Story by Thom Kudla

…I was 18 when I noticed my first gray hair. Actually, it wasn’t me that noticed. My girlfriend, my high school sweetheart at the time – she noticed that gray hair. That single gray hair wandering from the center of my scalp, as if aware of the wars fought inside my mind, sought refuge in the escape toward the sun. We laid there, our eyes entranced with that shining orb’s setting motion in all its variegated splendor, and she brushed her petite hands through my hair. She always loved how soft my hair was, “for a guy.” We lay there, watching that sun sink deeper toward the earth, and we talked about many things – I discussed my parents’ impending divorce; she told me about how happy her parents were together. I mentioned how sad I can get sometimes; she said she smiles whenever she feels that mood strike her, and it changes everything. Then she found it – that gray hair.

“You’ve already got a gray hair,” she said, her dimpled smile and light voice hiding her judgment. “You work too hard. You stress too much. Someone your age shouldn’t have gray hairs.”

I laughed it off and kissed her. I kissed it away, all my fears about being too serious or being too sad or being too dysfunctional or not being enough for her or being too much for her. I kissed it away. She reciprocated my kisses in innocent pecks, naïve to the reality of where those gray hairs came from. She thought she knew. But I knew better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thom Kudla is an accomplished author and poet  from Chicagoland. He has written a variety of books, including the novel Confessions of an American (2005), a nonfiction book What My Brain Told Me — finalist in the 2009 National Indie Excellence Awards — and a poetry collection entitled Commencement.

NOTE: “This Gray Hair Means Something” a 1,000-word story by Thom Kudla will appear in the upcoming Silver Birch Press release Silver: An Eclectic Anthology of Poetry & Prose (available November 15, 2012).