The old showerhead, belonging to one of the old showers-those kind that have an oval shaped shower rod, that go over those clawfoot bathtubs, you know those?-sputtered as it started the water for my shower. I hardly cared enough to shower these days, but if I didn’t, he’d be angry. I stripped, as the water heated and steam filled the room.
“Shit, the towels!”
I had not, this time, forgotten my hairbrush, and I soaked up the steam like a sponge while I brushed my hair. I didn’t have long, though…my hair was almost as spongy as my skin, and soon enough it’d be too wet to brush. So, a few seconds later, I shook my hair out and climbed in.
It was a pleasant enough feeling to bring a ghost of a smile to my face for a fleeting second. I hardly cared about anything anymore, as I’d given up about most things in my life. Showering seemed a superfluous expense of money and effort, so did eating. The internet was used by both my boyfriend and I, so that wasn’t an indulgence…that I could indulge in as much as I liked without really having to bother about effort or extra expense. I’d forgotten them, which isn’t entirely abnormal, so I sprinted naked to the bedroom to fetch them, and sprinted back before too much steam escaped from the door. I loved my hot showers, and the little bathroom being well able to turn itself into a sauna was one of it’s assets.
My boyfriend, though, didn’t seem to agree. He got angry when I didn’t shower at least every two days, telling me that if I was going to be without work, I could at least keep busy, not be lazy. I could at least keep clean. And so, no matter that I would simply get verbally beaten for using up more of the costly items, I showered.
I sunk into my thoughts, about the day, the week, my life, while I was showering. Why couldn’t he just get it? Why couldn’t he just be less of an asshole? Didn’t he care? Didn’t he-
I looked down to find that I’d cut my leg shaving, something else I always had to be sure I did. I was suddenly fascinated, transfixed by the bright stream of red coursing down my leg. I could smell the copper. Blood…huh. I stopped moving, stopped pissing, and simply tried to understand the fact that I could feel. That I was alive. I simply could not comprehend it.
You see, I’d started to wonder, in my partially self-created hell, whether or not I was truly real. Whether or not I was actually alive…wondered if I was simply dead, moving around like an animated corpse. I made zombie jokes about myself sometimes, which on occasion degraded into Jesus zombie jokes-who hasn’t made one?-but I really did doubt that I was alive. I had long ago become numb. Long ago I had forgotten what it was to feel anything, though those rules seemed to disappear when I was fighting with him. When he was not home, when we were not fighting, I felt nothing. Nothing but the dull pain of breaking in my mind, slowly driving me mad. I had even started to become physically numb…partially to deal with the pain, partially to deal with what always came when we entered that end room that held our queen bed.
I had been alive once. I had to have been; I had reached physical adulthood, I had curves and a mature if severely underweight body, which meant that I must have been alive, living, long enough to achieve that.
But that was long ago, before him, before my hell, before I had to turn off and cut away piece by piece of myself in order to survive, in order to keep hold of my sanity. Now, I was broken, numb, un-whole, deadened. Just a degraded deconstructed shade of a being…starting to wonder if I was just walking cold.
So when I felt the cut of the blade, felt the searing white hot heat of overly-hot shower spray hitting wound, saw the thick stream of crimson copper down my leg, I didn’t understand. How could this be? How could I be displaying signs of life? How could I be feeling this? I was alive? “I wonder…what if I just…started being less careful? That‘s not bad, is it?”
No. Unforgivable. Unallowable. I would need to kill off more of the broken shards. I was not permitted life. A deconstructed half-being, I must always be.