She sat in the bottom of her tiny shower, her eyes swollen and painted with mascara, streaming down her cheeks and dropping onto the tarnished white tile. She had no idea how long she’d been in there: a few hours, maybe? She clutched her knees, marred with bruises. The water was cleansing, calming to her- while she’d always been somewhat skeptical of astrology, she was a Pisces, a fish, born by the sea, and water had always been a source of comfort to her. Her body was exhausted; she’d been awake for three straight days now. She just wanted someone to carry her, to take her to her bed and hold her until she fell asleep. She flashed back years ago, to a hotel room in Manhattan where he’d held her, crying and drunk, until she’d fallen to sleep in his arms. Where was he now? Why the fuck hadn’t he come to rescue her?
The water continued to pour over her head, like a downpour in a storm. She remembered the days they’d spent walking in the grey and the rain in Glasgow, happier times. She clutched her legs to her chest, tighter now. She tried to will herself to sleep, to come down from the vast amounts of cocaine she’d spent the last five hours inhaling. She took another swig of the Pabst that sat next to the shower, cringing as the warm beer slid down her throat, still feeling the chemical after burn of the drugs in the back of her sinuses. She tried to stand up then thought better of it and instead reached and turned up the water’s temperature to nearly scorching. It was almost five in the morning and she could see the sun rising behind the foggy glass brick window, hear the birds beginning to chirp in the trees outside.
Her pale skin looked paper thin- with spiderwebs of blue veins stretching through it. She’d always been slender, but now her bones seemed to press angrily against her skin, like a canvas stretched too tightly- ready to tear and collapse at the slightest provocation. Her collarbones protruded sharply from her chest: holding tiny pools of water in the open space behind them. She traced the cracks in the tile underneath her with her fingers, gaunt and pruned. Slowly, she pulled herself half out of the shower; the water was still beating down over her back and legs as she grasped her cell phone and frantically scrolled through her contacts. She selected his name and looked at the number. She couldn’t telephone him. He was an ocean away. He was happy, adjusted, he’d moved on. Here she was, in a dingy basement apartment with nothing but old feelings and a recreational drug habit.
It had been years since she’d seen him, over half a decade now. He’d occasionally send her the odd email from time to time, usually during peculiar hours when perhaps he’d had a few too many drinks: the typos in his ordinarily well-executed writing were a dead giveaway. It was, she’d decided, the international equivalent to a ‘drunk dial’. They were roughly four thousand miles apart: she in Chicago, in a working class Mexican neighborhood on the south side known for ‘starving artists’ like herself, and he in a rather affluent area of North London with his white-collar office job in the city. Where she had floundered and bounced around endlessly, he had stayed there, stable- unchanging.
She could never bring herself to tell him that she was still desperately in love with him: he was in a relationship, and he was, he maintained, very happy and doing just fine. The last thing she needed to do was place her burdens on him again, as she had in the past. She’d tried, through the emails when they arrived, to subtly suggest that she still had feelings for him, that she still missed him, but she couldn’t bring herself to outright tell him and she knew that subtleties were nearly always lost on him- he had always been terribly direct. It would have felt strange saying it- she had been the one who had left London, left him, perhaps there was bitterness in his heart towards her. Yet there had been many times she had wanted to telephone him, just to hear his soft, lulling voice on the other end- and she would pick up her phone and scroll to his number, staring at it, but she would never call him.
She abruptly turned off the water and sat, quickly growing cold, shivering, then shaking violently. There was no insulation left in her starving body, and the cold air of the bathroom seemed to descend upon her rapidly. The morning sun was streaming through her windows as she lifted herself up, squeezed the water from her hair and left the bathroom. She slowly passed through her nearly empty apartment, leaving her phone on the kitchen counter, and slid, still naked and cold, into her bed. There was no one there to hold her, and there never would be. She pulled the sheets over her head; they were soaked with water, stained with the remnants of her expensive mascara, and smelled of salt and soap. She sobbed quietly for a few minutes, then drifted off into a dreamless sleep.