Valerie scrubbed down every surface at her station, picking up bottles and tubes of products to reach underneath everything and going up the mirror that displayed a mystery splatter. She wiped off and disinfected all her combs and her shears, along with every other tool she used that day, ensuring it was all in tip top shape for the next day. She swept and mopped the floor surrounding her chair first, then, out of the kindness of her heart, she moved through the rest of the room with the broom and mop. She rinsed all the colors bowls and brushes, then set them on the drainer by the sink. She wiped the chair and sink in the shampoo station with the appropriate cleaning solution, then repeated at her own station chair.
“There!” She placed both hands on her hips and sighed with relief to have her chores for the day finished. Looking from her area to the other stations, she felt proud of the extra work she put into her cleaning process at the end of every day. It showed when you compared her station to anyone else’s. Satisfied that everything was thoroughly done, Valerie rushed to the break room to give her feet a rest before she walked home.
She lived so close to the salon, it wasn’t out of the question to walk there and back, but she preferred to limit that to the shorter work days, or days with good weather. She had sorely misjudged how long she was going to work today, but at least she wore reasonable shoes, so walking home tonight wouldn’t be the worst part of her day.
As she pulled each shoe off to give her feet a quick rub before their marathon, Valerie thought about the appointment that had held her back for so much longer. People always underestimated how long it took to achieve blonde hair. Always. Of course, her guest hadn’t left with blonde hair, because that’s not how it works, but they had started the enormous process to get there, and Valerie was thrilled with their results after one session.
“Ahh, that’s better,” she smiled as her feet loosened up. She leaned back into the chair to enjoy herself for one more minute, then she’d head home, where the food and beer waited for her.
She slipped her shoes back on comfortably and mentally prepared for their impending disapproval. They weren’t going to like the walk home, but they didn’t have a choice.
Valerie grabbed her light jacket and purse, hastily searching for her keys, then draped them over her shoulders. As she walked to the front door, she flipped through the keys on her ring for the shop key. Before she started cleaning, she double checked the other two doors at the back of the salon were locked, leaving just the front door.
She passed through the door, shutting and locking it behind her effortlessly. The night was dark and cool, refreshing after her long, exhausting day. Only her feet would complain about the short, pleasant walk home, but as long as she kept walking and didn’t pause too often, she’d be fine.
It took roughly 10 minutes for Valerie to walk about three blocks away, but it was then that she remembered the important thing she had forgotten.
“Damnit!” she whispered to herself. She had promised Morgan the laundry would be done before she left. Normally, Valerie might shrug it off, knowing she could run in early tomorrow morning to do it, but she didn’t work tomorrow. Nobody, it was a holiday. The problem was all the wet laundry sitting in the washer for over two days, getting moldy and smelling. Tonight was the latest it could be done. The salon had been so busy they used every single towel and cape, so there would be nothing but dirty, moldy towels when everyone came back from the holiday.
Valerie had to turn around. Her feet were angry, and with every step they grew more and more livid, but she didn’t have a choice. She hung her head, frustrated and pissed, but her body moved back to the salon regardless.
She was so absorbed in beating herself up for getting three blocks away before she remembered her laundry, that the walk back breezed by. Standing in front of the main door, Valerie dug through her purse again, feeling for the keys. She found them and slid them into the lock robotically. She guessed she had been so quiet whoever was inside making the giant ruckus didn’t hear her enter.
Slapping sounds and giggles floated out the salon toward Valerie’s spot in the entryway.
“Oh no. No.” Her eyes enlarged. If walking back to the salon was frustrating, the thing she thought she heard happening was off the charts. Dropping her purse at her feet and ignoring all the physical pain of her long day and walking almost home, she ran to the light switch to see what it was. With light flooding the salon, Valerie’s fears were confirmed.
Two ghostly figures held the trash bin upside down in the middle of the room. They froze when the lights went on, but the damage was done. Garbage littered the entire floor, sloppy and wet globs in a pile with loose hair and paper skimming across the floor away from the pile. The ghosts dropped the trash bin with a loud clang, then hunched over apologetically. Valerie shook her head and raised both hands.
“What the hell? Why?” she asked, knowing she’d get no response from them. Both ghosts smiled, laughed, then disappeared into the floor, back into their hiding places. Valerie wanted to cry as she looked around the salon at the disaster her resident ghosts had left for her. They were mischievous, there was no doubt of that, but they didn’t typically make such a terrible mess. Perhaps they overheard Morgan mentioning earlier that nobody would be in the salon for an extra day, and they didn’t want to waste their opportunity to wreak havoc.
Scanning the room, Valerie saw, in addition to the trash on the floor, the sinks were coated in what might be conditioner, hand prints decorated every mirror, somewhere a faucet was running, a tube of blue color had been used to paint a large circle on a white wall, and every can and bottle of product was flipped onto its top. Some things were just irritating, but she knew she would be spending her whole night cleaning the mess.
“Damn ghosts! You’d better hide!” she shouted in no direction, hoping they heard her. She sighed. Closing the front door behind her and removing her shoes, she buckled up for a long night of starting her cleaning process all over again.