This story was originally written for DAWGS, the DeKalb Area Writers’ Group, and published in the Rockford Review Gala Edition, 2009.
Whistling as he stepped out of another record length shower, Van Specchio opted to drip dry in the steamy bathroom. He wiped a tan forearm across the glazed mirror and admired his moisture laden reflection through the streaming rivulets. He grinned broadly, the whiteness of his smile matching his torso; glowing brighter than the fluorescents in the opaque air. Brushing his teeth quickly, he never broke contact with the other Van’s admiring eyes. As he rinsed, he squished water from cheek to cheek and checked the level of necessity to shave. He spit and ran the back of a hand across his wet mouth. Scrubbing fingertips through his day old scruff he decided it was a respectable length. Sexy, even. Eat your heart out Don Johnson. Leaning in closer, he noticed patches of gray. Distinguished, he thought, nodding. He tossed his shaggy hair with both hands, fingers raking to fluff and separate the thinning strands. He shook his head, hair smacking against his digits like cards in a wheel spoke, expelling a spatter of aerial droplets. He made a mess, but he didn’t care, it was just water. With his arms above his head, he took the opportunity to flex. First right. Then left. Faster now, eyes shifting back and forth between one pasty pec and the other. Drawing his arms downward, with a rounding of his shoulders and a gripping of his hands, he pressed into his paunch and flexed again. The dance may have continued from this position had there not been a rap on the door. “Done honey? We need to get in there, too.” With one last tensing, he winked and grabbed a towel, wrapping it as he opened the door. “All yours,” he said, sauntering out, damp feet smacking the hardwood hallway.
Del sighed as she entered the bathroom, now more clammy than steamy. They should never let him go first. She nudged the fan switch, trying not to notice the mess he had made. She disrobed quickly, her back to the mirror. Climbing into the shower stall she emerged a brief three minutes later. Cici still needed to shower and the water temps were already cooling. Flipping her body forward, she wrapped a towel around her head, rubbing it into her short hair. She stepped out of the stall, feet squelching on the wet rug, and immediately grabbed for a bath sheet to envelop her body. She dried herself quickly, donning the safety of her bathrobe. Wiping the soggy mirror with a dry washcloth, she sighed as she emerged in the swirls. Brushing her teeth, she glimpsed past her reflection at the spattered walls and dripping mess left by her husband. She wasn’t sure how he could make such a mess, but the visual brought a smile to her lips. She rinsed and spit, using the corner of her head wrap to dab her mouth. Averting eyes from herself, she used the cloth to mop up some of Van’s splatters around the sink. After blotting her hair she hung the towels neatly over the bar. Vigorously rubbing moisturizer into her skin, she hoped to ease the lines that forty-four years had earned her. With resignation, she found her face in the mirror and wondered when she had become her mother.
Being sixteen put Cici at the peak of self-absorption. Being Van’s daughter put her in the early stages. Copping an attitude due to her third-in-shower status, she stomped down the hall, past her mother, and slammed the door. The damp air ever cooling since her father’s hot water abuse, she hurried and lathered up under the still warm stream. The spray lost heat rapidly and she emerged rinsed, chilled and irate. Wrapping a dry towel around her chest, she wiped the mirror with the same hand towel her mother had used, it was damp but the condensation wasn’t nearly as thick now. She shaved her legs at the sink, cursing their length. She was the tallest girl in her class. She hated her father for that. She dried her body, hating her burgeoning breasts and her mother. She traced a hand across her flat stomach, pinching a fingers worth of flesh at the edge. Ugh, why had she eaten breakfast? She combed her hair, not for the first (or last) time wishing she didn’t have all these stupid curls. Why couldn’t she have straight hair like her friend Taylor? She dragged the comb through the spirals pulling them taut. Grumbling and throwing the comb at the mirror when it reached the ends allowing the ringlets to defy her wishes. Tall, fat, and ugly. She stood there fully exposed, hating the likeness that gaped in return. The beading moisture on the surface of the glass having nothing to do with the warped reflection. With a sigh of disgust, she slid into her robe and clomped out.
Lucky little Phil didn’t have to take a shower. At eight years old, all he had to do was wet a comb, drag it through his unruly hair, wash his face and brush his teeth to be considered presentable. Stripped down to his underwear, he ran the water, pushing the comb into the plummet, separating the stream. He rolled the comb over in his hand, enthralled as the waterfall split and spread then resumed. Scooping, he ran the comb through his hair, losing most of the contents on the counter before reaching his destination. He jumped around, singing into the comb, watching with glee as his reflection completed the duet. Putting the comb down, he grabbed handfuls of water and slapped them on his face, running them up over his head. When it came to bathroom “wetiquette,” he was his father’s son. Drenched, he drove his hair up in peaks and spikes, giggling over his rock ‘n’ roll hairstyle. Now he played air guitar, his superman undies sopped, seat sagging at his bottom as he pin-wheeled his arm, jumped and landed on both knees. “Phil?” mom called, “Finish up; it’s almost time to go.” He dragged himself to a stand, grabbing the toothbrush and paste. Singing with toothpaste foam made bubbles. He laughed and did it some more. Rinsing, he spit, beamed broadly and stuck his tongue through a hole in his grin. Wiping his face on the wet hand towel, he dragged it onto his head, squashing a spike or two. He wrapped a towel around his body, hiking it up high so it wouldn’t drag on the ground and posed like a supermodel. Pressing the head towel with one hand and holding his ‘dress’ with the other, he elbowed the switches off and strutted out of the bathroom.
Van = vanita`, vain
Del = deludente, disappointed
Cici = ciechi, blind
Phil = felice, happy
Specchio = mirror
*I went with Italian because I found five words to use. No other language gave me all of them.