“Regain”

Short Fic by Liam Slade / Originally Published Jan 2, 2021

When Leo was younger, he had a great head of hair. The girls loved it, said it reminded them of the sexiest boyband members. He would spend all morning styling it and snap at you if you came close to mussing it.

Times changed though. He had grown up, gotten a job, gotten married… gotten older. There was no time for that kind of vanity. There was too much to do. But sometimes he would flip through old pictures and say “Man, did I look great back then.”

Then one day, he looked in the mirror and realized… it was starting to go.

It must have taken him a while to realize, but his hairline was starting to push back. He went to his wife Megan and asked, “Honey… does my hair look okay?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it sweetie,” she said. “I love you no matter what.”

This did not satisfy Leo. It had been many years since he was the guy who constantly fixed every stray strand in his car mirror, but he still thought of himself that way.

He couldn’t help but fret about it. How bad was it getting? Using his wife’s hand mirror with the bathroom vanity, he realized – a pretty significant bald spot was opening up in the back of his scalp.

Leo gulped.

He thought about giving in, and shaving it all off. Lots of older guys looked distinguished that way. But he wasn’t ready. He still wanted to be the man he was then.

He rushed out and bought a bottle of Regain – the treatment you’re supposed to use “at the first sign of fallout.” It wouldn’t regrow his hair, but it would help him keep what he had.

He used it for a few days and noticed no change. It was hard to tell whether the fallout had truly stopped, or if he was just kidding himself, but he had nothing to lose by trying. Every day for weeks, he washed with more and more regain, fighting the battle against hair loss.

Then one day he was in the middle of a shower and he realized… he was out. Not a drop left in the bottle.

He made a note to go buy a fresh bottle that day, but in the meantime, he needed to wash his hair. The only other shampoo available was his wife’s – Mango Citrus Essence Shampoo and Body Wash. Thinking nothing of it, he squirted some into his hand and lathered up, and washed.

He didn’t think it would feel any different, but it did make his scalp tingle – in a way that wasn’t entirely bad. It smelled a little girly but it reminded him of his wife.

All through the day at work, people were nice to him, smiling at him, acknowledging him. Something seemed to be up. He tried to shrug it off, but he couldn’t deny it felt nice – especially the knowing wink that Kat, the young blonde intern, seemed to give him.

It was only when he got home that his wife said to him – “Babe. Your hair looks good today.”

“Does it?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “I don’t know what it is…”

“Well,” he blushed, “I used your shampoo.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, did you?”

“Yeah. My bottle was empty. I picked some up on the way home though.”

“Wait a second,” she said. “Turn around.”

“What?”

“Let me look.”

Leo turned his back to his wife. She stood on her tiptoes to see the back of his head. He could feel her brushing through his hair with her fingers.

“What’s going on?”

“Baby,” she said, “Your hair’s growing back in.”

“What?” he asked. “I don’t think so, that’s not supposed to happen.”

“I’m telling you!” she cheered. “I’ve been looking at that bald spot for months. It’s gone. Your hair has grown back in.”

Leo put his hand to the back of his head. Sure enough, the hole in his hair was patched up.

“Regain isn’t supposed to grow any of your hair back.”

“Maybe it’s my shampoo,” she said. “You know, it’s supposed to promote thicker, fuller hair.”

Leo thought about it. It didn’t seem to make sense that using his wife’s shampoo would have such an effect – especially not in a single day. Besides, he didn’t mind smelling like a fruit salad for a day, but it wasn’t like he was going to start using it full time.

The next day, he switched back to Regain. And for another few days he went on as normal, until one day he was helping with the dishes and Megan came up behind him.

“Hm,” she said. “I hate to tell you this sweetie but… you’re thinning again.”

“What?” he asked, dropping the pan in the sink. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” she said, trying to sound delicate, “Your little bald spot is back.”

Leo pulled his rubber glove off and felt the back of his head. Sure enough, bare scalp.

“Aw, no,” he groaned.

“It might even be… a little bigger than before,” Megan winced. “It’s hard to tell.”

