Steam rises off the bucket of water I’ve collected this evening; like most evenings. Even though the cold water runs into it, there is enough of the cloud to rise and fog my red glasses.
I gather up my soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I don’t take in my towel. I will come out for that. In the dim yellow light, I pull the full bucket to rest in front of me. Some of the water spills over. Splashing my feet. I wince. The water is scalding. I dip my hand in, let it sink to the bottom of the bucket. Deep inside. My hands can take it. They’re used to harsher things. The cold air caresses my back coaxing the goose bumps on my skin to rise higher. They stand at attention, anticipation rippling through my flesh.
I pick up my blue mug. Dip the plastic into the water. The first wave burns. Searing into my skin as it cascades down the broad expanse of my back. A thousand tiny fires lit and extinguished at the same time as the water travels between my breasts, right down to my toes where it splashes, merging into the bathroom floor. My skin prickles. It is unsure if it wants to remain in the cold or if it wants another painful wave. But it has no choice. The painful wave is what it gets. The heat of the water soothes the strange aches in my body. My shoulder that was aching all day, it’s like the heat pulls away at whatever is in there causing the dull incessant pain. It strips away at the grease and the grime of the day like a strong breeze, banishing a cloud. The mirror is fogged thanks to the heat on its otherwise cool surface.
Raw and pink. Tender, softened down by the water’s harsh training. My skin feels alive…