The morning during

It was an acceptable time in the morning to make a phone call that Chris  first anticipated at 3am.

‘Sorry mum.’ He began, attempting to present the strain in his voice as illness and not guilt. ‘I can’t make it. Tell grandma I’m sorry’.

‘That was rubbish.’ Gavin chided as Chris hung up the phone. ‘You didn’t even give a reason.’ He paused to assess the latest development.

‘Fancy another pill?’

Chris’ weary eyes focussed on Gavin and the bulging plastic bag leaning precariously on an overflowing ash tray. Chris looked down at his crossed legs on the bed; mesmerised as the paisley pattern on his trousers spilt into itself. His vision blurred and his surroundings seemed phenomenal, like a cat catching sight of herself in a mirror.

‘Yeah…one more. I don’t have anything to do today.’

Gavin turned his head to search for the bag among the scattered debris of the night. Chris flinched as the smooth, pink scar on Gavin’s neck became visible. It extended from the ear and spread to the collar bone. He’d never quite uncovered the origin of it. Once outside Hootenanny’s pub Chris overheard somebody inquire. Gavin had recoiled into himself and shaken his head. The  origin of the scar was evidently as deep as the fresh wound itself. Converging around the sideburn of unblemished, new skin was a charcoal rub of stubble. It wasn’t there the evening before and revealed both an abundance of dense body hair that abruptly stopped just above the windpipe.

Tracing the probability of a hair removal regime with his eyes, Chris wondered  if the personal choice not to have chest hair was just that: a lifestyle preference and nothing more worth speculating about. Did Gavin deem it unattractive? Was he trying to save drying time post shower? How uncomfortable was it to have stubble from the base of your neck right down to a jutting hip bone? Gazing at the neck Chris became aware of the tension in his own jaw. The tendons in Gavin’s neck were undulating. A constant chime and grind that would make every future meal for three days seem a grating chore.

Chris experienced a sudden chill in the stifling room and began to feel relief that Gavin was failing in his micro-mission. Gavin cleared his throat and began rubbing the chevron of his protuberant adams apple. Having forgot the task at hand he inquired: ‘Do you think I need to start wearing moisturiser?’

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