TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE. LITTLE CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
The water rushes onto her head, washing her down, surrounding her with white noise and taking the last of the lather with it, down and away. Fast down her shoulders and back, it cleanses her; when she shampoos her hair, when she soaps her skin. Even the dark places where the soap can’t reach. That place far back in her mind and deep in the pit of her gut where her past lives. The place where, if she’s not very careful, her memories can make her dirty again.
The spigot makes a slight high-pitched squeal as she turns off the water. She reaches for the towel that she placed, neatly folded, atop the shiny white toilet tank, right outside the combination shower and tub.
When she was first shown this small apartment three weeks ago, she was pleased to find the bathroom had all white porcelain fixtures and original tile. She liked it. No real reason at first, it just looked nice and crisp. She quickly discovered that if you’re careful and keep it clean and wipe the water spots up before they dry, it always looks so shiny and new, though it probably dates back to sometime in the early ’60s. Its outward appearance defied the years of abuse, the tears, broken glass, blood and scum it had, no doubt, endured. And after all that, all it took was a good scrubbing and a buffing with a clean, dry towel and it looked sparkling and as good as new again. It doesn’t escape her that a bathroom with white porcelain can keep a lot of secrets.
She takes the pale blue towel and lets it unfold. As she buries her face in it, she inhales its freshness. It was clean. It didn’t smell of mildew or of someone else. It was new and clean and it was all hers. She patted herself dry and wrapped the towel tight around herself. She gently pushed aside the white eyelet shower curtain her mother had given her and stepped over the side of the tub onto the matching pale blue bath mat. The towels and bathmat, and nearly everything else in the apartment, were gifts from her mother for housewarming. Her mother would have given her anything to keep her safe and warm. It’s how she was… and she was just so grateful to have her girl back in one piece.
She removed the towel from her tall, gangly frame, bent over at the waist and wrapped it around her head like a turban. Sparingly she applied her lotion, walked into her bedroom and slipped on the clothes she had laid out for herself, making sure to keep a light on only in the room she was occupying.
Tonight, she would wear jeans, her new lavender V-neck sweater (that sort of looked like cashmere) and a pair of black boots with medium high heels. She wanted to look nice but not like she was trying too hard. She turned out the bedroom light, went back into the bathroom and quickly blow dried her hair and brushed her teeth. As she put on her makeup, being careful not to make eye contact with herself, she began to wonder how she’d… “Stop it,” she said out loud, scolding herself. Her chin dipped toward her chest and her hands dropped to the corners of the sink as a way of steadying herself. She froze, barely breathing. Thinking about anything other than the simple tasks at hand wasn’t doing her any favors (especially after what happened a couple of days ago). She breathed, closed her eyes and, having gathered herself, softly said “OK.” She finished by putting on a little apricot lipstick and a bit of gloss, ignoring the slight trembling in her hands. She took her matching hand towel and dried out the sink and left it nice and shiny. It was so easy to buff the surface and make it look pretty. You certainly couldn’t tell that someone had just spit in it. She neatly draped the towel over the rack so it would dry, and snapped off the light. She grabbed the black dress coat that she had worn to her new job and headed out the door. She hadn’t felt up to arranging a ride for tonight, so if she wanted to catch the 7:23 pm bus she’d better move.
After less than a minute’s walk down her street, she arrived and sized up the other people at the bus stop. A woman, about twenty-five years old, held the hand of a little girl who looked about four. They were both bundled up against the cold city night and the little girl’s dark eyes shone with a smile in the lamplight. Upon her arrival at the bus stop the two women instinctively exchanged glances and a quick smile – safety in numbers. A boy of about sixteen, who seemed deeply committed to communicating his taste in all things retro-punk via his posture and wardrobe, sat slouched over, hands jammed into pockets, feet propped on the seat of the bus stop bench and his butt on the backrest. Lots of piercings, spiky black hair, unlaced combat boots and a leather motorcycle jacket that was way too thin to keep him warm in this weather. I guess it’s not too cool to let on that you’re freezing your skinny ass off. Anyway, he’s harmless.
The city bus rolls up and the doors slap open. She lets the mother and child go first then she makes her way up the steps, dropping exact change into the fare box, and finds a seat where she calculates someone is least likely to sit near her. She’d be there in ten minutes, although she doesn’t want to go. The thought of it terrifies her. If she goes, she’ll have to talk to people and she’ll have to tell them the truth so maybe they can help her. She wanted to call out to the driver to wait. She wanted, with every fiber of her being, to bolt off the bus and run like hell, but the only thing that frightened her more than going forward was going back to where she’d been. She knows that, like the memories that haunt her, some ghosts are real. Some ghosts are real and they can hurt you. So, she doesn’t call out and she doesn’t run. She forces herself to stay quiet and to stay put and, although she’s scared to death, she goes anyway. She goes because, despite her cool, polished exterior, she is desperate. The driver shuts the doors and off they drive into the night.
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Thank you so much, xoAmie
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