hair today, gone tomorrow

by Lance Manion
He remembers how they would argue about her long hair clogging the shower drain. Frustrated he would pull it out and leave it between the soap and the shampoo like a little totem of her wrongdoing. It would sit there for weeks at a time, a silent reminder to him that she would not be bullied (if that's what you want to call it) into changing her behavior, before he would feel the point was adequately made and flush it.

There isn't any hair in the drain these days.

It's important to the story that you know that she left him a year before she died of cancer. That might be clumsy to throw in there like that but if I went too far into the story without making those two points very clear you might mistake this for a love story.

He was wearing one of her towels when  he got the news from a friend. She had purchased the towels only a week before she walked out and he always wondered what kind of a twisted mind does that. He didn't resent the groceries or toiletries she walked away from but somehow the towels seemed like something you wouldn't be bringing into a house you would soon be departing.

He never changed the brand of detergent she used so when he would wrap himself up in one of the towels he could close his eyes he could pretend that she never left. Funny how both memories of her seem to be orientated around the shower. He would have to bring that up to his shrink during the next session.

So she left and then got cancer soon afterwards so it was hard to grieve when you're not sure how you feel about things.

In the end, during her last few weeks he asked to come over and visit and she was more than happy to have the company. It was important to him that she know he was doing it selfishly, that it wasn't some act of kindness or forgiveness. He just missed her and would take what he could get.

Even if that meant being the one to lift her fragile frame from the bed to the bathroom and back again. She noted that nobody carried her with the care he did. He was careful never to make eye contact during these moments, he could almost feel her shining eyes on him and that was bad enough.

Her towels smelled the same as the ones hanging on the rack back in the house they use to share, he noticed this as he wrapped her up in one after a shower.

She was so light, the cancer seemed to be eating her up from the inside, so he was left to grapple in the dark, after she had slipped off for a quick nap like she did so many times near the end, with what exactly it is that makes us who we are. What we are. A bit of a grey area compared to inanimate objects. If you drop your Pet Rock and it breaks into two pieces in a sense all you've done is create two Pet Rocks. Or you can throw away one of them and keep the bigger one tucked in your pocket without feeling you've lost anything.

She was so light, the memory of being taught how bird bones were so much lighter than ours and that's what allowed them to fly fluttered through his head as he gently lowered her back down on the bed. She wasn't going to be flying. She wasn't going anywhere.

Her final words were said through white lips with crust in the corners and were as follows: "One cold vibe won't stop this here boogie." Had she rehearsed this in her head or did it just come to her? While not much of a comfort to him he knew that she would have been happy that her last words were pretty cool.

In the end he was only too happy to see her go. One minute she was there behind her eyes and the next she wasn't and then the next she was back in his pocket.

He wanted to miss the woman that had left him, not the one who deteriorated before his eyes. The one that the disease had stolen from him. The cancer had messed everything up. He didn't like missing someone who longer existed. A ghost that had stolen all the anger and angst and beauty of a horrible break-up to a wonderfully horrible girl. He wanted to miss her but know he might still run into her years down the road.

The way he missed her now was all wrong.

He remembers how they would argue about her long hair clogging the shower drain. Frustrated he would pull it out and leave it between the soap and the shampoo like a little totem of her wrongdoing. It would sit there for weeks at a time, a silent reminder to him that she would not be bullied (if that's what you want to call it) into changing her behavior, before he would feel the point was adequately made and flush it.

There isn't any hair in the drain these days.
Lance is the author of 3 short story collections and a frequent contributor to various online flash fiction sites and anthologies. He blogs daily on his website www.lancemanion.com and has recently retired from his career in mixed martial arts to focus on his study of pottery. He is looking forward to April 2nd, the first annual National Sleep With An Ugly Person Day. Hopes are high.

© 2013, Lance Manion