August 7, 2010
This is not my toothbrush.
I’m pretty sure about that. Mine was short and blue and the bristles were bent down and mashed from the rage that had cooked through me in the asylum. And that’s where I left it. This one… this one is a bright and vibrant red with long bristles outside and short within, cheek scrapers on the back of the racily-angled head, a wear indicator telling me it’s only a week or two old, a slightly flexible grip and go-faster stripes.
Got to be Ian’s. Which means I’m at home.
Home. That’s a shiny, new feeling.
Feeling slightly guilty, I use Ian’s toothbrush anyway.
Stepping into the shower, the first belt of water is hot enough to cook lobster and turns me roughly the same colour. Swearing like an orderly on night shift, I turn the knob back until the flow gets cooler, nudging it with only the lightest of touches. San Paro… hot and sticky as hell, filled with fights, flights and… other things beginning with F that cling to my skin until the water washes them down to memories. Cool and gentle, I let it cascade over me, resting my forehead against the tiled wall until the pain in my head goes away, freeing me to luxuriate in the warm, green scents of soap and shampoo.
Clean. It’s like a holy feeling. Yet I dry myself like I’m trying to sand something off my flesh. Something old, too deep in my skin to ever really go away.
I wonder idly what it is.
A voice from the other room calls my name. I poke my head round the door, peering timidly round the apartment. It seems empty.
There’s no sound but the incessant hum of the motorway in the distance.
Still nothing. Just a little wooden cross resting against the harbour wall. I’m alone.
I go back into the bedroom and start pulling on clothes, trying to hide the knot of anxiety in my chest. Halfway through dressing, I give in to temptation and pluck Ian’s hoodie from the laundry basket, hugging it to my chest and inhaling the scent of him, rubbing my cheek against the soft fabric of the hood. For a little while, I curl up with it, enjoying the quiet, the comfort, letting the din inside my head subside.
The smell of bacon and eggs nudges me out of my reverie, suddenly savagely hungry. Life is about to go on.