Because she’s home early, and the mirrored cabinet door is open, and the catch on the bathroom door is faulty, Aaron can see her showering. She freezes, imagines the embarrassment for both of them, and for her daughter. Leaning into the shower, elbows covering her chest, she wipes soap from her face. Maybe this will make Ella believe her, will show her what she’s been saying about her boyfriend all along. Ella’s young, has no idea what men are like.
It’s been a long time… a man… watching. Her movements are heavy — hands along arms, fingers around neck, the flexing of arms reaching to shoulders and back, tension in her stomach where posture is designed. She turns, eyes closed, squeezes soap from her hair. If she reaches behind her head, stretches her back just so, her breasts sit higher up on her chest.
When she opens her eyes she’ll display her embarrassment, bring this to an end; she has plenty of ammunition already. Pervert.
Ella is far prettier than she was at 19. But Ella’s still young, so skinny, her limbs pointed, her movements awkward. Womanhood is coming though; she can see it settling about her, a maternal reconciliation slowing her movements, infusing poise, grace.
She leans back, shakes her hair beneath the shower.
Maybe Aaron is comparing her to Ella. He can’t have seen many women naked.
Last week she saw them together: Aaron sitting on the settee, Ella on her knees between his legs, giggling as she tried to undo his belt.
She bends over to wash her shins, calves, thighs. In her head she rehearses surprise. Creep.
A man watching her.
The last time a man touched her…
She stands, palms hair from her face, opens her eyes.
He’s not there.
The front door closes with a clank.
She looks down at her body, at the last of the soap fizzing about her feet, making its way to the drain.
Stepping out of the shower, she wipes condensation from the cabinet mirror, and looks at her face and body, at the distortion of light refracted through water and steam.
Later, she’ll tell Gail how she’s fine not being with a man. Gail will agree, and they’ll talk about the freedom they have, about their independence, about how much happier they are. She’ll tell Gail about Aaron watching her in the shower, and they’ll talk about men being animals.
She lifts her chin, peers along her nose at her body reflected in the mirror. She strokes her neck, her collarbone, caresses her breast with the side of a thumb. Steam from the shower covers the mirror, disfiguring her image. Slowly, she turns her head, her eyes shifting sideways, sliding from the grey glass, until she is gone.
Adam wakes far too early in the morning, in the Black Country, UK, to write stories that try to explode the small happenings in life. He has, or will soon have, stories published in STORGY, Fictive Dream, Retreat West, Spelk, Vending Machine Press, Fiction Pool, Ghost Parachute, Occulum, Flash Fiction Magazine, and others. Adam has a website with links to his published stories: adamlock.net and is also active on Twitter: @dazedcharacter.