It has taken me a year to grow the beard of my dreams. I bought all the oils, all the conditioners, all the brushes and now it is dark and full of mirth down to my navel. That is until a bird flies into it. And it is not just any bird, no. This one has a beak on it. And by that, I mean, it speaks fluent English.
I panic, trying to scrape the avian being from my hairs but I cannot get even a fingertip on it. It takes all of ten minutes before it pops out brandishing a quitclaim deed. I say that does not make any sense since I own the beard because it is attached to my body. The bird disputes it, saying that there is a clause that grants him immunity since it also dangles below the neck. I say that is bullshit as I sneak my hand underneath, in hopes of grabbing it. He claws me with his little talons, drawing blood. He points to the near-literal chicken scratch on a piece of toilet paper. His name is right there, Jetsam R. Bird. The ‘R’ is for robin and the length of the deed is for 45 days.
I go about my days in purgatory. He chirps manically as to draw in a mate. He has sex in my beard. Next thing I know, he and his mate have eggs. I can feel the weight of it all pulling my chin down. When the eggs hatch, it opens a whole new level of hell. Jetsam flies to and from my kitchen. He attacks the fruit bowl, taking up apple stems and a rotting banana for structural support of the beard-house. He also demands that I chew my food to sand and forego small rations for his children. I, again, say that is bullshit and, again, he pulls out the deed. I give them oatmeal for a total of 9 meals.
I have lost track of the days because Jetsam’s family chirps on and off every hour. My eyes twitch involuntarily and are bloodshot. The television and my phone are hazy to me. I’m left with rice and chicken broth for food. As I gaze at the fuzzy babies starting to flap about, I dart my eyes to the kitchen shears. I know what I must do.
When Jetsam and his mate leave for worms, I wrench the beard-house by the root, snip it clean, and lob it into the trashcan outside. My legs dart me inside to lock the windows and doors. I wait by the window, breathing fast and shallow for what seems like an eternity. Day turns to night and day again. The birds continue chirping. Jetsam and his mate never come back. I draw a huge breath of air, running my fingers on my prickled chin, and taste bird droppings one last time.
Josh Dale is a graduate student, publisher, and subservient vassal to his Siamese cat. His work has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Breadcrumbs Mag, Page & Spine, and a book, Duality Lies Beneath (Thirty West Publishing, 2016). He blogs occasionally at joshdale.co and posts average-ish content on IG & Twitter @jdalewrites. He lives in Pennsylvania.
image: Lindsay Hargrave