The next day, when Pepper went to Sal's house, she found him sitting on the stairs, his face soaked in tears. She felt her heart sinking and hurried by his side.
- What happened, Sal? What's wrong? she asked gently.
With a big effort, he answered:
- You know how we start school next week...
- Because of that... I have to... I have to cut my hair...
A new wave of tears drowned his faint voice. Then, in an act of courage and desperation that felt like bringing to life his worst nightmare, he finally dared to put into words the reality of the situation:
- Oh, Pepper, I can't have long hair anymore!... he cried.
Pepper felt all his pain like it was pressing on her own chest, to the point she almost couldn't breathe. She had to be strong though, so she bravely kept her voice from breaking when she said:
- It's gonna be ok, Sal, you'll see. Please, please don't cry... I'm sure we'll find something, we will...
She hug him with all her might while holding his small hand tightly, like she was afraid he might slip into some faraway place and never find his way back.