Intrepid Occurances on the way to my Eyebrows
One day, my two friends and I decided to make a grand expedition to my eyebrows, but to make things seem a little more mysterious, we did not tell each other about it.
Thus, when I bumped into my friend traversing my right cheekbone, we both made loud exclamations of surprise and delight. I had not seen my friend in many moons, and neither had he seen me, although we were both keen stargazers. We settled down to reminisce and blow bubbles, which we watched float away and sink beneath the horizon of my upper jaw.
My friend told me that nothing is as it seems, and I replied with a strange choking sound. “You sound like you have something stuck in your throat,’ my friend said, and I asked if he’d go to investigate and see what was causing the trouble.
He explained that he had passed over my throat a few days earlier, before climbing up to my chin, and felt it impractical to go all the way back and hinder his expedition, which I assured him I knew nothing about. He felt like he ought to offer some advice though, and so he told me not to eat so much apple strudel.
I put down my plate of crumbs and he stood up, preparing to leave my company, but before he did he gave me a plastic folder which held a lengthy document. He asked me to fill in every page as honestly as I could, then return it to him by noon tomorrow.
I watched him leave, striding up past my freckles until he became just a speck in the distance next to one of my lower eyelashes.
Upon opening the document, I was startled to find that all the pages had been left blank. A little note in the corner told me that this was intentional, and for a moment there, sitting aloof on the edge of my cheekbone, I wailed a little to pass the time.
Once it had passed, I felt it safe to cross the road and continue my expedition. A little way ahead, I stopped for rest and water at a small village that had been built on the edge of a small wrinkle that led down from the corner of my eye towards my earlobe. I knew the village was there because ever since it was built I have been irritated by much chattering during the daytime and a great deal of snoring at night. However, this was my only impression as I had neither seen nor smelled the place, apart from the rare occasions where high winds would blow eastward and the stench of roasted marigolds would climb in to hide in my nostrils.
I stayed in this town for five and a half years, during which time I forgot all about my expedition and lost all interest in any kind of eyebrow-related pursuit. Instead, I developed my passion for canoeing and white-water rafting until I was a world-class champion or, at least, very much like one. Some say that my idea to set up a canoeing society in the village was a futile one, especially since no one in the village knew how to make a canoe, nor did anyone know of any nearby rivers or lakes. The best anyone had was a small pond at the back of their house, but there were far too many ducks there. Nevertheless, I managed to form a pretty splendid group of canoeing enthusiasts, and we would go out every morning to practise our skills, sitting on rocks or benches and using brooms as oars.
One morning, when we were practising some of our most difficult manoeuvres, I couldn’t help but notice an astonishing group of strangers who had just arrived in the village. They came skipping gallantly down the street, all four of them holding hands and staring straight ahead with determination greater than that of an apple who had just fallen from the tree and wanted nothing more than to hit the ground with a splat.
I theorised for a brief moment. They must have decided a little while ago to stop and unpeel a bunch of bananas. The scent of banana was strong on their breath as they passed, and four empty banana peels were now tied to their belts and trailed behind them like the capes of amateur superheroes who had decided to join forces. They were now each peeling small oranges and I marvelled at how this was possible since they all held each other’s hands, but gradually this marvelling at such a possibility became the bewilderment that even possibility was possible.
The one with the largest nose had a smile that went from blue to green – you could draw a yellow lighthouse on it and not be able to tell. Next to the smile was a large, red cheek reminiscent of a field of bluebells which had been smothered in tomato ketchup, but this was not an indicator that she was out of breath. She was skipping quickly and gallantly along with the others, and those who chose to watch them fly by enjoyed the spectacle immensely – that is, unless they were the poor folk who were distracted fumbling in their rucksacks for their cameras, only to realise too late that they had not packed them after all. As I had guessed earlier, these unfortunate ones were among those who cursed loudly as the mysterious group vanished from sight.
At first, I thought it noble to follow after them, but just before I began, I caught a glimpse of something on the track beneath my feet. Picking it up to inspect, I was startled to notice it was a fallen eyebrow hair, which must have taken a leap of faith from the forehead of one of those strangers as they passed.
This discovery made me realise just how daft I had been to forget about my grand expedition. It could be that my friends were there already at my eyebrows, waiting for me – no, perhaps they’d given up on me already!
I apologised to my team of champion canoeists, packed my bag full of old canoeing magazines, slipped into my oversized woollen socks and set off immediately.
On my way, I passed wrinkles that I had not noticed before – a sure sign that I had aged. As there were no mirrors in the village, I had not glimpsed my face for five and a half years, so the landscape confused me at first, sending me off track. After some hours or trekking, I decided I was lost, so I sat down to comfort myself with one of my old canoeing magazines. Upon opening, I found that this was the magazine I had stuffed my friend’s blank document in for safekeeping, all those years earlier.
