[SPOILER: It has nothing to do with gender.]
Legally I’m not allowed to grow a beard. The last time I did the beard grew in with such glory that most of those who looked at it directly were stricken blind, and inevitably fated to descend slowly into madness. Those lucky few who managed to avoid losing their sight gouged out their own eyes to preserve the memory of my beard without interference from everyday visual stimuli. A blind cult evolved to worship my beard, where lesser beards were sacrificed on an altar of mustache paraffin and beard combs. Panic spread through the bearded community for no beard was safe so long as the cult existed, and with new members joining daily from exposure to my beard, it was quickly becoming a matter of national security; the cult had turned its sightless gaze to President Garfield’s mighty visage.
Approached by the president himself, who, having heard the legends and the warnings, swathed himself in black cheese cloth to diminish the devastatingly high levels of glory radiating from each follicle, I was asked to remove all traces of facial hair for the good of the people. I’ve never heard a man speak with more sorrow in his voice than when I heard President Garfield force himself to ask for the destruction of what he called “The Messiah of Beards”; even through the cheese cloth, he could see enough to be profoundly changed by it.
It was a quiet affair, The Shaving. In a cottage stashed in the great Virginia wilderness, I shaved off every last trace of facial hair, gathered it into a basket of wild flowers and ivory combs, and gave it a proper viking funeral on the sweeping currents of the Potomac river. Returning to D.C., the cabinet was sworn to secrecy, and I signed a document swearing never to grow any sort of facial hair again, for the good of the people, and the good of the country. President Garfield wept the silent tears of a man witnessing the death of true beauty.
That document is still kept under lock and key and 24 hour guard in a vault seven miles below D.C. so that even natural disaster and zombie apocalypse has no chance of destroying evidence of my agreement, and testimony of my sacrifice from one of the greatest bearded presidents this country has ever seen. No pictures exist of my glorious beard, and all texts describing it directly have been burned. The only record that even acknowledges that it once was is that single parchment long buried in D.C., and the odds of anyone ever finding it are laughable. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you some epic beard to appreciate, so here you go.
[ABOUT THE AUTHOR’S BEARD]
Her name was Sally, and it’s said she glistened in the sunlight “as if spun of gold, bronze, copper, and the laughter of children”.
[ABOUT THE AUTHOR]
Adalind Monroe is a time-travelling lady maverick who daily says a prayer for her beard in the ancient tongue of the Nords. When she’s not sighing wistfully from a window seat on overcast days, just like the day she shaved for the first and final time, she writes genre fiction in the fantasy and horror flavors. If you want to read more by Adalind, check out the Short Story and Flash Fiction sections of the site. Or, if you want to read LONGER things by Adalind, then just hold onto your breeches: “Prince of Darkness”, an Eleasian novel, is already in the works, and you’re going to love it.