Saturday, 27 April 2013

Klein at the Hairdressers

A fan fiction about Big Finish character, Elizabeth Klein. In my review of UNIT Dominion, I suggested that we need to see more of Klein's ordinary life and suggested we should have a scene where she is in a hairdressing salon. Well I decided to write one!

If she could, Klein might have spent her entire life inside the UNIT laboratory. Not so much because she enjoyed her work, but simply because it tended to occupy most of her thoughts. Nevertheless, there were certain things that you could not do in a laboratory and one of those was getting your hair trimmed. The UNIT HQ being a top secret facility, she could hardly arrange for an hairdresser to visit.

Thus Klein was forced to make occasional visits to the salon in order to keep her helmet-shaped hair in trim. The UNIT scientific adviser had worn her hair in this style for the last twenty years. It was neat and practical. The thought of growing her hair longer or cutting it shorter had not once crossed Klein's mind in the past twenty years.

Klein sighed as she listened to the inane pop song that was being played on the radio.

"I love Kylie Minogue," said the hairdresser, a pretty blond girl of about eighteen years. "I cried my eyes out when she left Neighbours. I wish she and Jason got married in real life."

Klein had never watched Neighbours and had no idea who Jason was.

"I wish I lived in Australia," said the hairdresser.

"I can't say I find it very appealing," replied Klein. Australia sounded like a dreadful place to Klein, a desert land of soap operas, with no culture whatsoever.

"What do you do for a living?" asked the girl.

Klein sighed again. That was the tiresome thing about going to the salon. The hairdressers always assumed you wanted to chat and chat away. Klein's purposes in being there was simply to have her hair trimmed and nothing more. Conversation was irrelevant.

"I'm a scientist," answered Klein.

That was all she could say. As a member of UNIT, Klein had signed the Official Secrets Act. Simply talking for ten minutes about her day to day work would have been enough to land her in prison.

"A scientist!" cried the girl. "I always used to want to be a scientist, but I was never clever enough. Science is so exciting, finding a cure for cancer, inventing time machines and all that."

"I'm afraid my work is not quite so exciting as that," said Klein. She was not altogether sure whether that was a lie or not. She'd never invented a time machine, but she'd studied alien time technology and had met time travellers.

"I used to love watching those old Professor X episodes," said the hairdresser.

"Perhaps you should take some college classes?" suggested Klein.

"Yes, I suppose I could," said the girl.

Klein tried to resist the notion that the girl was fit for no more than styling peoples hair. She reminded herself that the girl could become an astrophysicist with just a little direction. Possibly. Or possibly not.

"What's your name?" asked Klein.

"I'm Debbie," she replied.

Klein could at that point have said "You can call me Elizabeth." However, she generally preferred to be addressed as Dr. Klein by anybody who she had not known for at least ten years. Besides, when people addressed her by her first name, they always ended up calling her Liz. Klein hated few thing more than being called Liz.

"Do you have any grandchildren?" asked Debbie.

Klein's eyes widened in shock at the question.

"Do I really look that old?" she asked.

Debbie went bright red.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to say you looked old. I just wondered if you did. My mother's in her forties and has four grandchildren already..."

When you are in a hole, stop digging. Young people had no manners these days.

"I'm afraid I never had any children, Debbie. I suppose I was always too busy with my work to have a family," said Klein.

"Oh, that's a shame," said Debbie.

Klein frowned at the impertinence.

It had always been difficult for women to get anywhere in the scientific community when they married and had children. Klein had seen dozens of her female colleagues forced to give up high flying careers and fascinating research projects when they married. It seemed such a waste. She had been so glad never to have been in such a position.

But had she lost anything never having children? As she sat in the salon chair, Klein tried to imagine her life with a bunch of children running around. No doubt they would be studious, disciplined and obedient. She tried to run the thought through her mind, but it left her cold. She simply could not generate any excitement at the idea.

What was a husband and children when you could study extraterrestrial life and save the planet from alien invaders?

Debbie switched off the hairdryer.

Klein looked at herself in the mirror. She found herself looking at a woman who was getting old. A woman who had made her choices, choices that could not be undone. But she saw a woman who was proud and confident. A woman who had seen incredible things and done incredible things.

She saw her blonde helmet-shaped hair looking as neat as ever.

"Very efficient work, Debbie," said Klein.

"Thanks, Dr. Klein!"

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