The morning begins slowly. Three strong mugs of tea and solitude. I don’t count the radio, murmuring the news, telling me what to think for the day and the rest of my life. Sometimes I will sit in a green gloom with curtains closed. On good days I will draw the curtains wide and stare through the conservatory at a giant damson tree, its leaves furiously break-dancing, feeding on air.
The tree is a slow measure of the seasons, a dense green throughout summer, gold and brown then ragged as autumn progresses, and finally bare, showing the hills beyond.
Today I realised I was stroking a hair just below my bottom lip.
I hadn’t shaved; my face a mess of stubble. I realised at the same time that I always fingered this particular hair. Short and stubby just below the bottom lip. This was an errant hair following no particular grain, an oak amongst hairs. I still had two cups of tea to go, so plenty of time to work this one out. My hand coursed across both cheeks and jaw line. It was like feeling sandpaper, coarse uniformity. Not one hair drew attention to itself. If I arbitrarily chose one I immediately lost it when trying to find it again.
My finger returned to its old friend, pushing it from side to side, enjoying the tense tingle to the skin around it, feeling the urge to shave it hard, knowing it would grow again and be waiting for me as perky as ever the following morning.
Reassured, I drained my final mug of tea and woke up my wife. A new day begun.