In the pink bathroom, my father lathers his face with shaving cream, watching himself through the fog of the mirror. He smells of salt and still bath water. He looks like some merman deep under the ocean’s peel. Reaching over to me, he turns my face to him, pulling my chin in his direction with his clean hand. He streaks shaving cream round my cheeks, lips. The smell rides through my nostrils, almost like chlorine when you first take a dive.
In the mirror, I look ridiculous. My peach fuzz peaking out from underneath the foam. My father is in his briefs, pulled all the way up to the belly button. I’m in boxers. I have one chest hair, maybe. My father’s skin is suede, with a belly grand as a globe, proud. I can count my ribs. I close my eyes, and wait.
My father takes his razor, and swiftly guides it from the top of his cheek, and down. It reminds me of lawn mowing, of him going back and forth in the summer heat, dripping sweat. He always smelt of gasoline when he would wrap his hands round the door knob to go back inside the house.
“J, it’s that easy,” he says, as he dips his razor into the running water. The entire bathroom looks like it’s blushing. Even the sink was pink.
The razor has two blades. My father holds my face, and puts the razor to my skin, and goes through the motions. As I look at the mirror, blood slides down from the top of my cheek.
“F-ck. I nicked you, J.”
He grabs a wash cloth, and tries to stop the gush. I can feel the warmth of the blood, slowly traveling down my skin, mixing with the shaving cream. It stops eventually, and he continues on, plucking the fuzz above my lip, the few chin hairs.
I wash my face and the water’s cool and my skin is soft. My face looks different, I think, without the hair. I try to imagine that this meant I was a man, or becoming what I thought my dad wanted me to be.
My father begins to take a piss while I am still in my bathroom. His briefs to his knees, and I turn away, and leave the bathroom, wondering if this was his “I love you.”