Ten minutes before her parents arrived to discuss our engagement, I caught Janet looking at me with a sort of sad, wistful look on her face.
“Janet?” I said.
“There’s something on your mind, isn’t there, Brian?” she replied. She put her hand on the side of my face, her fingers idly playing with a few strands of my hair. “It’s been weighing on you for some time. Why don’t you just say it?”
“Alright, Janet,” I said. I took a deep breath. “I’m under a lot of strain right now, with work and your family and mine and all, and there’s just a lot of pressure for me to look good, to impress, and… I worry sometimes that I might be losing it.”
Her hand stopped moving. She smiled and took a few steps back. Her hand remained where it was on my cheek, detaching neatly from the wrist. The stump bled shiny black beetles that immediately buried themselves deep in the shag carpeting. With her other hand, she reached up and ripped the skin away from her face, revealing a gaping black hole of nothingness behind it… nothingness that contained a horribly fanged maw and two flickering flames for eyes.
“But, Brian,” she said in a voice old and dead, “how can you lose what you never had in the first place?”
“Er, I was actually talking about my hair,” I said.
“What? Oh,” she said, smoothing her face back in place. She ruffled my thinning hair with her one hand while rejoining her wrist-stump to the other. “You look fine, dear. You look respectable. Dignified. My father was bald as an egg when he was your age, you know. Speaking of… we should finish getting ready. They’ll be here soon.”
I nodded, and we didn’t say another word about it. It was just one of those things. Privately, though, I found the whole thing very worrying… especially as my therapist had responded much the same way a few days before.