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There's a space a few inches wide between the edge of his tub and the sink. It's where he keeps his medicine.

Lined up in the gap and easily reachable from the shower are bottles of shampoo. He keeps them in chronological order, mostly.

What happens is, girls come over sometimes. Sometimes they come over a lot. Sometimes the come over so often they leave stuff for the next time and sometimes, when they stop coming over to see him, they leave their soaps and suds and things behind.

He keeps them in that little alley and most of the time he forgets that they're there at all.

But sometimes he gets lonely. It's the worst at night because the shades get drawn, the lights get dimmed and the infomercials are all he's got. He called up the juicer people once at 4am because, you know, it's a voice and it's interactive and it's free.

That was only once. That was a bad night.

Normally he just takes a shower. A hot one. He gets wet and slippery, closes his eyes and picks a bottle from the row. He runs the shampoo around his fingers and through his hair, the bathroom smelling like her, one of her, for a little bit. Just a little bit.

He remembers how soft her hair was down by her shoulders and the haircut that made her cry. He liked that haircut but shhhhhhh. Couldn't say.

Or...he remembers the endless brushing out of the curls that never did as they were told, always flopping around a tiny bit on her forehead. He remembers listening to the sound of the brush for what seemed like hours.

Or...he remembers lying with his head in her lap, the smell of her soap floating up from the inch of skin between the bottom of her shirt and the top of her jeans, all strawberry and cream and just the faintest hint of sweat.


- - -


There's one bottle out of order, at the end in the very corner so he doesn't have to see it if he doesn't want to. That's the bottle that makes him cry, curled up at the end of the tub and hiding from the water.

That's the empty one.




For Andy. Happy Birthday.