The razor rises and kisses the skin above your lips. You look in the mirror and see that the spot the razor landed on isn’t quite where you want it to be. You move it a little to the left so it covers that tiny groove below your nose, the middle of the in-between, surely part of an ongoing affair with symmetry now a little over two decades old.
Then a scrape. That first downward scrape is a promise to finish what you’ve begun, to leave less of a mess than there had been before the beginning. The first few strands of hair willingly leave your skin and cling to the blade. The first fall of water feeds them down the drain, and you neither know nor care if they end up clogging the way.
The razor rises again, scrapes again, falls again, and you settle into a rhythm. Instinct takes over, the rise-scrape-fall becoming almost involuntary, and your mind is free enough to tell you that the hair has grown too long, that it’s been too long since the last blade-kiss. Regret rears its head—the taste is there on the tip of your tongue—but before it fully surfaces, you nick yourself on the chin as you are wont to. The pain comes and leaves, comes and leaves, as you repeatedly splash water onto the stripe of red until the wound clots.
You look in the mirror but don’t bother to find the pink scar. You know better than to try erasing it by looking at it. There are things better left to time, and you breathe a silent laugh when you realize anew that scraping long hair off is infinitely more satisfying than scraping off stubble.
Rise, scrape, fall. Rise, scrape, fall.
Instinct stops when only a few strands remain. You go over every inch a second time, chasing stragglers, making sure your sideburns stop at the same point beside either earlobe. You turn your head multiple times only to find that you’ve forgotten the sparse patch between your eyebrows, the one you refuse to have threaded since it has never quite mustered up the resolve to completely bridge the two sides.
A scrape, another, yet another, and you’re done.
As you look in the mirror to admire your handiwork, you wonder how shaving has turned from necessity to indulgence. This time, like the few previous ones, came after a spell of too much activity and too little respite. Your hair grows long as the past lengthens, but it isn’t until you shave that you know the past is ready to become memory.
You look down and see bits of hair clinging to the surface of the sink. You turn the tap on and lead them down the drain, not caring, as before, if they end up clogging the way.