"If you listen closely, you can hear life."
It had been a long day. It seemed to her that her entire day at this point revolved around how quickly she could get home. How quickly she could press through the wind whipping the flesh off her face and stripping her complexion to an abrasive red. When the little bell on her watch rang, she leapt out of her seat, bundled herself up and dashed toward the car.
She didn't hear the radio, didn't pay attention to anything currently going on. All that was in her mind was a routine she followed day in, and day out. Parking the car neatly in the garage so that it gave her enough space to crawl out. Clicking the button twice on her keypad so that she made sure that the car was locked (in truth, she always thought it sounded more musical that way, too).
The sound of doors opening, of shoes clanking up the cold metal stairs. Stop. Turning onto a landing that led to another flight of stairs. More clanking. Another door.
"Keys. Where are my keys? Shit...."
It didn't matter how large or small her purse was, she could never find her keys. The closer she got to home, the more she caught up with the time she was envisioning. Her hands would clasp the keychain of a now non-existant radio station that had been scratched over time and she would finally be transported into the present. Now that her rustling and rummaging had stopped, she pushed the key into the lock with a determined expression on her face.
It was all leading up to this. The drop.
The drop where once the door was swung open, she could let go of everything. Once the door was closed, the world didn't matter anymore. She kicked off her shoes, letting them land wherever they may. Her bag spilt across the tiled floor, much to what would have been her mother's dismay. With windows wide open, she stripped herself slowly with each step she took.
Click. She always did love the sound that switches made. It wasn't as if she was even in the room anymore. An orchestra was performing Adage to Rest in her honour. Quietly, it began with towels dropping neatly folded onto the toilet seat. Then, suddenly, a clap of power came from the opening and closing of the cabinet where she pulled out her hair dryer and plopped it on the counter.
The sticky noises that came from her barefeet padding across the cold tiles in search of her foot towel, meant the chorus was drawing nearer. Now, the vent was on. Drum roll.
The first step into the hollow tub was never a sure one, and it made a rubbing echo-y noise. Building momentum, the curtain was pulled and it squeaked and jolted as every ring marched farther to the opposite end of the bar. Bend.
Her fingers traced the sharpied-in sign.
All showers have their quirks, one might even go so far as to call them human in that respect. Some never became hot enough, some pulsed too harshly. Some were simply not positioned in a way that covered one's body entirely. This shower, was not without its problems. Yes, it did become hot enough. But after pulling (with some force) the knob out to start the shower, and the dial turned over to the H section, there was one spot - the ten o'clock spot that became cold. As if disobeying every natural law she could think of, the shower in that one section became colder, and remained colder than the temperature it should have been. The first day moving into the appartment, Eric had noticed it too. Back then, they would make fun of it, jump in the shower together and just try to figure out how to fix it. Obviously, more romantic fun would ensue, but sometimes, the two, like silly children would just sit in the shower (sometimes fully clothed) and let the water pour on them as they tried to understand the zaniness of their shower.
Eventually, after a month of moving in, before throwing out the sharpie that they had used to mark all their cardboard boxes, he drew a thick line beginning at the knob, and all the way out to the end of the silver circle surrounding the knob of the shower. On the tiles, he wrote the number 10, because it looked like, if the face of the shower dial were a clock, that would be where the number 10 would sit.
Naked and small, she didn't turn on the shower. She sat, cross-legged, letting her thighs numb. She traced the sharpie sign over and over again. In her mind, she heard his briefcase being opened and closed quickly before it was rested for the day by his desk. She heard the melody of phone buttons beeping while he checked their voicemail. The TV being turned on, but only quietly, so he could hear when her shower was done, so that he too, could get ready to relax himself after a long day's work.
Still sat on the tub floor, she grabbed the knob and pushed it straight to the spot. Before, it had always been a place to avoid, but today, she would bathe herself in it. What made the 10:00 spot even more discomforting was that up until that point, her body was getting used to warmer, and warmer temperatures. And all of a sudden, it became sharply cold.
The water hit the top of her head with a stronger force than what it felt like if she were standing. Cascading over her, her hair drooped over her forehead like a thick, blank wall that protected her from the harsh temperature coming over her. In this cold water, it was okay to feel vulnerable and fragile, because in her mind she could easily excuse it and blame it on the temperature of the water.
She whispered his name softly between the drops of water that fell along the edges of her face, where her hair was not covering her. Salt mixed with ice and soap she tried her best to clean herself. Wash away the pain.
Choking with cold, she thought of her life in the way of the ten o'clock spot. Eric had come into her life four years ago. Slowly, their friendship blossomed, and heat grew. Two years ago they married. Life was getting even more pleasurable. Then, out of the blue, frigid waters overcame the burgeoning flame.
They sell things with life time warantees. Appliances, insurance, sharpies. Some things are permanent. And then there are some things you just don't change.
She pushed the knob closed, with her eyes closed, and pulled her hair back. Kissing the 10:00 spot tenderly goodbye, she crawled out of the bath tub, slowly inching toward her towel.
She dried herself off, and put on her pyjamas, and headed toward the kitchen to start making dinner. Friends would be coming around to play cards and watch TV with her (although she knew they were there only to make sure she was okay). She gathered the black clothes that trailed from the front door to the bathroom, and it looked like no one had ever been in the home.
Like before the cardboard boxes had been grudgingly lifted up two flights of stairs to the place. Before the sharpie pen even existed.
There are times when there is no choice but to move on, despite how tightly one may cling to the past. For it feels like there is nothing more permanet than naked memories and funny showers. But, as cooking a bad meal will often tell you, its what you change that makes it good.
Her doorbell rang, and she heard her voice this time over his, "if you listen closely, you can hear life".
Your wife who is slowly adjusting to your sudden death
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