Jason slammed the razor down on the sink. “Why are you putting this pressure on me?”
“Just give me a chance. Come on, there’s a place for me in your life,” the words flowed from Five O’Clock Shadow’s neatly framed mouth.
“But it’s my choice,” Jason pleaded with the form in the mirror.
The handsome, stubbled likeness moved closer. “I can often signal a period of transition in a person’s life. A change, a bold new look,” it explained.
Jason didn’t respond but traced the contour of his jaw with his fingertips, the smoothness now buried under a thin layer of bristle.
“Just look at me,” Five O’Clock Shadow continued, adjusting its bowtie and smoothing down its tuxedo, “I can assure you it’s no longer just dashing celebs rocking finely groomed stubble on the red carpet. The look has become quite trendy amongst everyday folks like yourself.”
It gently squeezed Jason’s shoulder. “Clean-shaven just doesn’t cut it these days, so to speak,” it chuckled.
“I’ve always preferred the clean-shaven look. I don’t care what’s trendy,” Jason asserted. “Now, if you don’t mind.” He grabbed the bottle of shaving cream.
“May I interject here,” another figure stepped out from behind the shower curtain.
“You stay out of this, Goatee,” Five O’Clock Shadow jeered.
Goatee ignored the scorn and adjusted its shades and trilby, “what do you think, Jason, doesn’t this look goddamn right?”
“Calm down, Walter White,” Five O’Clock Shadow quipped. “He’s definitely not ready for you.”
Jason rolled his eyes and turned back to the mirror. He lathered up his face as they squabbled.
“Quit your fighting, boys,” a fully bearded figure in a tweed suit appeared. “I’d like to have my say.”
“You look like my dad,” Jason laughed.
“Exactly, come back in about twenty years,” Five O’Clock Shadow scoffed. “Anyway, I was here first so all of you beat it.”
“Am I too late then?” a fourth figure enquired.
“I’m definitely not growing a moustache,” Jason blurted out at the new arrival. He surveyed the crowded bathroom and shook his head. “This is ridiculous.” He grabbed the razor.
“But wait, I’m really adaptable. I can do handlebar, horseshoe, pencil, or just good old Tom Selleck,” Moustache proposed.
“Come on, Jason,” Five O’Clock Shadow approached him cautiously, “you can try something new, see how it goes.”
“I said no,” Jason snapped and made the first stroke with the razor. The figures gasped in unison and inched forward, babbling all at once. As they closed in on him their pleas grew louder and louder. Jason’s hand shook, he tried to ignore their protests and quickened each swipe. His smooth skin started to surface and they all gradually faded from view.
He finished and patted his skin dry with a towel. He sighed and studied the fresh face laid bare in front of him. He was relieved to see himself again. To see only his face, just as he liked it. “There I am. It’s just you and me now, buddy.”
Rosie Arcane is from Edinburgh. She works in admin however writes poetry and short stories in her spare time. She started submitting her work recently and won the Writers’ Forum monthly poetry competition (June issue). Rosie is busy with submissions and hopes to have more work published.
Illustration by Robin Livesey – instagram.com/robinlivesey