Jennifer Roush
Jennifer Roush
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Jennifer Roush
After Edit: 
 
She tries for the faucet, her fingers slipping against the shower tiles, cold as the glass that night.  Steam obscures her view, but the years tell her hands which way to turn the dial.   
 
She slides into the tub, drowning out her own wail with the skreek-sound of slipping against the porcelain.  She grits her teeth against the searing water, ignoring her scalding skin.  Arms pressed against her breasts, one hand drifts up to hide her face. The other wraps her bottom in its protective cup.
 
The netted blossom of a body scrubber bumps her hand. She seizes it, pouring soap until the cool goo overflows down her wrist.  She gasps as the first rasps of the scrub bite into her, but she scrubs his touch away until she sees the little rolls of skin mixed in with the suds.
 
Withholding her cries cords up her neck like it did that night, until a sob breaks through, shaking her frame.  Ropes of saliva bridge her lips as she keens. The spit feels like his. When she scours her mouth, she bathes her face with another kind of burning tears.
 
Sobs shake her until the steam abates.  Her “rescuers” shook her that night, too. She cries until she shivers from the bathwater turned cold, from the questions in her memory: “Why didn’t you scream?” “Why didn’t you fight?”
 
Her cheeks dry, stiff with salt. The cold water laps at her skin. Which was worse? Him or her friends’ questions after?  The memories from forty years ago settle.  It doesn’t matter. She survived it all.
 
Quietly, she stands and puts on her life like her clothes. At least until the memories flare up again.