Steam, calming and soothing, usually relaxes my tense muscles and washes away the worries of the day. Normally, the hot, flowing water calms me. Not this time. After last night, nothing is the same. Or will ever be the same. Tonight I stand in the boiling stream of water, running like lava over my body. So hot that it’s burning my skin, staining it red. Stains. So many stains on my skin, but I guess you can’t see them. Still…I can feel them. Greasy, grimy, burdening. Nails scratch skin, desperately trying to scrape away the last three years. I lathered, rinsed, and repeated until I ran out of cleanser. Palm after palm of soap gets scrubbed into my arms, my chest, my legs…but none of it reaches my soul, where I need it the most. Cleanse, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Still, the soiled feeling clings to me like a colt to its mother. Like when you emerge squeaky clean from the shower and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet. Stale. Dripping, I reach for my toothbrush. Scrub. Swish, scritch, scratch. Still dirty. Still filthy. Nails on skin, water runs red. Stained red. Stained, just like me. Everything has changed. Nothing is the same. Nothing is clean, beautiful. It is broken. I am broken. The water has run cold, cold like my soul. I emerge numb. My burnt skin, now covered with goose bumps, catches my attention in the mirror. Scratch marks run down my face, past my neck, across my chest. Monotone laughter reaches my ears, and I’m startled to realize that robotic sound was me. By trying to fix my own sin I’ve simply made it worse. Surprise surprise. My warm, cleansing place has failed. I failed. Nails scratch skin. My own desolation crashes against me. Nails scratch skin. The hopelessness of my situation floods my being. Nails scratch skin. Tears burn my freshly torn face. Nails scratch skin. As nothingness engulfs me, I can still feel something, though far away. Something...what is it? It resembles nails…nails scratching skin.