Monday, 28 June 2021

'Etchings' by Natalya Edwards

I slam the door behind me, immediately pressing myself against the cool tile on the adjoining wall. I fumble with the lock. Then I let my body surrender itself to the floor.

There’s shrieks and screams from downstairs. They probably know I’m in here. When you can’t find someone where have they disappeared to? The bathroom, always.

My palms are pressed flat against the floor. I’m trying to alleviate the sweat but I think my hands are warming the tile faster than the tile is cooling me.

My heart is sputtering. I try to focus on my breathing — slow and full breaths. 

Grounding yourself. That’s meant to help. There’s a grimy shower cubicle in the corner, littered with empty shower gel bottles. I suddenly notice how the floor is covered in empty loo rolls and hardened ends of loo paper. There’s even a piece sticking to my calf. I remove it and throw it into the corner, it travels pathetically across the room.

I wish to be in my bed, at safety, where there isn’t a mutated scent combination of urine and vomit. I press my head against the door, there’s something black a centimetre from my eyeball. Abruptly, I pull away so my eyes can focus.

The entire door is scrawled in blank ink. Initials with hearts. Names and dates. Swear words. Someone’s even etched in the number to a suicide prevention helpline. Another has replied “thank you.”

I wash my hands. There is no soap, or towel. As I turn to leave, I spot a ballpoint pen a few inches from the toilet seat. I etch in my initials and the date.

It feels better now. The door and all its etchings has made me realise I’m not the only one that finds solace in a bathroom. 

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