Flash Fiction, Shorts

Words for the Wise

He was an old man, and singularly eccentric in the pride he held for his silky hair. On his twenty-fifth birthday he found his first silver hair on his otherwise coal-black mop. He pointed it out to everyone he saw that day, jutting his head out for them to examine. Observe, he said. Maturity. Physical proof he was aging.

On his thirty-second birthday he combed through his silver mane, which was then down to his shoulders, and plucked the last black hair from his head. He let it float down from his fingers to the trash bin and smiled.

Then he waited.

When nothing happened he frowned. What about all of those pictures of wise silver-haired men with long beards and tobacco pipes? Those thinkers and dreamers and doers. He was one of them now wasn’t he?

The silver-haired man kept waiting for wisdom to sprout up one day, just like his first silver hair had. The years passed. He kept getting older. He got a promotion at his job, and his girlfriend became his wife. He forgot about his dreams of being a dreamer when life picked up for him.

The old man worked and lived and laughed and cried, until, on his sixty-eighth birthday he noticed that his hair, which had been thinning during the past several years, was now mostly gone. He had been clinging to it for too long now, resorting to a lazy, long comb over. He had noticed his wife eyeing it from time to time, but she never spoke up.

Wisdom is not an object to acquire, he thought. Neither is it a trait that can be developed overnight.

With a sad smile the old man got out his electric razor and flipped it on. The buzzing sound of the vibrating clippers filled his ears as he passed it over his head, and lock after lock of silver hair wafted to the floor.

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