"I'm getting gray hair," I told Emily. "It feels bristly, like the strands are thicker than normal."
"It's evil, old people hair," she said. "Seriously, though, it's just part of life. It happens."
It was a warm spring evening, and we sat on the balcony outside Emily's apartment, snacking on Cheez-Its and olives. She poured more white wine into my glass, and then into hers.
"I don't know," I said. "It doesn't feel normal. They're on my neck, too. My tweezers can't keep up."
She made a face and shrugged. "Happens to everyone. Welcome to middle age."
"Oh stop," I said. "You're not hairy."
"You don't wanna know how much I spend at the salon," she said. "I keep the waxers in business."
We drank more wine and I spent the night on her couch. I woke up feeling slightly less like a freak.
A few weeks later, things weren't so simple. Short gray hair had sprouted on top of my head, but my hair was still long and brown in back. The neck hair started coming in thicker, too. I bought a few turtlenecks and wore them even on hot days.
Soon my forehead began to swell, and I figured my stress had given me a massive pimple. I dabbed a sulfur mask on it before I went to sleep, hoping it'd be gone by morning.
I woke up in pain and discovered that the lump was even larger—and shaped almost like a dog's nose. With no way to hide the deformity, I called in sick.
I sent Emily a text asking her to come over after work.
"Well, gosh," she said, under-reacting as usual.
"What am I supposed to do?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said. "Just give it a few days, maybe."
A few days and many glasses of wine later, I struggled to accept what was becoming clearer every time I looked in the mirror: I was turning into a dog.
Emily refused to believe it.
"Have you looked at me?" I asked. "You can see the snout."
The lump on my forehead continued to grow, and nothing about it looked human. A shiny black nose emerged, and an upper jaw with sharp teeth formed beneath it. The protuberance shaded my eyes, like a visor. Something new was developing beneath my chin. It felt bony and narrow, like a dog's lower jaw.
"I think it's a wolf," she said. "These mountains used to be full of them."
"Am I gonna get paws next? Or, oh my god, a tail? Am I going to stop being human at all?"
"I don't know," she said, "but if it's just the head, it's not that big of a deal."
Lisa Beebe | 9