I awoke to sunshine bursting through my home-made curtain. This floral flannel sheet did little to keep sunlight out and had no regard for how late I had stayed up the night before. I rolled out of bed and walked, half asleep, to the bathroom. The mirror was dirty. Spots of toothpaste foam and other smudged decorated the mirror as though it were a canvas on which to throw any number of abstract designs. I lifted the toilet seat. The sight of the dirty toilet bowl served as another reminder that today would be a good day to do some cleaning. After relieving myself, I washed my hands and dried them and slid back into bed. Cleaning could wait. There was still unfinished business in the dream world that lived just under my blanket. I pulled a second pillow over my face as means of blocking the sun from my eyes: A map of the United States – Texas seems misshapen. But it is right. Of course it is. This is a map. A coworker had told me about this place.
I awake again. I feel guilty for having gone back to sleep. There is so much to do today. Sleeping late only makes me feel tired. I roll out of bed and go into the bathroom. The mirror is still dirty. The toilet bowl is still dirty. I flush and move to stand in front of the mirror. “I love you.”, I say to my reflection. It feels good to remind myself. I need to clean the mirror. I need to clean the toilet.
I go to the kitchen and pour a bowl of cereal. I sit in front of my computer and watch Netflix shows as I eat. an episode ends and I am still hungry. I pour another bowl and start another episode. These shows, although distracting, do not truly fulfill me. I search Facebook for some sort of video or interaction to end my session on the computer in a positive way. Now I am 22 videos deep in a thread of videos. these videos leave me wanting. But, perhaps the next one will give me what I need to feel content.
It is afternoon. I feel guilty for waisting half my day. The bathroom calls to me. Still, one more video couldn’t hurt. Instant gratification and the Id rule my behavior. It is 2:58pm. I still haven’t done anything productive. I feel sick – dizzy. Could I clean today if I wanted to? I will. I go back to Netflix. I will listen as I scrub the toilet. I hit play. I stand and blood rushes to my head. I feel as though I will fall over, but I don’t.
I whirl the brush around the inside of the toilet as I sit on the bathtub’s edge. this exercise takes little concentration and I am able to follow the storyline of the episode playing from the next room. It is a distraction. This constant entertainment enables me to avoid spending time by myself – with myself. I decide to let the bleach in the toilet soak for a moment and I move to the mirror.
I keep all kinds of cleaning supplies under my bathroom sink, but rarely use them. Crouched now, I find Windex and paper towels under the sink. I spray the mirror and wipe it clean with a neatly folded paper towel. I notice a black dot in the spot I had just wiped and go over it again. The dot remains. I scratch at it with my fingernail. The dot remains.
I need something stronger. I retrieve the 5 gallon gas can and a towel from my garage. I wipe at the dot with the gasoline soaked towel. It smudges. The towel it turning black. I would seem to be making progress. I scrub further and the black dot is now a black streak across the mirror. This will no do. any guest would surely be displeased at the site of this mess. I find a clean spot on the towel, soak it in gasoline, and start scrubbing again, this time in an upward motion.
This black body mocks me as it grows in size and darkness. I am only making things worse. still, I am in too deep to stop. I must prove I am better than this. My fingertips are black, almost the entire mirror is streaked with black, and my towel, once green, now soaked in gasoline and completely black.
I cary the towel to the laundry room and hear a knock at the door. I place the towel in the washing machine and turn on the sink with my elbow to wash my hands. I pick up the bar of soap and hurriedly scrub my hands. The soap is now black and my hands are no less black than before. “Just a minute!”, I call to whomever is at my front door. I scrub harder, looking for this layer of black to wipe off the bar of soap. Frantically now, I peel at the bar with my fingernails, looking for a sign of the once orange color of this soap.
Another knock at the front door. “Just a minute!!!”, I say with irritation. I drop the bar of soap in the sink and hurry to the door. I look out the peephole to find no one waiting on the other side. I breathe heavily as I stare out the peephole. “Good.”, I think to myself, “Better to maintain this desolation than have someone see this mess”.
Looking back toward the laundry room, I see a trail of black droplets on the carpet. I had better try to get that up before it stains. I soak the carpet in vinegar. I need to let the vinegar set for a few moments. I sit on the couch and drift off to sleep. I awake to find the black color has affected the vinegar. The black spots on my carpet are now twice the size they were and just as black as ever.
I see through my peripherals the blackness has spread up may arms as well. I look down and watch it crawl up my skin – millimeter by millimeter. I scratch frantically at the shinny reflective coat, attempting to peal it off my skin. What would any visitor think?
I peer out the peephole again. There is no one there. “Good. Better to maintain this desolation than have someone see this mess”. The black crawls up the walls, spreading across the floor and my body, quickly consuming the interior of my house and everything inside. A knock at the door. The black is now coating my lungs. It is a part of me. But it has always been a part of me. I’m suffocating. I inhale, but no oxygen reaches my bloodstream. I check to make sure the door is locked just before I lose consciousness. “Better that than have someone see this mess”.