"Phew!" Simon exclaimed. "This is why you're getting a haircut. I feel like I just got a workout towel drying all of this hair," the middle-aged man complained while lifting Jacob in his arms.
Once they made it to the nursery, Simon made sure to quickly diaper and dress Jacob. At this point, he was extremely adept at the daily chore, and Jacob was learning the rhythm, knowing when to lift his arms and point his legs.
"We're going to make a quick stop to my bathroom for the clippers," Simon said, causing Jacob's curiosity to spark. He hadn't ever seen their bathroom.
Once they were through the door, Jacob immediately noticed that it was much larger than the one near the nursery. Their bathroom was equipped with a double basin vanity. Two small mirrors decorated the wall perpendicular to the sink, and the entire master bathroom was furnished with a white and light gray theme. The shower was encased in clear glass, and the bathtub sat on top of a higher ledge with brick steps leading up to it.
Simon placed Jacob on the counter while he rummaged through a drawer in the vanity.
It was extremely clean in their bathroom, and Jacob thought it was almost too clean, as if the therapists had nothing else to occupy their time with other than playing house. He suspected that boredom had to play some role in why they decided to have him regressed, but he wasn't going to air his observation. He knew better at that point.
"Got it!" Simon exclaimed, holding the pair of clippers in his hand.
"Congrats," Jacob said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"Alright. Let's get this show on the road," Simon enthused, lifting Jacob onto his hip with his free arm.
When they made it down the stairs, Simon stooped down to stand Jacob on the living room floor.
"Simon? Will you cut his hair on the porch?" Angelique asked, poking her head out from the kitchen.
"Sure," he agreed, grabbing a dining chair and walked it to backdoor. Jacob followed behind him onto the porch.
"I already made a makeshift cape for him," Angelique said, showing off a small garbage bag with a tiny hole cut into the bottom.
As soon as Jacob saw her approaching with the small plastic bag, he was already dreading the experience of putting the contraption on. He was the tiniest bit claustrophobic, and having his head put through such a small space was not something he wanted to do. It reminded him of birthing, and he almost laughed at the irony of that.
Angelique was surprisingly gentle while getting the cape on him. It wasn't nearly the rough experience that Jacob anticipated. He sat still, anxiously awaiting his first haircut from his former therapist.
After testing the clippers to make sure they were working properly, Simon pulled Jacob's Afro into a small ponytail and tied it back with a large rubber band.
"Here we go," he said as he turned the clippers on again.
In one small swipe, he cut the ponytail off, leaving behind a much smaller Afro on the little boy's head. After attaching a small plastic guard to the clippers, he made a few swipes along the boy's scalp, moving from back to front.
The small hairs fell past the front of Jacob's face and onto his lap. He watched them slowly fall through the air in front of him, partially looking forward to the new haircut. Before he was regressed, he had been meaning to get his hair cut, but he was too deep in depression to make time for it.
It was a bit jarring for Jacob how much bigger the clippers felt since he was smaller. A few times when Simon passed the clippers close to his ears, he had to resist the urge to move his head away. Either way, it seemed Simon was prepared for him to fidget a little, guiding his head with his hands to make sure no accidents would happen.
When he finally finished the haircut, Jacob looked like a different toddler. His hair was now a small curly Afro faded along the sides and back of his head. He looked like a child model after getting their haircut for a photoshoot.
"He's so cute!" Angelique gushed, quickly snapping a picture with her cellphone.
"Would you like to see?" Simon asked, handing Jacob his cellphone with the front-facing camera on.
The little boy maneuvered the phone around, looking at his haircut. He liked it, and it certainly made him feel more groomed than he had in a very long time.
"Thanks," he said, looking up to make eye contact with Simon.
"You're welcome, Jacob," he responded, smiling and dusting the hair off of the boy's makeshift cape.
"It's such a nice day," Angelique said, marveling at the scenic backyard.
"It is," Simon agreed, standing next to her along the balcony and wrapping an arm over her shoulders.
"Well, we've been meaning to work on the garden, and Jacob needs to stretch his legs. So, let's take advantage of it," Angelique proposed.
"Are you sure?" Simon asked, looking over at Jacob with a concerned expression.
"He won't run away," she said, pausing and stooping down to be at eye-level with Jacob. "You'll be on your best behavior, won't you?" she asked him.
He thought back on her spanking and the wicked wooden spoon and quickly nodded his head. He had already promised himself that he would never get on her bad side again. She was certainly a force to be reckoned with. Simon he could handle, but not her.
"See Simon. There's nothing to be worried about," she said, pecking her husband on the face and stepping inside to grab a small pair of sandals near the door.
Simon was impressed by how confident Angelique seemed in being capable of handling Jacob. He certainly appeared to acknowledge her authority. Now, he just needed to get the boy to mind him.
After everyone got their shoes on, the trio made their way to the small garden at the side of the house near the shed. It was a small vegetable garden, enclosed with four thin pieces of light-brown wood. Angelique unlocked the shed and reached inside to grab a few cups with shoots ready to be transplanted to the garden.
She turned to Jacob and firmly said, "Now, you are to stay within ten feet of us. Do you understand?"
"Yes," he replied, nodding his head.
Internally, Jacob relished the opportunity to get some fresh air and clear his head. He was beginning to go stir crazy, stuck inside like a lab rat. When the therapists turned their backs to him to dig in the garden, he entertained himself by picking the dandelions sprouting in the yard.
Jacob felt some temptation to run away, but he didn't bother with it. He didn't want to think too hard about escape. It made sense to him to focus on the present and what he wanted in the moment. More than anything else, he needed to chill out. The stress of focusing on nothing but escape for so long had really taken a toll on him. He needed to relax and take a break for a while, and he focused on doing just that.
After he plucked every dandelion within ten feet of the garden, he walked in circles until he was finally tired of standing up. That was when he found a nice patch of grass and laid down on it, looking up at the clouds. The therapists' distant conversation morphed into a hum in the background as he closed his eyes and relaxed.
"Look Simon. I think Jacob's asleep," Angelique said when she looked back and noticed him lying in the grass.
"Well, he sure can sleep anywhere," Simon commented, chuckling.
"Yeah, he can," Angelique agreed, laughing along with him.
"Let's finish up here. That way we can get him inside and get started on dinner," Simon proposed.
"Yup, let's do it," she said, smoothing some dirt with her shovel.
A few moments later when Simon reached down to lift Jacob into his arms, the little boy woke up, unconsciously shifting away from the older man.
"We're going inside now," Simon explained softly.
Jacob only mumbled a response that Simon wasn't able to make out before he rested his head onto the Simon's shoulder and fell back asleep.