By Clare Tascio - Feb 11, 2019
My roommate takes too many showers. Every time I see her she is getting out of the shower. “I’m filthy,” she says and kind of smiles. “I’m filthy,” she says, and blushes. Our bathroom is always humid and warm. It is like a damp white-tiled organ in the apartment. The warm pumping heart of the apartment. It smells like coconut and lime and hibiscus. I look in the shower but never find a single hair. “I’m filthy,” she says. “You smell nice,” I try to tell her. The sound of the shower is constant. I don’t notice it unless it’s off. When I bring a man home I say something like: “This is the kitchen, this is the living room, this is my roommate in the shower.” I have started to notice mold. Behind her ears when she pulls back her hair. Under the line of her jaw. In the creases of her palms when she reaches past me. The bathroom pulses and steams. I see the dark fuzzy spots in the sweet wrinkles of her eyes. You can stop this now, I want to tell her. But what do I know? It has never happened to me. I’m telling you it has never happened to me. So what do I know?
The Scary Story
It was such a scary story that the children stopped growing. Oh, they aged. They aged quicker than any person growing up could age. They started babbling for canes and wheelchairs before they could eat solid food. But they stayed small. Low to the ground. The story was just too scary. They screamed and wailed. Eventually we had to dig holes into the floorboards to make them what they wanted. Now we keep baby monitors inside their little coffins. We are kept awake at night by the sounds of tapping and breathing under foot. My wife rubs her belly distractedly. She keeps insisting she has forgotten something, and cradles bundles of bananas I bring home. I keep bringing them home. I don’t remember why. Neither my wife nor I like bananas. But sometimes in the night I sleepwalk and I wake up squeezing a banana into a pulp, the syrupy goo all over my hands, wet and glistening, and I hear something burble underfoot, I hear something giggle and coo and I am so scared—it is so very scary—I have forgotten even the story, I just want it to stop. I want to stop growing.
ARTWORK BY THEODOR KITTELSEN