Type: Short Story
The Calmine family hasn’t had hot water in their decaying mansion for the better part of the summer. September has blown in with a cold and resilient push and the icy liquid pouring over Chloe’s skin now feels like porcupine quills being thrust into her with obnoxious ferocity. She sits in the narrow porcelain basin, the coating of which is chipped and bubbling on its sides. The water runs like an angry waterfall from the corroding copper faucet, splashing onto her naked legs like a person who constantly perforates spit as they speak. She reaches over to the men’s Gillette on the side of the tub. She holds the cylinder can in her hand and shakes it like a silent maraca, feeling the liquid within it stop splashing as it foams. Chloe presses down on the release button and lets a large dollop of foam into her pruning hand. She avoids the splashing water with great care as she spreads the white foaming cream over her legs, which are bent to her chest in the narrow tub. She wraps her fingers around the thin base of the triple blade razor and prepares herself mentally for this dreaded experience. Shaving with cold water is like pushing a lawn mower over a bristle patch. The goose bumps on her white skin create a rocky path for the razor. She rakes it across her skin. Instantly the white creamy blanket on her leg is spattered with a pink explosion, a long stream that lets off to different paths. She moves in sections. She starts with her calves. She tries to take the strokes in small, less painful sections. The tiny, freezing child rinses the tiny dark hairs and cream mashed in between the three blades away with the tumbling water from the burned gold faucet, again it splashes, and again she winces, the goose bumps growing. She takes special care around her knees, always a minefield for stinging knicks. She imagines the future ingrown hairs that will appear on her thighs from the bumps and wonders why this misery is worth the trouble. The male race has no idea of a girls’ pain. She rinses away what is left of the snowy patches of Gillette. Knicks, once opened, continue to seep blood, long trails of red, warm liquid down her legs, as porcelain white as the narrow, chipped basin she sits in, as cold as the furious water, almost freezing as it splashes and sputters.