Ablution . . . heavy slide. Goodbye.

Water Lilies by Monet

Heaving her limbs up the stairs, leg before arm, the other and the other. Spine in innumerable parts, each needing a different muscular labor. Drenched as she is in the weight of sweat-soaked tights, leotard, leg-warmers, socks, shirt . . . she has to peel and pull at the wraps to get naked.

The mirror in the shower room confirms the paring, the effort to the ascetic. Air swills the surface of her skin, beginning to cool her, each muscle speaking louder, a crescendo of ache–neck, back, thighs, feet. Leading with a naked toe into the shower stall, wrenching the handle to the extreme. The burn of water down her shoulders flooding shuddering peace down deep to her knees. Face tilting to the flow, scorching cheekbones, temples, breasts, hair fled back out of confusion, into rivered clarity, piling down hips’ central structure. Shampooing begins. Moving her head in a figurey-eight, timeless caress of warming coils. Lathering lingers finger-like streams softly down her cheeks.

He calls up the stairs.

Stepping out, leaning around the corner at the top of the stairs; he can only see how eternal is her head, neck, coils easing down brow, jaw, cheek. Heavy slide. Goodbye.

Toe stepping back into the shower, retreating to what she had before. Yet . . . the flood, the spill of burning eyes, quakes rippling and breaking open a stream of deep cough pulsing out. Every crevice plunging with water. As if tears were running down her whole body.

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