A strange thing happened today, in that my right eyebrow disappeared. It must have happened overnight. I didn’t initially even notice it. I don’t usually pay attention to such things; my grooming usually concentrates on my immaculate hair and impeccable suit. The face tends to take care of itself, you see. A dab of moisturiser, a quick wash, that’s about it. Now, ties on the other hand require far more care. Sometimes I choose a full neck tie, other times a bow tie. The colour and fabric, the precision of the knot – these are all important things, nuances which declare my image far more than a mere facial feature. Maybe it’s about status; I am not sure. It’s not uncommon for me to spend ten or fifteen minutes scrupulously adjusting the knot, neatly positioning it directly between the collars. It was only when I arrived at work that the issue was brought to my attention.
Beth, a receptionist who has been there for as long as I have, had a habit of greeting me with the same warm smile and polite “hello” as I would enter the office. As I’ve confessed to you, my dear diary, I have somewhat of a crush on her – a mild fascination I have harboured for some time. We would flirt on lunch occasionally. Sometimes she would wear my favourite perfume. She has the most entrancing emerald eyes, a thin soft nose and luscious yet modest lips. Of course, you would also know that I have never acted upon this attraction; a man’s job is his living. A man’s job is his identity. It’s best to focus on such things.
On this particular morning, she paused briefly before the routine greeting. It was an odd look upon her face, as if she was trying to remember the name of a long lost relative. Once she did recognise me, she said her polite “hello” however the usually warm smile which proceeded it was tainted, a slight undertone of suspicion underwriting her otherwise meditative gaze. It only lasted a moment before she shrugged it off and resumed typing up her notations.
I was still, at this point, unaware as to the cause of her unease. Perhaps my tie was out of place? Perhaps it was the wrong colour to match my dark pinstriped jacket? I made my way into the restroom to answer these questions. It took me a moment to even realise what had happened. After surveying my acceptably placed tie and my carefully crafted hair, the missing eyebrow finally came to my attention. It had simply vanished. I did not wonder where to; such questions are best left to those with the training and facilities to investigate them properly. Besides, maybe it will reappear tonight – who am I to say? I did suffer a momentary concern however: would my colleagues recognise me? My friends? I dismissed this concern almost as immediately as it arose. Beth had recognised me, despite the delay. At any rate, I was still dressed in the same manner I always was, and I had always made a point of dressing distinctively enough to stand out (while also cautiously ensuring I fit in – one does not want to stand out too much).
As I travelled through the day, each interaction with my co-workers mirrored that of Beth. A moment of hesitation, followed by recognition, albeit suspicious. No mind – I got my work done and eventually everybody became accustomed to me as I was.
All in all, today was not such a bad day.
I suppose when it rains, it pours. I had hoped to impress my colleagues with a gorgeous new teal tie which perfectly matched my pinstripe navy blue jacket. Instead, standing in front of the mirror and adjusting my outfit, I noticed that not only had my other eyebrow vanished but so had my nose. It must have happened in my sleep. I must have stood in front of the mirror for half an hour. Would they even notice the tie at all? I arrived at work expecting the polite greeting from Beth. It did not happen in the way I expected. Rather, she looked at me from under a furrowed brow, busily distracted by her notes. I seemed to be some sort of irritating source of distraction from her typing.
“Can I help you?” She asked me dismissively.
Can I help you? Was she making a joke? I had spent weeks shopping around to find the perfect new tie; something to dazzle. Something to make an impression.
“It’s me,” I told her.
She looked at me with a frown, “Who?”
“Me,” I stressed. I tried to frown back at her but my lack of eyebrows prevented me from doing so.
She paused another moment and then her face abruptly changed. “Oh,” she said with a mixture of mild surprise and moderate confusion, “It’s you. I’m sorry, I didn’t recognise you.”
“I bought a new tie,” I replied.
“I see,” she nodded slowly before resuming her typing.
My interactions throughout the rest of the day were similarly disheartening. One of my colleagues informed me that Beth had worn my favourite perfume today. Lacking a nose, I was unable to identify such a thing. Should I have gone back and complimented her on it regardless? I decided against it, ultimately. Things got worse as I overheard the others talking. The conversation was not about my suit at all but rather something altogether more disparaging.
“Who is he?” One co-worker asked another.
“I’m afraid I’m not sure who that is,” the other responded, shaking his head in sorrow.
As you well know, dear diary, I always make the effort to dress to impress. Why didn’t they notice?
This morning my ears and mouth were no longer where I had become accustomed to them being. I woke up early in order to get a new haircut. It hasn’t been long since my last one anyway – I just wanted to look particularly sharp. It needed to be perfect. It needed to suit me.
As I walked into the office, Beth merely glanced at me, giving a quick nod in a fashion similar to how one acknowledges a stranger on the street. I tried to brush my fingers through my perfect hair to draw attention to the fresh haircut; it did not work.
The others in the office would lean in and closely talk while staring at me. Sooner or later they seemed to have figured out that as I had no ears, I could not hear them anyway, rendering the leaning and closeness pointless. By the end of the day they simply stood and stared, confused expressions and furrowed brows permeating the office. I suppose they were wondering who the apparent “stranger” in their midst was, though I still didn’t understand why they didn’t recognise me.
At one point a security guard approached me and began speaking at me. After a while, he figured out that I could neither hear what he was saying nor speak a response. Not that I missed my mouth particularly; my job revolved around typing reports and accounting. Hands are important for such a thing. Mouths are for talking and talking is merely a distraction for a working man like me. At any rate, the guard took out a notepad and placed it on the desk in front of me. He took a pen in his meaty left hand, adorned by a heavy brass ring, and quickly scribbled a question: “Who are you?”
I paused for a moment, considering the question. It seemed obvious, didn’t it? I took the pen and wrote my response: “I am me.”
He stared at me, making me deeply uncomfortable. After a few minutes I took the pen and crossed out the last word I had written. I stood in front of the mirror for a long time tonight before sitting down to write this. I can’t help but wonder if my response was accurate.
Standing in front of the mirror once again, it became apparent that it no longer had any eyes. It blindly stumbled to work, relying on the familiarity of the route it had walked so many times. It was relatively sure it had picked out its favourite crimson necktie.
It sat down at its desk for hours, touch typing and seemingly noticed by anyone, not that it would have known.
In the afternoon, it felt a firm hand with a heavy ring clasp its shoulder. The hand directed it towards a notepad it could feel on the desk and handed over a pen.
Though it could not read what was written but it knew the question anyway. It didn’t need to pause this time. It simple picked up the pen and determinedly wrote out its response: “It is.”