How Do You Catch a Falling Star

by Russ

Craig stared into the mirror, laser focussed on the embarrassment of wispy hair growing in patches between the top of his lip and the bottom of his nose. He strained the muscles behind it, hoping somehow he could push more out, but succeeded only in distorting his face into the image of some cartoon animal which desperately needed the toilet. A wheezy groan escaped as the effort finally released itself, like air from a badly tied balloon.

The knock on the door shocked him back into the room.

‘Craig, you OK in there?’ The enquiry was kind, with a coating of impatience.

‘I’m fine, mum!’ The response was too defensive, as Craig realised he’d been locked in the bathroom for twenty minutes and his mum had just heard him grunting.

‘Ok,’ she finished, soft and firm at the same time. ‘Your sister needs her bath.’

‘I’ll be out in a minute.’ there was still a petulance in Craig’s tone, but it was slipping into resignation.

The interrupted boy looked around himself, sighed, and tidied away his dad’s shaving kit, deciding to give it another week and see what happened. Checking there were no more incriminating signs to be found, he flushed the loo, and let himself out. His mum had gone downstairs, but his little sister stood on the landing, making an annoying ‘What have you been doing?’ face as he walked past. Craig made sure to give her a little push with his shoulder, unbalancing her enough that she fell against the wall.

‘Wanker!’ she shouted.

‘Alicia!,’ the admonishment rose up the stairs. Now it was Craig’s turn to make a face, as he pulled the handle of his bedroom door, and exited the scene.

Craig sat on his bed and picked up his laptop, still displaying on his Facebook feed the photo which had inspired the bathroom excursion in the first place. Jenny Banks all wrapped around the neck of Ollie Forshaw, gazing lovingly up at his stupid moustached face. How had he grown that? He was the year below, it wasn’t fair!

Opening another tab on his browser, Craig started searching. Maybe there was a secret book, or something, with an easy to follow How to Grow Facial Hair guide, all graphics and arrows pointing the way.

Laying back on his bed, Craig switched from big Facebook to little Facebook and scrolled down to the same image with his phone. He clicked on Jenny’s name and started flicking through her carefully curated profile pictures; always smiling, always arms around someone, or light reflecting off her sunglasses, which was some achievement, considering they lived in Carlisle. Most importantly, no Ollie, him and his fuzzy lip were a new addition.

Craig clicked back until that photo reappeared, How do you catch a falling star? Jenny had captioned it, followed by a string of heart eyed emojis.

‘Hopefully with his fucking face,’ Craig quipped to the screen, which remained nonplussed, and unconciously rubbed a finger along his lip.