Is As Was


In October the leaves turned. In December they fell. Still, months after she’d left, he found her cast-away bobby pins whenever he swept, turned the bed, or yawned. Like breadcrumbs, he thought, women leave a trail of hair care ephemera wherever they rest their locks. From memory, he dialed her number.

— Stephen!

— Oh, I’m doing well, and you?

— Really? Congratulations! That’s a long time a comin’, if you ask me. You should’ve gotten that promotion years ago, when we were…

— Fine, things are going swimmingly.

— Oh, mother’s fine, complain-y as ever.

— I’m not sure what you mean?

— “The male corollary to the female trace of hair care and slumber?”

— Hmm.

— I do still find one of your red hairs once in a while. I had the carpet cleaned recently, but they still turn up.

— Well, you were losing a lot of your hairs.

— No, not bald.

— Balding, I suppose.

— You’ve got a little spot, didn’t you know?

— Oh, you take care too.

— Yes.

— Give my love to your mother.

Stephen hung up the receiver and walked to the bathroom. Like a child trying to catch a glimpse of the back of his head through sheer velocity, he spun ’round seeking proof of the supposed desert patch on his head. He ran his hand through his raven hair but refused the evidence. “buy hand mirror,” he wrote on the chalkboard near the dishwasher.

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