Walking into the bathroom, I turned on the faucet. I watched the water splash against the porcelain. The drops scurried and hopped about the lip of the drain, reaching for the sides in a nearly desperate attempt to pull themselves up before succumbing to the physics and falling in. I stood there focused on the violence of the water, while the invisible feelings of anxiety, produced by last night’s nightmare, slowly crept in. Each version of the nightmare began, shortly after the phantasmal deed had been committed. In each version, I witnessed just enough of the crime to know what happened, in order to simultaneously carry the guilt of the crime and the burden of discovery.
Looking into the mirror, I squeezed some suds from the towel into the basin. They clustered and pushed away from the sides, before releasing their viscous rainbows into nothingness once popped. I approached bathing from a ritual perspective. It was needed in the physical and spiritual sense; an identity cleansing, if you will. It was a way for me to remove myself, the remnants of my identity, in order for me to assume the persona I wore during the day.
Bang! Bang! Bang! I stopped without moving a muscle.
Bang! Bang! Bang! I swallowed hard.
Bang! Bang! Bang! This time I reacted by running toward the door to see if It had finally come for me.
Bang! Bang! Bang! “Hey man! That’s not my apartment.” I heard someone say in the hallway.
“What?” Replied a slurred voice. I looked through the peephole to see a short Bird, with molested feathers leaning on my apartment door with his face.
“Move your drunk ass down two doors. You looney ass Bird.” I heard another Bird say. “Last time I take you out drinking with me.”
I exhaled and leaned my head against the door for a few moments, before I returned back to bathroom.
I held the towel, swollen with water, and squeezed the liquid over my arm. Rivulets of water strung themselves along the length. Looking at the coat rack across the hallway, I admiringly gazed upon the beautiful, black feathers. Walking over to it, I slid my hand down the length and felt the silkiness of the sleeve; marveling at the artistry, the attention to detail in the tailoring. The seams of the suit had been sown underneath as to not show the stitching. Each feather was waxed separately and shined in the morning light.
I exhaled with self satisfaction. Who knew, when this journey began, I would be wearing the suit with pride. It was my day pass, communicating to the cultural antibodies that I belonged when they spotted me pulling out of the garage complex, walking into my apartment, or riding the trails. Putting in more time in the suit, putting in overtime, I ignored the feelings of loss regarding what I had given up a while ago.
I slipped on the suit. Tugging at the fingertips, I loosened the flesh covering my arms. I adjusted the cowl to see more easily, brushing aside the feathers near my face. I was immediately reminded of the heat inside the suit; stifling hot and uncomfortable. Even when I’m not wearing the suit, I can feel its heat, taste it, and smell it’s now familiar odor all around me, all the time.
I walked over to the mirror and spread out the feathers, peacock’ing myself. “Lovely set of feathers you have there.” Said Samantha. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d bet you’d become a Bird… if you could.”
I glared at her and she laughed in return.
“Too afraid to be yourself, huh?” She said with a snarky tone. “Too afraid you won’t taste success just being you. You’ve been gassed to believe that everything that can possibly hold you back from success is an obstacle…even who and what you truly are.” She looked out the window. “Your biggest problem is your complicit agreement with what defines success. You need to come out of the closet and embrace who you are…a human. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a Bird, but a human.”
I snapped back ferociously, “What the hell would you know about being human? A Bird, who chose to throw away your place!”
“I didn’t choose anything. I simply am, what I am and I chose to be me and live freely.”
“Free or dead?” I replied sarcastically.
“Free…” She replied. Her eyes rested on mine.
Turning my attention away from her, I fiddled with a loose thread hanging beneath the left armpit of the suit. It was getting old around the edges; a bit frayed around the wrists and tearing partially near the corners of the eyes. I looked into the mirror and smirked. I’ve always kept my secret, figuratively speaking, under buttoned jacket to avoid curious eyes, all meticulously hidden behind a fraudulent smile and cheery eyes. Dusting off the left shoulder, I headed for the door.
Grabbing my hat off the coat rack, I kissed my Jesus piece and tucked it inside the suit. I wondered aloud if today, would be the day when they’d come for me as well, come banging on my door, beating it down, to finally carry me away.
Sometimes, I think to myself, it would almost be a relief.
(C) Copyright 2017