the mirror. ‘You’re a good boy, Kyle,’ she says.

In fact, I’m not.

Iris has no family. She’s perfect for me. I give her discount; even the rich ones like a bargain. Especially the rich ones. And they’re the only ones I bother with.

I hang on in there, week after week. The chemicals dry out my skin; the conversation bores me so much I have to fix a smile on my face and stop my nimble hands from slipping to their scrawny necks. I wait. Eventually it happens – it always happens, and I’m off to the next home fast. Before the will is read. Before anyone can get suspicious. Iris will be my third. Thanks to Mavis and Violet, I might have a long holiday after Iris. Work on my tan.

‘Hi there, Iris,’ I call as I stroll in, pulling my bag behind me. Iris is smiling, but not at me. George is sitting next to her, holding her hand. I never saw that one coming. It’s the touch, you see. Nobody touches them any more. They are just so grateful, they’ll do anything for touch.

Lucky George.

I’m not bitter, but Iris gets minimal attention today. I wave at an orderly who is wheeling in a new resident. ‘Let me,’ I say. ‘I’ll show her the ropes.’ Dripping in gold, as wrinkled as an elephant, the woman repulses me in every way. Except one.

‘And who’s this lovely lady?’ I give her my best grin and take her hand in mine.

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