She was peeling off all the petals. All the things that could be peeled. And they fell to the ground where they built up around her feet, a colorful mulch. At the end of each day, she would sweep them all up and throw away handful after handful, the colorful debris piling up in the trashcan. 

Afterwards she went home to the quiet and the calm and the dark. Her kitchen counters were always cool and smooth and she always stood there with both palms pressing into them, she could feel the heat from her burning skin being absorbed by the stone. Then came more peeling—this time her clothes, and she let them fall to the ground like the petals, and dug fresh clothes out of the lowest drawer to stretch over her sticky body. 

She knew she should take a shower. She could visualize how her body would hum with the feeling of being clean, how the soap would take her sweat down the drain and she would fall asleep with her damp hair wrapped up. If she made those first three steps to the bath taps it would be the next logical step to turn them on. But instead she stayed rooted to the spot on her bedroom rug. The spot she always stood on, where the pattern was so worn you couldn't make out the shapes anymore. 

She stood there suspended in time for three breaths and on the fourth inhale she turned on the spot and lifted the covers from her bed, tucked herself in and sunk gratefully into the pillow. 


by Brittany Chavez