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On Bathrooms This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

She hates bathrooms.

If, at that moment, the outside world were to burst into flames, she would cling to that single fact, as cool and solid as the tiled floor against her cheek. She hates the design; it's not a solid blue, but bluish-gray, ambiguous, smeared unevenly across the surface of each square as if by an unseen hand. She wants to wipe it off, but no matter how hard she scrubs the not-pattern remains. Sometimes, as if to spite her, the blue fades away while the gray stands out.

And then there's the toilet, lid propped up and mouth open wide, smiling. Waiting to suck her down, she knows, waiting for someone to pull the lever and push her in like the goldfish that died when she was six. She wonders if that's what drowning is like--if fish can drown--all bulging eyes and filmy eyeballs and slack mouth swirling down the drain in a spiral, like the lollipops at carnivals, and--flush! but don't worry, the bowl gets refilled.

She's been in here for three hours now, thinking about everything and nothing, until the rising sun tosses a rectangle of light through the window so that it lands on her face. She thaws, cheeks softening like butter, and forgets that the tiles aren't really blue. She'll last another day, she thinks. Today she won't be another body on the floor. There's the privacy of one's bedroom, or an attic, a cliff or a bridge, but the privacy of a bathroom is too cold and confined. Gray tiled walls and tiled floors. One could go mad simply studying them, the lines crisscrossing to form perfect squares.

She would like it to be in a meadow, she suddenly decides. With green grass and blue skies and pretty flowers that match her hair, because her hair would be spread out in waves on the grass around her face like a halo. It's cliche, but it's what she thinks of when she imagines peace. Picturesque. Perfect. And the meadow would stretch on forever, like the sky, with mountains that jut from the ground and melt into the horizon.

But not a house in sight. No walls, no tiles. No bathrooms.





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