“Is Alicia almost ready?” Rick asked Fiona in the morning.
“I hope so,” she replied. “She’s been in the bathroom for an inordinately long amount of time.”
But Rick didn’t have to wait much longer until Alicia was all set. The glades were just as exciting as Rick had expected, and despite a couple of close calls, they made it through just fine.
The weekend trip ended, Rick was driving the four of them back home in the snow. It had only been flurrying when they left, but all at once, Rick found himself attempting to navigate white-out conditions.
“Maybe you should pull this car over, man,” said Gerald, from the backseat.
“Nah. I’ve got this,” Rick responded. “Besides, I can’t even see the shoulder.”
“Rick, look out!” Alicia screamed.
Rick lost control of the car immediately and they went careening through a white void. It didn’t take them long to realize that they were buried deep in a snowdrift.
“We just have to hope that someone rescues us once the damn blizzard lets up,” said Gerald.
The four of them drifted in and out of sleep. Gerald and Fiona huddled together for warmth in the back seat, and Rick and Alicia did the same.
Rick woke to Alicia making sobbing noises, cowering away from him on the far side of the front seat, curled up in a fetal position.
“All of my toiletries are in the trunk right now, Rick!” Alicia cried. “I’m a freak!”
She cried louder and louder. “I am a freak, Rick! I am a freak!”
“It will be okay, Alicia,” said Rick, rubbing her cheeks together to comfort her. “Right now, the toiletries are the least of our worries. Look into my eyes: we will be warmer together if we stay together.”
His eyebrows abruptly twisted in confusion. “What’s wrong? C’mon, I know you’re not a freak.”
Alicia began to bawl. She seemed suddenly to remember that Gerald and Fiona were in the back seat, and a bit of relief washed over her when she saw that they were still asleep.
Hours later, Alicia was asleep, and Rick was scrutinizing her chin. He could discern nothing wrong with it. The chin looked exactly as it always had: on the bottom of a smooth and unblemished face. He stroked from her chin up to her cheek, then he did the same to his own, and found the two feelings identical.
“I’ve been this way ever since puberty,” Alicia whispered to Rick.
He immediately caressed her face, but found it perfectly smooth.
“You shaved, didn’t you?!” Rick whispered.
“Yes,” she said, casting her eyes downward.
“I don’t want you ever shaving again!” Rick said.
It took a bit more coaxing than that, but Alicia complied, and in time Rick was in ecstasy as he rubbed his face into her breasts and beard, feeling the weight of her beard as he hefted it into both of his hands.
Years later, Rick was more obsessed with her than ever. His own beard he hadn’t shaved in years, and it was so tangled and matted that it was all too painful to look upon. He was huddled at present in the corner of a filthy basement apartment, photographs and sketches of naked girls littered all around him. They all had beards drawn on them, yet despite his compulsion, Rick found the beards revolting. He dreamt of gorgeous women with invisible beards. He had searched for such a woman for ages, but didn’t know how to continue his search.