Leo kept up as good of a front as possible, trying not to let his reaction show, but he sulked up to bed that night. He was disappointed that the hair he had gained – or thought he had gained – wasn’t being kept by the Regain.

The next morning in the shower, he bypassed his shampoo bottle for his wife’s. He opened it and took a long sniff – that beautiful aroma of fruit essences that he associated with her.

Well, he thought. What could it hurt?

As soon as he stepped out and toweled off, he checked his scalp, perhaps overly eager to see results. Like magic, that bald spot was patched up again, covered in a thick, light brown hair that matched the rest of his scalp.

“Amazing,” he said. It was like he had unlocked one of life’s great secrets.

Day after day, he used more and more. He even bought his own bottle. The bald spot never faded again, and the front of his hairline started to advance further toward the front of his scalp. It was like he was a young man again.

Then something crazy started to happen.

It continued to grow.

By the end of every week or so, it would reach past his ears – far longer than the manageable, model-like crop he liked to work with. He would report to the barber chair, pay his $20, then find himself back there only a week later.

It was a strange balance to be striking. His hair was full, but it wasn’t the same as before. It was thick, but not coarse. It was becoming wavy and… almost feminine. He kept trying to keep it short so that no visible change was apparent to his co-workers but it was a hard battle to keep fighting. Still, he was not willing to give up his miracle cure.

Then one day, he found himself in the shower, lathering up, and realizing what he was doing was a little redundant. The shampoo was also a body wash. Why not just spread it all over his body?

Into his hand, he poured a glob of shampoo and rinsed it through his hair. Next he poured a separate one and started to spread it all over his torso. It made his skin tingle as the vitamin-infused aroma made its way to his nostrils. There was something very delightful about it.

He scrubbed and scrubbed, and felt a rough layer of skin start to free up and wash off of him like dirt, leaving a soft, delicate layer beneath. But he barely noticed. He felt too good, too rejuvenated.

He didn’t even notice that the water and body wash was taking the hair from his chest and arms with it. He only knew that he was feeling cleaner and fresher than he had in his entire life. It was like being reborn.

As he turned his attention to his head and started to massage his scalp, he felt his hair growing even fuller and thicker between his fingers. It was like it was suddenly twice as long. Three times. Enough to tie into a ponytail, soaking up water behind him.

“What the–?” he asked as he let it fall over his shoulder in a sopping mess.

He wiped the suds away from his eyes and looked down.

His body had changed. His nipples were wide and sticking straight out. His hard, flat chest had softened. He lifted a hand to his chest and felt underneath it – a breast! A perfect little teardrop shaped breast.

Immediately, he turned the shower off and stepped out. Wiping the steam away from the mirror, he saw a face that was like his own, but not quite. It was feminine, dainty… pretty. With a petite nose and soft lips.

He put his hand to his slender neck and gasped.

He looked down – his hips had widened, his bum filled out. And between his legs, only a flat patch.

Where had it gone? How had he missed it?

His long brown hair was dropping wet. He grabbed a spare towel and wrapped it up in a turban, then drew a larger towel around his body, cinching it around his new, slight breasts.

How had he known to do that?

Drying his feet, his heart beat faster. He reached for the knob of the bathroom door.

On the other side, his wife was still in bed.

What was he going to say?

He entered, and approached the bed. Megan must have sensed his presence.

“Morning babe,” she said sleepily. “Did you have a good shower?”

She opened her eyes and looked up. And he looked down at her.

The only thing Leah could think to say was, “Yeah, it was vey refreshing.”

Megan smiled. “I’m glad.” She leaned in for a kiss.

When their lips parted, Megan asked, “Are you okay? You look a little…dazed.”

“Yeah, I…” Leah started to say, but couldn’t think of a thing. It was like something had just flown right out of her mind. “I must have lost it. Maybe it will come back to me.”

She dropped the towel to the ground and went to the dresser. She pulled out a clean pair of underwear.

“Oh, I think I remember,” she said. “I think we’re running low on shampoo.”

Copyright 2021 Liam Slade, all rights reserved. To be reprinted only with permission of the author.