Thankfully, I now had the perspective necessary to fill in every page as honestly as I could, and so I did that, and by the time I was finished, I had a clearer understanding of my location, and turned south-east.
The position of the sun told me it must be nearly noon, so I hurried, over wrinkle and wart, until I made it to a small building that was perched next to my eyebrow. Inside, I passed some overturned lampshades and waded through some dampened paperwork, until I got to a desk that was swamped with forms, address books, envelopes and fax machine repair kits. My friend sat there in a chair, trying not to stuff his face with apple strudel, and with my eye glancing at the clock on the wall, I handed the document back to him.
He kindly told me I had given him instead a copy of an old canoeing magazine, and this led me to explain how I had become something of a world champion, or similar, and that it was a photograph of me on the front cover. He congratulated me, then told me his version of the story.
‘As soon as I reached your eyebrows, I made a promise never again to eat apple strudel,’ he said, wearily. ‘To make this more difficult, I set up an apple strudel factory which makes only the finest apple strudels, then applied for a job there as head taste-tester.’
I listened, but felt myself nodding off. ‘Unfortunately, because there was no head taste-tester at the time, I was accepted. Since then, I have had to lie and cheat in order to remain in the company. I have no idea if the apple strudels are the finest. We are sending them out into the world without knowing what they taste like!’
I comforted him with tales of my canoeing adventures and eventually convinced him to keep the canoeing magazine rather than the document. To this day I still have the document, and for some unknown reason I am quite proud of that.
Leaving his office then, I went to buy some apple strudel from a shop on the other side of my eyebrow. It turned out that my other friend had opened only a few days after the factory had appeared, so she told me over the counter. She also told me she knew nothing about the expedition to my eyebrows, and one day just decided to hike here for the fun of it. I told her an exaggerated version of my tale, then commenced to eat the apple strudel. Something about it made me begin gargling and choking until eventually I had to admit they were indeed the finest apple strudels I had ever tasted. I knew then my friend had nothing to worry about, and as I confirmed this to myself, I realised that neither did I.
I set out then, headstrong and wrinkled, to find something to worry about, and rest assured, I have not been heard from since.
Those Who Lurk
Occasionally, we would go to lurk in inefficient places. One at the back door, one upstairs, one in the closest cupboard to the sink, assuming the door was not stuck. The first things we always tried were the taps, then, depending on whether or not they worked, the doorstops. Places without doorstops usually left us baffled and afraid.
One of us was always responsible for packing and bringing the pyjamas, although no one ever changed into them, sleeping instead in bright, green overalls unless it was snowing outside. Sometimes, one of us would announce to the others that he would not sleep, and would use the time to investigate the inefficiency of the place. Such an investigation was always carried out subtly; that is, if a wandering fellow happened to brush past the window and casually look in, he would see only a stranger lurking in the corner shadows of the room, counting the dark patches and trying desperately to look innocent.
Discoveries made during these investigations were not shared with the others, unlike the slices of carrot cake our grandmothers would carefully wrap for us. Upon waking, we would go swiftly to lurk beside the food storage bag and the last one to salivate would be given the duty of opening the cake tin and serving everyone their breakfast.
One time, as we were nibbling our carrot cake slices, a great prolonged honking sound came down to spook us, and we immediately left our breakfast beside the fireplace and went upstairs to lurk next to the roof hatch. The bizarre sound continued, so we climbed the ladder, each of us still in our overalls, and emerged out onto the roof. As soon as we began lurking there – two of us next to the chimney, the others beside the drainpipes – the honking sound stopped, and when we returned downstairs to finish our breakfast, the carrot cake slices were no longer there.
Thus it is for those who lurk in inefficient places: incredible things happen, and we take great interest in them when they do. One of us made a drawing of the empty cake tin, another took a series of polaroid photographs and stuck them up on the wall to contemplate. That night, we slept little, most of us staying awake to investigate. Several wandering fellows brushed past the window and casually looked in, and I can say with glee and confidence that not one of them suspected a thing!
It is not obvious when the right time is to leave an inefficient place. Some say early afternoon, others around midnight. Some wiser lurkers (the ones who lurk at the ends of long white beards) say that they best time to leave is when one can lurk no more, but I have not found this to be universally true. One of our company died during a lurking expedition due to a severe allergy to carrots, and if he had left in that moment of his death, the wandering fellows outside would have been deeply disturbed and suspicions would have increased drastically.
No, I’d say from experience the best time to leave an inefficient place is a couple of hours before your wedding ceremony is set to commence. That gives you enough time to get ready and take the necessary precautions. Traffic cones don’t lift themselves, and the queue for the bus gets longer the more you wait.