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Carys and her family shave their heads in support of her grandmother, who has cancer.

Bzzzzzzzzzzz. The clipper buzzed through my brother Noah’s hair. It was a blazing hot summer day, and I was at my grandma’s house. We were outside on the patio. I shook my legs and tapped my toes nervously on the creaky wooden floor. My grandma had lung cancer, and her hair was falling out. She had been sick for a long time, but recently, we had all decided that our whole family would shave our heads. It was a rare thing for girls to do, so it was a hard decision for my mom and me. Just a few days ago, my mom and I agreed that we would do it too. I watched sadly as my brother’s hair slowly fell to the floor. My fluffy, cute dog, Bingsoo, sniffed the hair and scurried around.

“You’re done, Noah. You can come now, Carys,” my dad said calmly, wiping his forehead with his shirt. Noah hopped off the chair and went to go to the shower. My heart beat loudly. I had so many questions. What would I look like? Would other people like it? Would I like it? I had easily agreed before, but now, looking at all the sharp tools my dad had and realizing how hard it would actually be, I felt scared. There were butterflies flying around in my stomach, and I felt worried.

I gulped and took a wobbly step onto the wooden floor. I stepped over piles of hair and took a deep breath. My legs felt like Jell-O, and my hands were clenched and sweaty. My heart pounded in my chest, and my teeth were gritted. I slowly advanced across the floor and carefully sat on the chair, my heart beating fast and loud. I was dripping with sweat. From the heat—but mostly because of my nervousness. My mom took a picture of me, and I tried my best to smile.

“You ready, Carys?” my dad asked. I took a shaky breath. Bingsoo whined and pawed at the seat. I gave her a little scratch behind the ear. I need to do this, I thought. I looked at my grandma. Okay. I CAN do this, I thought, clenching my sweaty hands. My throat felt dry, and so did my lips.

“O-okay,” I said bravely. I heard a click, and I expected to hear buzzing, but then suddenly . . .


“Aaaah!!” I exclaimed, surprised. “My braids!” I said, feeling the top of my hair. Yup. They were gone! My dad handed me my braids. My family was all smiling. Why were they smiling? They were so calm, while I was having the scariest moment of my life! My heart beat fast. My mom brought a mirror for me to see myself. I was almost too scared to look at it. My hand trembled, and my toes twitched. I grabbed the mirror’s handle weakly, and I held it facedown. I looked at my mom and dad. They both looked happy. I felt reassured, and I turned the mirror around, ready to see how horrible I would look. I held it up to my face, and my eyes went wide. I looked . . . I actually looked . . . funny! I started laughing, and my mom snapped another picture. My dad continued buzzing my hair off. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The clipper buzzed and buzzed and buzzed. It sounded like one million bees buzzing at the same time. The smell of sweat filled the patio.

Golden Muse and Sun Flowers
Golden Muse and Sun Flowers

I looked at the calm reflection of the swimming pool water. It looked peaceful. I focused my vision on the small waves in the water. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Hair fell to the floor and piled up on my shoulders and my shirt. I felt the itchiness of the hair on me. I shifted in the chair, trying to shake some of the itchy hair off.

“Stay still, Carys,” my dad warned. I kept as still as I could. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The buzzing sound broke through the air. My stomach grumbled. Bingsoo sniffed more hair and occasionally took a nibble. The sky was pale blue and with streaks of white clouds. It was late afternoon and the sun was shining in the sky. I fiddled with my fingers and made shapes with the clouds. Oh, that one’s a rabbit. Now a bird . . . I thought. I zoned off for what seemed like forever until, “Carys! You’re done!” my dad exclaimed. I looked up and saw myself in the mirror.

“Wow! I look . . .” I felt my head. It felt spiky, yet furry. My body was trembling, and my heart swelled with pride. I did it. I had actually done it. I had done this all for my grandma. The buzzing sound echoed in my head. I remembered the time . . . which was only a few hours ago, my nervousness and when my braids . . . snap! Right off my head. This was a day I will never, ever, forget in my entire life. I felt a new kind of strength, for my grandma, my family, and most of all . . . myself.