Saturday 26 June 2021

'Whiskers' by Timothy Boudreau

 A Norelco electric razor, black plastic, with three floating silver heads. Jacob’s dad disassembled it, set the three heads on a paper towel, lifted each between forefinger and thumb to sweep out the leftover beard trimmings with a tiny brush, gently, lovingly, giving each silver head a final inspection, turning it toward the light, a puff of breath, before restoring them in the razor.
    “Can I try it Dad, please?”
    “You don’t have any whiskers yet Jacob.”
    When Jacob’s mother bought his father a new razor for Christmas—this one had an attachment for nose and ear hair—his dad gave Jacob the old one. “Here, you can save it until you need it,” giving him a look, “shouldn’t be more than a couple years.”

Jacob was nearly eighteen when the first random wispy strands of black sprouted out of his baby-smooth face. When his mom and stepdad were out, he sneaked the Norelco into the bathroom and plugged it in. Its buzz was louder than he expected, but as he passed it from chin to throat to cheek in slow circles the sensation was warm, a comfort. It still smelled like his dad—a combination of soap and aftershave, his dad’s pheromones. Jacob brought it back to his bedroom, and there before his mom and stepdad got home he cleaned it, sitting on his bed with paper towels and the little brush, zipping the razor back in its case before he heard the door swing open and the sickening sound of his stepdad calling to him up the stairs, “Hey Jake I brought your mother back safe and sound!” acting like he owned the place.

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