A Close Shave – Tim Jamieson

William Manford admired his magnificent beard in the bathroom mirror. He smiled and tilted his head up to check the shape. It was perfect in every way. Thick and full and the colour of autumn. The competition was today and he had a great feeling he was going to win this time. Last year he came second at the International Battle of the Beards. He’d been eating well, used three different kinds of conditioner and trimmed and oiled every morning. He let his towel drop to the floor, stepped into the shower and turned on the heat.

He picked up his wife’s facial cleanser he’d tried a few weeks ago on a whim, it was doing wonders for his complexion. He squeezed out a small amount into his palm and began to rub it absentmindedly over his nose, cheeks and forehead. His hands wandered down to his beard. He scratched an itch on his chin and pulled away a large clump of hair. It took his mind a few seconds to compute what he was holding. His eyes snapped to the tube he’d picked up: Lucky Lucy’s Hair Removal Cream for sensitive skin. The panic was very real. He thought about throwing himself out of the open window but he decided in a lucid moment that may be a bit too extreme. He lunged out of the shower pulling the curtain along with him.

He splashed water on his face from the sink and rubbed his beard with a towel. He stared in the mirror and screamed with horror at the bare patch of skin on his chin. He sat down on the toilet seat and started to sob. He hadn’t been clean-shaven since he was twelve. They used to call him Will the Werewolf at school on account of his outrageously early hair growth; he could easily pass for twenty one when he was sixteen and used to buy the other kids beers and smokes. He had numerous awards and accolades for his beard. He was in adverts and on products. He’d been the face of Lumberjack Magazine’s June issue for God’s sake. At least his wife would probably be happy and tell him he looked ten years younger, he thought.

He decided there was no use putting it off. He stood, picked up his razor and steeled himself to look in the mirror again. He almost burst into tears when he caught sight of his face. He slowly lathered up and hesitated for a long time before finally putting the razor to his skin.

Suddenly he straightened up and clenched his fists. It dawned on him what he should do. He finished his shave and patted down his face with the towel and admired his handiwork. He wouldn’t be winning first prize for his beard this year, but he sure as hell was going to give the others a run for their money in the Mighty Moustache category. He smiled and picked up his beard wax.

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