By Douglas T. Vale
Copyright 2012 Douglas T. Vale
Cover image courtesy of Morenosoppelsa / StockFreeImages.com
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Lena woke early because her beard itched. The edge of the sky outside her window was shifting from night's navy blue to a pre-dawn green. Her hands wriggled into her beard and parted it so she could scratch her neck. Then she stopped scratching and peered down.
She threw her covers aside, bolted from the bed, and stumbled to a mirror in the corner. She tugged the beard again with one hand and gripped the rim of the mirror with the other. The beard fell halfway down her chest like the bristles of a soft straw broom.
"No, no, no...this is not good...I'm dreaming, this is all a really bad joke I'm playing on myself..." She pinched her right arm, then her left, and then slapped herself across the face.