As I stood in the shower, the heat from crying beat into my face. The tears still streaked down my face. The hot water poured over my body, while my face rested against the cold white tile. I hated the way I felt.
My roommate had talked me into going to this party. Curling up in bed with a good book sounded like a better plan to me, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I just couldn’t stop thinking of something that had happened months ago.
I could still hear the conversation in my head as if it happened just moments ago. “Oh, yeah,” his voice dropped. “Well, I was with Molly on Sunday night. She told me that she loved me.”
“I can’t come visit you because another girl loves you? That doesn’t make sense. You love me. You told her that right?” I knew his answer. He never let me meet Molly. He always said that she went away on the weekends and he had just said that he was at her house on a Sunday.
“Yes, she knows that I love you.” I could tell that he wasn’t done. I just knew he was going to say that horrid B word. “But I love Molly too. I’m just so confused right now.”
That was months ago and the coldness inside me wouldn’t let me get over it. I would have given anything to feel something else. I would have given anything to be someone else. I wasn’t sure if I could feel anything else but the emptiness that filled my heart. There was always some excuse. Molly was his best friend. I wanted to meet her. She had been a friend of his from before my time. He always talked about her. Molly this and Molly that. He always told me that she was not a threat. She was asexual, he said. I had things that she just didn’t have. That she would never have. In my head, she was beautiful. She was blond. She was everything I wasn’t. She was a waif. She had beautiful brown eyes.
They fit into the same world. He and I would always clash. He was younger than me. He showed me his world, opening my eyes to many things that I would have not otherwise experienced. People just didn’t see us together. He was a cart boy at grocery store, whereas I was a college educated claims examiner. I never saw us as an odd match, but in my head, Molly was always a better match. She always made me uneasy. I met everyone, but her.
The steam from the shower just made my face grow hotter. I had to get ready for this party. I really didn’t want to go to this party. They were all the same. I always went and thought I’d have fun but knew that I’d just get hit on by guys with girlfriends. I couldn’t be someone else’s Molly. I just couldn’t. The suds ran down my back as I started to wash my hair.
Sending him that email that Friday before it all happened, I just couldn’t help myself. Something about the way the words pulsed through my headphones, I knew that I had to type out this song. He’s probably going to get annoyed that I’m sending him another email. Work had been so boring that day. The words just flowed from headphones out of my fingers… I’ve been afraid of changing because I’ve built my life around you … this song was speaking to me on so many levels today and I just couldn’t figure out why. I quickly hit send.
In few hours, I’d be at the party and I knew that I’d probably feel silly that I had been so against it. It would be just a few hours of talking to people and being out of the apartment and that I really needed that right now. My roommate had talked me into going but I still wasn’t really feeling it. She knew that I probably would just spend the weekend holed up in my room either reading a book or playing with my computer. Since we broke up, I had pulled away from everyone in my life. Watching TV with my roommate even drove me crazy. She’d want to talk about her boyfriend or something that I had no interest in hearing about. If her boyfriend was there, that made it even worse. I just wanted to scream for him to get out. I was in pain and didn’t need to see them being a couple just a few feet from my face. It was easier to be in my room than it was to deal with people. I couldn’t get over what had happened. I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to get over what had happened.
He had been my best friend and he had been the person that I had told my inner secrets and now he wouldn’t even talk to me. The day after we broke up, I had driven out to see him thinking that I would just talk to him. I had wanted to hug him and tell him that everything would be okay. I thought that I would get some closure on our relationship.
I can remember the car ride out there vividly. I planned on giving him a hug and telling him to take his time. I understood his confusion. I didn’t really understand but I figured even if I weren’t his girlfriend, at least I’d still be his best friend. I left a message saying that I was driving out there and to expect me in about four hours. I bought two packs of cigarettes, one for me and one for him. A peace offering, I told myself. I got in my car and drove. I sang along to the mix tape that he made just like I did on every car trip out to him. The long drive slowly disappeared as Semisonic poured from my speakers. With the windows open, smoking, singing and struggling not to cry were my main concern. I tossed my cigarette out the window; I swore it flew back in, so I pulled over. With no sign of the cigarette in the back, I pulled back onto the turnpike. Singing along with the tape, tears started to flow down my cheeks. I wasn’t certain if it was the song or the situation or some odd combination of both but the tears were just openly streaming.
It wasn’t until I tried to stop the crying that I realized the car was filling with smoke and that it was what was causing my eyes to sting and tear. The backseat was slowly being eaten by smoldering flames that I didn’t realize possible. I pulled over and rummaged through my car to find something to put out the flames. I saw a discarded half-empty water bottle on the floor. I grabbed that and extinguished the flames. I looked at the carnage. Some junk mail, some random pieces that I had written on scraps, my favorite black cardigan. I should have taken it as a sign to turn around, to cut my losses and go home, but no, I had to talk to him. I persisted on.
