Her silhouette hadn’t changed. He remembered her at fifteen, the shape of her behind the obscure glass door, the press of steam and heat. He remembered knowing that he should look away, run away; he didn’t belong here, not with her. But the shape of her. The irony was not lost on him that he fell in love with a girl who found peace in hot water.
“Are you cold?” He held up the sheet for her. “Come on back to bed.”
“No.” Grinning, now. “I’m hungry. And I want a wash. Do you feel like cooking?” She shrieked and dodged the pillow he threw, giggling on her way out of the room. It felt fragile, this joy. There had been so little of it. Like thimblefuls of schnapps stolen from the liquor cabinet, each carefully replaced at the kitchen tap.
The bathtub scrim of dirt and soap scum was nauseating. Selena shrugged then stepped into the filth anyway, pulling the curtain around her. She washed quickly, rushed to get back to him before those intoxicating sips could be metabolized. The flood of heat down her neck drew her shoulders back. Bodywash bubbles ate at the edges of her footprints, distorting the shape of toes and heels, running white smears through the muck.
A white painted, shutterfront wallchest above the toilet held towels, camisoles, panties, and drawstring pants, each of these carefully rolled and stacked: David’s obsession with order. The bottom shelf held her personal things; toiletries, vitamins, pills. An identical cabinet on the opposite wall held his. She dried herself, brushed and braided her hair, then pulled on those weekend morning clothes. It was early. Far earlier than they had been up on a Sunday in over a decade. Since before university was over and weekend shift work gave way to office hours and paid vacations.
The day was getting away from her.
She brushed her teeth faced away from the vanity mirror, turning to spit. The cabinet door stood open, still, showing tidy rows of pinks and blues and whites. Sometimes she felt like tearing them all with her hands. Sometimes she could hear the sounds of ripping, feel the fabric chafing the sides of her knuckles, satin trim falling like ropes to the floor. David would find the mess in the trash and quietly replace them. He would look at her with sad and cautious eyes and ask if she wanted to talk. So, she left them, these perfect, soft things that he placed there because he loved her and didn’t want her to feel cold in a wet towel, walking through the halls of their life.
Selena rinsed and spit, wiped her mouth on a cloth, and folded it neatly back through its hanger. She filled a glass with water and took her multivitamin, no longer pressed for time. She picked up the small pink box and withdrew a thin foil sheet dotted with orderly rows of pink and green pills, each in its own plastic bubble. She freed one, nearly weightlessness in her hand. Such an insignificant little thing. It fell as quickly as any other. The sound of it was lost in the draw of the fan, the sizzle of bacon, the rush of fresh water. She closed the toilet lid and walked away.
© Desi S. Valentine, 2012