She switched the shower on as hot as it would go. Condensation began to form in the small room almost immediately. Good, the last thing she wanted was to look at her own face right now. In an hour she would have to feign happiness and poise while stuffing rolls in her purse and shrimps down her throat between glasses of champagne. She would have to make small, small, infinitesimally tiny talk with dozens of couples who had donated money to the government, who had hosted dinner parties with her parents, with people that knew exactly how and when those same parents had disowned her and why. And to top it all off, she didn’t know anyone besides Brisbane who wouldn’t wholly humiliate her as her date.
She stripped down and turned towards the mirror, a huge mistake. She took in a woman on the other side, who looked put together and resilient. But behind her own eyes she saw that look, that strangled look that she knew was killing her slowly from the deepest wells in her mind and was leaking poison all the way out into every other part of her. And it wasn’t just Brisbane. She had no place on this Earth. And no matter how much she shrouded this fact in different kinds of band-aids, she could not escape it.
She stepped into the scorching water, and turning it down she felt her muscles relax from top to bottom. Just as she was reaching for soap she felt the door crack open next to her and a draft of cool air brushed against her thighs.
“Hey,” Brisbane spoke to her in profile, “do you need me to arrange anything for you? You are running out of time.”
She stalled for a minute, smelling that rich smoke scent of his skin.
“No, thank you. How long?”
“About half an hour.” He was stalling too.
“Was there anything else? Is something wrong?” she almost reached a hand out for him but then thought the better of it and recoiled.
“The piece you brought me,” he answered, “it’s the wrong kind.”
At this he shut the door. She stood only for a moment, then reached for the soap.