Olivia’s Bathroom


    Olivia’s bathroom has a high, popcorn ceiling with a skylight where a bulbed one should be. There’s a big mirror that two can fit in side by side, and the beige walls are broken up by flower printed canvases. I am lucky to have spent far more time in this bathroom than the average teenage girl. A staggering amount compared to the rest of the human population. If it were a race, Riley and I would tie for second – of course only behind Olivia herself. 

I’m thinking of this one night while I’m laying beside them in the attached bedroom. It’s late, and they're asleep, but my mind was not so remorseful as to grant me the same peace. In the black, my body glows like a plasma lamp, the electric veins trying to escape my skin. I’m laying beside them, trying to keep the spill of atomic moss on my share of the mattress.

    I slither out of the bed, clinging to the sheets, then the floor, climbing horizontally to the bathroom like a fish that had just left the ocean, millions of years ago, swimming to the only crack of light in the hadalpelagic.


    Olivia’s bathroom floor is a hard brown tile that heists 50% body heat of any warm blooded animal that dares lay against it. 60% in the summer. I know this because everything about this bathroom is eternally present, during our late night confessions and early morning whispers. This is the same cold brown tile that graced the floor the first time I came in here, and will, too, the last. This room is a celestial picture of time.

    I lay my head on the terry cloth rug by the shower, and see bobby pins scattered across the cove joints. They make me smile – I think of how Olivia is unusually stingy in lending me bobby pins. If only she knew there are at least a dozen hiding from her in plain sight. I realize they’re more likely hiding from me.

    The tile feels good on my tear burnt skin. Before I came to Olivia's house, hours ago, I had spent all day crying. I’m usually crying about the boy with the September birthday, or times I’ve looked too much like my mother, or not enough, or I’ll remember ballet class with the girl I used to call the Moon who I don't speak to anymore. My reason this day was not a story I had autonomously written. I was grieving something there was no metaphor for.


    I look out of the skylight as it plays a video my mother took of us when I was 2, and she had shorter hair. One side of my sleepy face is sprawled on the counter while she's stroking the hair and cheek of the other. There’s music playing. There was always music playing in the house I grew up in.


    My mother used to carry around a big boxy video camera to capture these moments. Whenever we rummage through the archives, we stop at this one. She tells me she could listen to my breath forever. I miss being loved so quietly by my mother.

    My entire body is laid on Olivia’s bathroom floor like the baby face sprawled against granite in a now demolished kitchen. I’m still the girl with the widow’s peak and porcelain lips, but I couldn’t keep the rest of her so young. I’ve grown – my face will never reach the counter as comfortably as it used to. The birthmark on my arm has gotten smaller because I’ve grown taller, so tall that I can't fit into the shallowest part of a bathtub anymore. So tall, that if my mother saw me lying here, she couldn't scoop me up and put me back in bed like she used to.

    For nearly two hours, the bathroom watched me watch the thought.

    I imagined that if I was quiet enough, my younger mother wouldn't hear me creep through the backdoor to hold her sleeping baby. Or that if I was quiet enough, I could hear their breath through the floorboards.

March 2023