I stood in my shower this morning, letting the cold air hit my naked body for a full three minutes before I could muster the energy to turn my water on. I’d been up since six AM, and sleep didn’t seem likely to return. The sandman’s visit, much like my patience with myself these days, was all too short.
I didn’t even know what to do with my body when the water started to make the pipes in the walls rumble dangerously. A high pitched “screeaaal” signaled the eminent burst of water through the shower head. That first explosion is always cold water. I know better than to just stand in front of the shower head at this point. This morning, though, I just couldn’t bring my tired hand up to block the cold dagger that slashed at my cheeks. I started though, shifting my feet under me while the wet porcelain squeaked beneath. I let the water warm up as it simply flowed over my tired, shaking body.
I was in no mood to be awake. In truth, I could have turned off the water, gotten out, thrown my clothes back on and jumped back into bed. But sleep felt like a lost cause. So here I was, getting ready for day, for a world that I didn’t think had any business asking anything of me for the next fucking week. I looked down as streams of water cascaded off my thighs and my shoulders, and I laughed like a 4 year old who’d just noticed that “water go down the hoooooole.”
I wondered what aspects of my being were also going down the drain other than the dirt from under my bare feet and a couple of million dead skin cells. I pictured my sense of self, my notions of justice, my ability to love and my tolerance for the rest of the world as lithe beings of white light that coagulated at the drain before the small whirlpool sucked them all down, their tiny hands reaching for the sky, their bodies quivering in a desperate bid for survival.
I cried at that moment. A funerary dirge played in my head as my body shook with silent grief. It sounded a lot like the theme song I once heard from from the movie Platoon. Samuel Barber was a fucking genius, but I wanted to kick him for it. My brain chugged into gear at that moment like an old Ford truck having “one of them fuckin’ days.” I began to ponder what else was going to go down that drain before this shower even began in earnest.
Steam started to come up around my feet before I realized I wasn’t even standing under the shower head anymore. I took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten. It was a practice I’d started in High school whenever my little brother would wake up and have a temper tantrum outside my bathroom door as I got ready for the day. If I couldn’t get to the number “one” and think of something that would make me smile or look forward to my day, than I would keep counting until something sprang to mind.
On some of those mornings I must have counted for a good ten or twenty minutes before anything came to mind.
My right eye socket started to throb before I took a deep, shaky breath. A tiny taiko drummer was inside my head, beating my skull exuberantly. I wanted to flay him.
And then it suddenly hit me. My tears had washed down the drain as well. Anger, sadness, loneliness, and the sense that I’m not good enough all had shot through me and released themselves through the acid burn of my eyes. Salty heralds of my pain had had their chance to go unchecked, and yet they too were sucked down by the great equalizer that was my bathtub’s metal circle of death. The Titanic might has well have struck an iceberg in my fucking bathtub for all it mattered. I didn’t have the strength to rescue anyone. But then I pictured all the passengers as nameless representations of some of the many things that have weighed me down of late. I realized then that I didn’t want to find a life preserver for anyone other than myself.
What other passengers could I picture on this sinking ship of insanity?
What other passengers would you all picture on such a ship?
The horror writer in me simply laughed at the hapless passengers on my own version of the Titanic as they sank into the watery depths below. That sense of the macabre, believe it or not, brought me back from true despair. If I could bottle that and sell it to some of the people who have entered the horror-writing contest over which I’ve presided as judge, I would fucking do it in a heartbeat.
A crowd gathered then in my bathroom. A werewolf chewing on the hilt of a sword, a tragically deranged mountain man with a leather mask, succubi in training for their next fatal seduction, the things that live in the cellar, vampires, zombies, and even a boy with glasses giving a certain movie “three thumbs up” all pulled back my shower curtains curtains and gawked at me. The mountain man cocked his head to the side as he stared. Two naked succubi looked me up and down lasciviously. The little boy’s glasses glittered after he gave me the finger..
And I guffawed stupidly before coughing up the water that I’d suddenly inhaled.
Now I sit here in silent thanks for the existence of horror as a form of entertainment. It may be a weird thing to be grateful for, but I’ll toast to it all the same. Besides, I know that a certain someone who keeps showing up and laughing behind my back as I type this doesn’t drink…wine.