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I'd known him for at least a month before I noticed that his hair was the same color as my mother's. Most days, he had it bound back, a shoulder-length clump of dark blond curls that bleached straw-gold in the sun. Some days he wore it loose, never brushed to hide the receeding hairline. I saw him from behind one day with his hair loose, and for one moment, I saw my mother. His hair always made me smile, after that.

He came to school with it cut one day, and complained bitterly that he'd been given no peace until he agreed to cut it. I patted his shoulder and told him it would grow back. That cut flattered him, after one got used to his missing mane -- little curls, lamb or lion. He came to school a few days later with the Business Clone Cut. It hadn't been short enough the first time. He brushed off my commiseration, saying the only reason he'd kept it long was because haircuts were such a bother.

He looked just like anyone else with that haircut. What hair he had left was a lifeless, neutral brown, and there wasn't enough left to curl. the bald patches at his temples looked bigger.

Millimeter by millimeter, it grew back. The exposed layers started to glint gold, and it was forever getting in his face. He didn't cut it.

I gave him a package of hair elastics for Valentine's Day that year.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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