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This is what it could look like when one completely deconstructs a life as one knows it, and how to build from the ground up. Alternatively, this is a fresh look at an old story. The fine art of falling apart.

Giving up the girl

Showering was starting to get difficult these days. In the past, I really enjoyed the whole routine of gathering the necessary items I would need in order to slip beneath the spray of slippery warm water, and have time to be alone. I’d select a clean t-shirt and pajama bottoms from the laundry basket of clothes I hadn’t gotten around to putting away, place them on the little upholstered stool at the edge of the bathtub. I’d make sure my yellow, thigh-length robe was hanging on the outside of the bathroom door. Check to make sure the jasmine-scented soap was still in the wire basket hanging from the shower head. Enough shampoo and conditioner for another wash. A brown towel hanging on the towel rack, ready to grab.

I loved the routine of things. The general state of being. My professors used to say I responded well to structure, pressure. But really, it felt like air trapped in a box. A simple thing, a shower…yes? It is. Every day, in nearly every household, thousands of people had their own little routines and took millions of showers, on every street, in every house. They did it unknowingly, just another step in the train of their days. Shit, shower and shave, so to speak. A general state of being.

But every time I went to gather my things, to set the taps running, it was like a tiny needle, moving under my skin. A small pinch. A small hurt. I don’t really think it was the shower itself, the water moving over me in small rivers and lakes was enjoyable, beautiful, moving poetry on my skin. Being there, reading the words of the love letters he had papered the walls with, years before. Yellowed, some of the lines unreadable, condensation long dried, wet, dried and wet again. A thousand times over.

It was those letters, I think. Every time I slipped into the shower, every time I let the water run through my hair and over my skin, I read those letters. I’d read them, standing up in the shower, peeking over the shower curtain, eyes following the lines even when I knew what they read.

When he started pasting them to the walls, I laughed and said they’d never stick. When one fell down, he’d carefully place it back from where it had fallen. I’d laughed and said it was a silly idea, I already knew how much he loved me and I certainly didn’t need to read about it while I washed my hair. He would say nothing, and just smoothed the paper on the wall, his hands running along creases and yellowed paper. So, they stayed there. I left them where they were and read them as I slid the bar of soap from my wrists to my shoulders, hands on myself.

All I remember is how he looked in the moonlight, while he was leaning over me, trying to catch my eye as we moved like two ribbons tangled in the wind. If I closed my eyes, I could see his slim body, white against the black. His ribs making their own shadows in lines with the moonlight sneaking in through the window. I’d watch his chest and how it moved with every gasp. I’d draw tighter around him. Trying to keep him in.

So now, I delayed the whole showering business an hour or so past when I was normally getting wet and wild under hot water. Instead of rising and hopping in, I would slip out of bed, pull on a pair of pajama pants and stand in the kitchen while I waited for my tea to steep. The window in that tiny room is long and thin, it looks out to the space between my house and the neighbors. I’d notice the change in seasons during my five minute tea making sojourn in the kitchen. The mists in early morning would be gathering between the houses, curling in the goldenrod that grew in profusion out there. Steeping tea, I’d watch the sun come into the space and burn the mist away, leaving little droplets of dew on glossy leaves of grass.

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