by Janet Koops
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
The soap was oval and translucent, the type her grandparents had her use and the smell alone made her feel pure. Well, maybe not pure but at least clean. If it wasn’t for the scent Darlene didn’t think she’d really care what brand she used but the mild spicy smell made the whole process seem more serious and dignified.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Done. Darlene turned off the water with her right index finger. As a lefty, she let her right hand take all the chances. She took a deep breath, not bad, getting out of here at four times. Relaxing slightly she reached out and grabbed the kids’ towel. The kids’ towel was damp, a little bit smelly even, and Darlene couldn’t even imagine the number of germs on that thing. She had her own towel, away from the others. She didn’t make this kind of mistake. No, this was a rookie mistake. Her patterns were way too established.
Ten minutes later she left the bathroom, the right towel having been used. Massaging in hand cream she sat down on the floor behind the armchair. Her safe zone. In her safe zone she could cry. In her safe zone she could hope. If only, she wished, I could just get away. If only. She would add it to the stack of if onlys that loomed beside her now. She longed to trample them down and escape.
Jumping up she grabbed a pen and paper and wrote I’ve gone, paused then added out. I’ve gone out. Leaving the note on the stairs she put on her shoes, not the heels, but the comfortable ones for walking. They walked her out of the house and into the car and she drove away.