Himself – Stephen Ground

He only shaved his head twice to get enough.

Marcy had asked why, after years of the same, he’d shorn himself to the scalp. Time for a change, he’d said, quickly shifting to dinner plans with the Schnepplehorns that weekend. The paper-bagged crop collected dust in his trunk for months, only then smuggled into his garage workshop – the Lab, he called it, when no one was around. Especially her. Gluing wads of hair in fistfuls to burlap, he dabbed runaway craft glue from crooked eye stitches. Admiring his handiwork, he adjusted an ear that sagged to the chin. They grinned at each other.
Carefully cracking the door, he snuck inside, past the kitchen and upstairs, tiptoeing to avoid Marcy and her questions. Always the questions. In their bedroom, he snatched a preselected sweater, jeans, and cross trainers from the back of his bottom drawer, then silently lugged them under his arm to the safety of the Lab. Bundling it in his clothes, he adjusted the density of a few fingers then posed it at his workbench facing the wall. The limp head lolled side to side till he gave up and let it slump.

Swinging open the door, he hollered, I’m busy. Don’t bother me.

Not waiting for an answer, he slammed it shut then paced, eyeing his immaculate toolbox, custom golf clubs, the skeleton MG he’d bought to restore but had never found the time. His accomplice caught his eye and he froze, stared a little too long, then dropped to his knees by the shelf where the kids kept their off-season sports junk and dragged out a hidden duffel, sliding spare keys for the minivan in the driveway from a zippered side pocket. He hefted the bag on his shoulder, silently killed the lights then slipped out the back door into the night, leaving Himself to play lookout for the family crows.

Stephen GroundStephen Ground graduated from York University, then moved to a remote, isolated community in Saskatchewan’s far north. He’s since relocated to Winnipeg and co-founded Pearson House Films. His work has featured in Lost Balloon, From Whispers to Roars, Typishly, and elsewhere. Find more at stephenground.com .