segment of an unfinished story


A bubble bath sounded nice. It was sunny outside, golden. I opened all the windows and put some John Coltrane on the stereo. The house lit up and breathed in.
Taking a bath is an art form.
The bathroom really must be exquisitely clean. All counter items must be hidden in the cabinets. Basin wiped and dried. Mirror sparkling. Towel neatly folded and placed nearby. A leave-in conditioner for your hair and 10-minute mask for your face applied before immersion. The water has to be incredibly hot. It should be hard to get in it at first and sting if you move too much. It should cause you to start sweating and turn your skin a bright shade of red. You have to soak, an additional half an hour after taking the mask off, if only to masturbate once. Maybe even twice.
And music. Sweet, fat, low jazz sounds.
I slid a foot into the water and started to lower myself in.

Yesterday morning, I had sliced a half of grapefruit and made him a toasted bagel, with coffee. He entered in a floaty sort of way, gliding up to me to kiss the back of my neck.
“Why did you leave last night, they were for you”, he said.
“You can’t be serious, “ I replied, “she was barely legal and her fingernail polish mauve," speaking of the brunette he had to have picked up in some cheesy literary book club that he attended in order to lull the Oprah fans into his Marquis de Sade realm. Librarians, wicked fun.
“It’s the first of July, Josie, your letter is on the bar," he said.
“Samantha,” I replied.
“On the bar, Josie.” He hadn’t called me by my birth name once in all the time I had known him.
The paper was a rough linen, his seal embellished it. I knew the inside would hold my instructions. My counter terms I had an hour to come up with and based upon last night’s mild irritation, I had already concocted an idea in my head. Twice a year we played these games of ours. We had been playing them together for the last thirteen.

My bath wasn’t enjoyable. I could only think of the computer screen I couldn’t watch and the email I wasn’t able to check. He had said noon and noon it would be less some natural disaster tore him from the task, and even then, I am sure he had a backup plan.
When it came, it was not at all what I had imagined it would be.

TO: sam.arma@edi.com
SUBJECT: spiders too

I do not like the new assignment. Mexico is hot. Remember when our air conditioning unit blew up that summer in Austin? The sweat poured from our bodies onto the sheets.
My hotel windows are large. I am on the second floor. There is a balcony with one wooden chair and a table put together with scraps of wood. No bars. The structure itself is suspect. I might fall through and land in the vegetable cart downstairs. You should paint that picture with carrots sticking out of my ass.
You popped the tires on my bicycle. We should have never burned the confessional booth. How will you repent your sins now? Saboteur.
I adore your tricks.
I miss the way your hair smells.


Bastard. I wrote an email back, erased it, wrote it again, changed its tone, pitch, style added a joke, added a quote, axed it in half, deleted all but one line, wasted another hour thinking about it and then decided to start working. He could wait. I had to accomplish something today.
He was right, we shouldn’t have burned the confessional booth. At the time it seemed like the next logical thing to do. It had taken so long to build. My sins would just have to build up for the next month, all piled on top of each other, writhing, trying to dominate the slippery pile of filth.
I called down the street to make a hair appointment.
I answered a couple of emails and wrote out some notes.
I enjoyed tea perched upon my windowsill; staring out into traffic wondering what the exterminators death count had reached.
I don’t know why I sent him away, we hadn't been apart for more than a few hours since the day we met. I needed to clear my head, I guess. It was feeling pretty foggy as of late. Maybe the days of the unrestrained had grown uncool. Maybe I had grown uncool. I knew I needed him out of the picture in order to make a decision; his presence slanted everything I thought or felt.
Yes, sending him away was the best thing I could have ever done.

“I have decided," I said.
“Tell me,” he replied.
“You have to go to Mexico. You have 12 hours to pack and be at the airport. I have already booked your flight,” handing him the printed tickets I said, “you can come home in 30 days. Write we will, but this time, from a distance of approximately 1000 miles. I am going to the gym.” I walked out of the apartment with my bag and bottle of water. He'd be gone before I returned.

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