The Afternoon Shower

It was his shower, and he wanted it just so.

The governor switch was disabled long ago and the shower head custom built for Kyle’s needs. A sharp sputter hissed as water began to surge like a high-pressured nozzle of a restaurant dishwasher; fast and efficient, ready to disinfect. He used the back of his hand to test the water and exclaimed with satisfactory anguish.

“Perfect.”

His backhand sizzled with sudden boils when he tested the water. This was what he needed.

Kyle tugs and tugs the saturated shirt over his head; it’s resilience is as if it was soaked from a warm downpour. His knee braced the vanity’s side so that he doesn’t topple over. The groan comes from within, deep and sorrowful as he pulls it free from neck and arms and it drops to the floor with a plop. Socks come next. Kyle needs to sit on the toilet seat to yank them off his moist skin and the gushy layers beneath. Six nails this time… must be a new record he thinks with cynicism.

Clean as you go is Kyle’s motto and he repeats those words with a sing-song cadence as he stuffs the cheap attire into a fresh trash bag. But he isn’t done and saves the pants for last. Mother taught him the trick of buying baggy and loose so he could step right out without leaving much of a mess and Father extended that knowledge with a hint to lay a section of poly down for easy cleanup. Kyle bundles the plastic together with his gooey sweats, folding it over from corner-to-corner until it resembled a truffle wrapper.

He hid the evidence under the sink and stepped in to what he needed so.

Teeth clamp down on his tongue, hard. His fist slammed against the shower’s sleek wall and he screams from his chest to his nose, breathing as if he was passing a kidney stone the size of an apple seed. A concerned voice asked from outside the door if he was alright and Kyle responds yes, yes I am.

I hope she doesn’t come in he thinks I really like this one and I pray that she just stays put.

Torment recedes as human skin slips down his true form. What first felt like thousands of tiny sharp fingers pinching and pulling at his body is now reduced to a bearable sensation, mild sunburn at best. The final wet clumps of flesh hit the shower floor and the water rises fast. He knows the drain has clogged and soon the scalding water will dissolve it all away like a bad dream bound to come around a week from now.

Some folks have mirrors in their bathrooms and Kyle has one, too. His hangs on the caddy underneath the shower head. He gazes into it with fierce admiration. Scaled and complete, absent of the costume he wears to conform and the wish of being accepted is washed away as the transformation begins. This is what he needed and he laments that it will soon be covered up again as the facade rushes from head to toe.

But something stalled and it wasn’t the process; the mirror reveals that his new layers of skin emerged as always and it was something new. That feeling of doomed inevitability sunk in, deep and relentless. Time slowed to a creeping saunter, mocking Kyle as the faint click reminded him that he forgot to lock the door.

“I’m in here,” he yells.

I know was the response and Kyle panics. Will she be the first? He asks himself. Mom and dad said I would have to kill someday to stay secret and I don’t want to—no, I don’t want to be like that.

“I’ll be out in a few minutes,”

“I can’t wait for you that long, baby.”

The outline of his girlfriend beyond the curtain is shadowed and lustful. He sees her strip down to panties and Kyle swallowed sorrow.

“Can you give me some damn privacy? Jesus-H-Christ.”

She ignored him and continues to advance. A slender hand pulls back the curtain and Kyle yards it from her.

I won’t be like them, even if it means I’ll be forever alone.

“I can’t look at your fat body. Why do you think we always have the lights off, huh? Just get out before I become sick.”

It worked. She pushes Kyle through the curtain, catching him off guard and he slips on the oily residue, falling straight to his rear.

“You’re a fucking asshole, you little-dicked fucker.”

She takes a few swipes at him before storming out of the bathroom and Kyle’s life. He turned the water off to listen. Her footsteps are thunder throughout the house and Kyle feels the weight of sadness settle in. He shuddered as the front door slammed and sobbed to the sounds of her screeching tires. A fool’s whispers suggested that he should try to make amends when she comes back for her belongings but Kyle listens only to the voices of horrid logic.

“Bag up her stuff and leave it outside. Lock the doors and close the blinds. Is that what you two want?”

“It’s only what we need of you, son,” they would say, and for Kyle, that would have to be enough.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

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