When I had pulled into the driveway that day, I saw that his car wasn’t there. I walked up to the door of the house anyway and knocked. His mom answered the door; opening it barely enough to poke her head out. “He’s not here.” Her voice sounded dead. “He’s with her now; move on with your life, he’s not worth it.” For all I know, he could have been standing behind the door that she wouldn’t open. She was closing me out. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I was lost in my own head. She didn’t believe that her own son was good enough for me. I wasted all this time and he wasn’t even here.
His mom and I were never particularly close but I always got the feeling that she knew I was good for her son. I was going to get him out of that funk. I had ambition. I had strength. And she was shutting me out. Maybe she saw things I didn’t see. Maybe she knew more than me. She wouldn’t even open the door more than a crack like I was a threat. Hell, the first or maybe the second I had met her, she made his bed so that we could go sleep together in his room and I felt that I couldn’t even ask to use her restroom.
As I leaned my cheek against the cold tile of the shower, I started to shave my legs. I felt the blade drag against my legs. For some reason, even in December, I felt cleaner after a good shave. I had no hopes in anyone actually seeing my freshly shaven legs but it always made me feel better.
Looking down at my legs, I felt as though I was in some far off land. There were little rivers of blood streaming down my legs. I hadn’t even felt the cuts. I just kept dragging the blade over and over and over again. Maybe I should have kept going to see my therapist. Maybe I should leave my apartment more often. Pull, tear and gush. I dropped the razor on the shower floor and just watched the blood moving ever so slowly down my legs. This felt better than talking. I could feel the tension flow out of my body. The tears stopped rolling down my cheeks. The reddish water running down my legs mesmerized me in ways that I hadn’t thought possible.
The cuts weren’t deep. They were just enough to bleed. They were just enough for the blood to slowly seep out and hypnotize me in their power. I felt the heat of my anger and the coldness of my empty heart pour out of my legs. I wanted to sit down on the floor of the shower, but the cramped confinement of the shower stall wouldn’t allow it. I just curled up, hugged my knees and rested my forehead on the tiles. My wounds pressed up against my chest. My tears flowed down and mixed with the blood. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this before.
It felt as though a powerful leech had pulled Molly’s venom from my legs. I got out of the shower and started getting ready. I sat on the small bed and gently touched the small scabs that were starting to appear. I could feel the pain at last. I rubbed my legs briskly, freeing the scabs from my skin and watched the blood bubble to surface again. It seemed as though nothing else mattered now. The blood was letting it all out. Molly was gone. He was gone. The pain was gone. A power surged through my body up from my thighs like I hadn’t felt in such a long time. There was a gentle knocking on the door.
“Yeah, I know. Just give me a minute.” The words escaped my mouth. I needed to get ready in a hurry. Spotting my jeans on the floor, I picked them up and started to drag them up my legs. The denim scraped up over the shallow cuts. Warm tears welled up in my eyes. It was such a relief to feel this pain. It was so much better than the usual dull empty pain I usually feel. As I buttoned my jeans, I could feel a grin spreading across my face. The physical pain had overcome my emotional pain. I felt a power rising up through my thighs. Suddenly I wanted to go this party. In that shower, I gained some odd sense of power and I felt it throbbing through my temples. I found a shirt and pulled it over my head.
Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, the redness of my face and the sparkle of my eyes made my face have an odd beauty. Other people wouldn’t be able to see that so I needed to fix myself up. My newfound power that I felt inside needed to reflect on my outside; the beauty that I found needed to shine through. I pulled out my hair dryer and start to dry out my hair. Smirking at myself in the mirror, I applied some shadow.
“You almost ready?” my roommate asked as she pulled my door open a bit. There was a sense of urgency in her voice.
“Yeah, I just had a hard time motivating myself to get going tonight.” I popped up from under my bed with my shoes in hand. Pulling my shoes, I followed my roommate down the hall.
” Well, you look nice. Maybe you’ll have some luck tonight.” She said as she fished her keys from her purse.
“Not that it matters. I’m not going to press my luck tonight. I feel too good to ruin it with that kind of hope.”
In the car on the way to the party, I thought back over those few days with a clarity that I never really had before. That email and that song… can I handle the seasons of my life… but time makes you bolder … in those few days, I lost my boyfriend, my friend and myself. For months, I’ve wandered around as a shell of myself. Could I have really found myself in a shower? Did I really I care since I felt so much better? Not really.