IT IS bath time. She slams the bathroom door shut, and removes her battered clothes, her protective covers. And then she scrubs her body and hair, expressionless, working routinely and mindlessly. Yes, expressionless – that’s her favourite mode of camouflage.
And then she removes her makeup; the colours she smears on her wan face while she carefully chooses the expression she wants to wear everyday (putting that into practice is another thing altogether), before she steps out into the big, big world outside.
Mandatory, routine bath time always leave her the space to contend with her own thoughts, naked and undisturbed. She can’t help but think she is the lowest form of life on Earth. A lowlife, through and through. (Then again, who isn’t?) She despises her own inconsistency; oh the way she chatted with the kindly Kate, an acquaintance – a “business contact” almost – that day, at that cosy little cafe. That permanent, guiltless smile plastered across her face! (She was asking Kate for a favour, of course). Yet her demons – always waiting for the chance – could rise up within her in seconds, consuming her whole. Once left alone with Ben, this salacious hulk of an acquaintance who made her squirm in her own skin, a steely glare immediately replaced her plastic smile. She made the most feeble of efforts to hide her strong distaste. Really, she was dying to scratch the undersides of that quaint little wooden chair she was sitting on with her nails. She wished fervently that they were on different planets now. What did she do to deserve this – the privilege to dine at the same table with him, alone? This was the first time she ate in silence with a companion. The deafening silence scared her, but such feelings of unease and sheer repulsion were not unfamiliar. They just manifested themselves in varying degrees of intensity, depending on the person she has to face.
But not all people make her skin crawl. Call her frivolous, but she finds the demons rise only when (unattractive, mostly) members of the opposite sex make wretched attempts to inch closer to her. Why, she’s used to solitude. She likes it even; the freedom and predictability it gives. No cause for drama and demons; no need to fight fires. Clean and untainted, just as she’d be, emerging from her bath.
Slightly more assured, she wipes herself dry, get dressed and steps out of the bathroom to continue living her life quietly.