The Other Side of the Curtain

You are taking a shower.

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It’s not the type of shower you take before a job interview, maybe aiming for your cleanliness to impress somebody or someone supposedly worthy of impressing, nor is it the type of shower you take after a long workout at the gym or after a jog, or after whatever it is that applies to you. No, you’re in your bathroom right now, standing under the soothing beam of hot water with wisps of steam spiraling off of your back, because you’ve got nothing better to do tonight, and you like that squeaky-clean feeling before hitting the hay, and, although this isn’t your first shower today, at least you can sleep easy knowing you’re cleansed of the day’s many stresses.

Soap.

Shampoo.

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It’s all there, but you don’t so much as touch it.

For now you’re just letting the water’s steam filter through your pores, and enjoying the simplicity of it all.

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The lights go out.

Startled, your feet squeal on the floor of the shower and you pause to make sure the sound was from your own.

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The sound of water hitting the floor in the dark.

You feel as if you’re not alone in the room. Which is impossible, because you’re the only one in the house.

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The sound of the switch had been unmistakable.

You stay under it, under the water, your one and only landmark. Feeling around, your hands meet the slippery shower tiles, and you feel like a mime trapped in a blank box as you fumble for the adjacent wall, then grab the curtain, finally something real, something you can touch that’s now in front of you and will stay static as you reclaim your bearings.

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Outside of the shower, something starts choking.

You abruptly stop breathing. Strain to hear. It’s a gut-wrenching cough that wheezes in and out, and your hand freezes before recoiling back to your torso in shock. And in the middle of the bathwater rain noisily splashing by your feet, you hear its footsteps inching closer as it struggles to breathe. The thump of pads on the floor stepping closer. You can do nothing but press your back against the wet wall behind you in paralysis, to the point where the sounds are less than a foot away from where you remember the curtain to be, at your own eye level.

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That’s when the lights come on and the choking stops. You shut off the water. All is quiet and you look to either side just in case, remembering all the horror movies you’ve seen in your entire life at this moment. Not a sound except the gurgling of the drain at your toes, sucking down the last of the water calmly like it had all been in your head and none of it had happened.

You’re standing there, dripping wet and naked, when you realize you’ve got to step out and meet whatever’s there, waiting on the other side of the curtain.

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