Short Friction

Writing to entertain and to stimulate thought

Wayne’s OCD

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Wayne finds he is developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder from his shaving cream can.

It all began harmlessly enough. Wayne had finished preparing the water to shave one morning, and was reaching for the shaving cream can when he noticed the legend printed around the top in thick, black letters: “Shake well before using”. Wayne thought this rather strange, but gave the can a vigorous shake nevertheless, then left it on the sink while he went off and found something else to do for half an hour.

Wayne went into the bathroom early the next morning to shake the can so it would be ready by the time he wanted to shave. Later, as he washed his hair in the shower, he wondered to himself exactly how long before using the shaving cream he should shake it. Was half an hour enough? Maybe whatever strange chemical processes were triggered by shaking the can would not be finished in just half an hour. Maybe they needed an hour. Maybe a day. When he got out of the shower, he shook the can again so it would be ready for him to shave the next day. That, he thought, should definitely constitute “well before”.

The next morning, putting on his deodorant, Wayne read the instructions. They just said, “shake well,” but Wayne figured it would be better to be safe than sorry. He was beginning to develop a vague sense that if he didn’t shake his shaving cream at least a day before using it something terrible might happen — like the can would explode or something. Maybe it would be the same for his deodorant. Not willing to risk it, he gave it a good shake before putting it back in his cupboard. An image formed in his mind of him running, screaming, to the nearest source of water while flames streamed from his armpits. He tried to shake away the thought, but it stuck with him for the rest of the day.

Now, during his Maths lecture, Wayne finds the image of the flaming armpits returning to him. He tries to concentrate on what the lecturer is saying, but to no avail. He has enough trouble concentrating on what he says at the best of times. Suddenly he finds the word “hairspray” has entered his head for no reason. Added to the image of flaming armpits is a ferocious ball of fire encompassing his head. Wayne wonders if he remembered to shake his shaving cream can this morning. How could he forget? But he feels he will be filled with a terrible dread the next time he shaves.

As soon as he gets home, Wayne runs agitatedly around his house looking for every pressurised, shakeable can he can find. Hairspray, Mortein, oven-cleaner, his housemates’ deodorant, an ancient can of WD-40 and a nearly empty can of spray-paint hiding in the back shed. His housemates are puzzled, but not entirely astonished. He is known to do inexplicable things.

Only when he has convinced himself that there is not a single unshaken can left in the house is he able to relax and do other things. Still, he occasionally stops what he is doing and mentally goes through the house, making sure he has left nothing unshaken. He figures if he shakes everything each day, then if he happens to need to use it say, a week later, he will be sure to have shaken it long enough beforehand.

Wayne never counted on the horrors a supermarket could offer for his rapidly developing problem.


Written by shortfriction

01/06/2009 at 19:55

One Response

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  1. […] presentations to mental health services. Denies any family history of mental illness. He states his first symptoms began around 18 months ago when he found himself worrying excessively about the potential […]

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