ellen and ben
Ben wraps a towel around his waist and reaches for the shaving cream. Ellen is sprawled across the bed. She is naked, except for a slim triangle of black silk, and there is a trail of rose petals tattooed along the pale of her inner thigh.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
He opens the mirror and rummages through the medicine cabinet. Rain hammers against the window. He watches the drops chase each other down the glass, and imagines that he can see Billie Holliday in the silver
streaks they leave behind. He finds a razor at the back of the cabinet and sets it on the edge of the sink.
Ellen rolls over and props her head up on a pillow.
"But I like your beard," she says. "I don't think you should shave it."
He turns the water on and twists the cap from a brown bottle of blue pills. He puts two of the pills on the sink next to the razor and returns the bottle to the medicine cabinet, closes the mirror.
"Did you hear me?" she says. "I don't want you to shave your beard."
He takes the pills with a handful of water, wets the razor, and sits down on the toilet.
"Don't worry," he says, unwrapping the towel. "The beard is safe."