by Rachel Shabalin
The girl pulls the dial on the washing machine and watches the water bleed into the creases of her jeans. It’s one of those outdated models where the water jets out in a blade and the exterior echoes and pops when you sit on the lid. Her hand blocks the stream of water until she senses the shape of her bones, the boundaries of her flesh. A reminder that she still has a body. She hears voices echoing in the stairwell and then dissolving. She sometimes forgets that other tenants live in the building. She only sees the nests of lint forgotten on the dryer. A stray sock on the cold floor.
The drone of water fades into the concrete walls. The last time she did laundry, she was active on social media. That was before she deleted herself. She imagines vultures circling her dormant profile, picking away at the pits of her eyes, her flesh melting under the sun like a rotten peach. Would anyone notice her carcass?
The rest of her darks wait in the laundry basket like a lump of hashtags and status updates. Discarded shells. Curated skins. A reminder that she still exists. When did picking a niche become a survival routine? Her perfectly optimized self all shiny and glittery decaying on the desert floor. She moves her thumb over her cracked nailbeds and knuckles. She stares down into the washer’s drum, like it’s a mirror, like it’s a well that will swallow her whole. Her frizzy hair and oily skin.
Is that me?
The water stops and the soap suds whisper against the grain of her breath. She imagines crawling outside her body and tossing her remains in the wash.
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