mootz - That Other Woman She was on her side lying in her bed, her hands clasped together and tucked tightly between her thighs, eyes spread wide open as if she was in a state of constant surprise. The buzz of her alarm clock is familiar but not comforting. In fact, it's grating and intrusive, entering the mind like a unwieldy saw cutting through ply-wood. The job is done, but it's always jagged and never clean. Slowly her right arm wiggles from underneath her and shifts to take on the brunt of her weight as it struggles to push her body up. After a brief moment, she finds herself sitting upright on her bed, the sheets and covers still neat and tucked-in beneath her. Her legs dangle from the bed, though her toes could touch the floor if she stretched them, and she sits staring forward at the wall opposite her. Her dresser—a beautiful, brown-red, mahogany masterpiece that was passed on from her dear, sweet grandmother—sits opposite her. The top left drawer is open, a pair of undergarments hang out just slightly over the edge. They're trimmed with pink and white lace, a design she thought was both too special and cute for last night. Instead, she chose to wear a black pair that she really liked. Unfortunately, she left those behind. Her eyes start to rise, but she fights the action. On her dresser, alongside brushes, cosmetic things and a few work items is her mid-length mirror. She can already taste the salty and bitter mix of bleeding mascara on the edges of her mouth. It tastes almost like glue or adhesive. It's too distinct a taste to just forget, it will rest along side the rest of her memories. The five senses are a complex thing, sensory memory will haunt her for a long time and she knows it. For instance, she'll never forget how his bare mid-drift swelled with the effects of bad habits. Stretch marks streaked across his dark complexion like beer-induced lighting strikes across a dark, night sky. His man-boobs rivaled her own natural breast as he hung over her for those few minutes. The Axe deodorant he bathed in didn't mask the sweaty, pungent musk that his body expelled almost like the self defense mechanism of white-striped, black skunks, but rather, seemed to intertwine with it in a new and disgusting odor all his own. The feeling of him was unpleasant—he wasn't large nor impossible to handle—but he was awkward and uncompromising. Not, that she would say anything one way or the other. If she had, it would have been like she was there, and that wasn't her. It was someone else. Someone kind enough to stuff her night's salary into her bra and not keep it for herself. She was thankful for the kindness of that woman, whoever she was. It was strange, she was never kind to women of the night, but that one, whoever she was, was a kind woman. That woman wasn't a home wrecker nor a slut, like most whores. She didn't do it for the sense of danger or some sick fantasy. It wasn't a result of some prior abuse or mishandling on some aggressive males' part. It was just something that whore did. That whore, not her. Her feet stretched out for the ground, her hands finally pulling away from her lap. She walked sheepishly through her bed room, afraid to touch anything or acknowledge she was even there. Careful not to look into a mirror of any size. Somehow, she found her linen closet, despite her staring down almost exclusively at her black high heels as she moved through her apartment. She grabbed a towel of a dark color, a brown that was near burgundy and fuzzy with the thick wool that it was made from. Her hands gripped tightly on the towel, twisting it as if to wring it dry, in her grasp. Subtle signs of veins bulge on the backs of her hands. She knew she would have to have a glimpse of that woman in her bathroom. Still, she managed to turn on the facet—after taking a big, deep breath—without seeing herself. She exhaled and looked into the mirror. Her bright, apple-red lipstick was smudged and smeared on her lips, carrying onto the skin that surrounded them in a few spots. She had made a point to insist on no kissing—or, the woman last night did. But the man, having satisfied his most basic need, and having her pinned, felt a urge or sense of personal strength and defiance. He held her down while his sweaty face came into contact with hers and his lips and tongue forced a brief interaction with her own. Black streaked across her face, though not coming straight down towards her toes, but turning to the right, from when she cried on her side on top of her bed after having done so standing. Some streaks still made it's way to her mouth, as it seemed to blur her light, pale complexion. Her face was a blank canvas to some ill-controlled black pen—there was no beauty in it. Still, she forced a smile while the water heated up and her towel absorbed the warm, cleaning fluid. She brought up the wool against her face, gently brushing aside the memories, the evidence and the ruined make-up. When her face was clean, she undressed in a near tear of speed that left her as bare as the day she was born. She jumped into the shower of her bathroom and let warm water pour down her without care or worry. She felt cold underneath it, so she turned up the heat. Yet, as the temperature rose and her body started to jump and squirm against the heat, she still couldn't shake the coldness she felt. She jumped back in her shower when the temperature started to actually burn and scald, nearly falling as she lost her balance in the wet tub. Steam filled the room rapidly and sweat poured down her face, and yet, her arms were wrapped across her chest hugging her cold body. More tears rolled down her face, though they weren't accented by black mascara, but rather masked in the steamy room. It took her a moment, but she came to her senses and angled her foot around the stream of hot liquid to nudge the handle of the shower into a lower temperature. The water slowly cooled down but she didn't wait for it to fall all the way when she submerged the rest of her body underneath it to fully shut off the water. It was still pretty warm, but not scalding. Though, she had already wasted too much time, either way. She wrapped herself in a towel before jumping out the tub. Her black dress, bra and heels were scooped up from the floor so that no one else would have to see them, and carried with her. She made a quick stop in the kitchen to pre-heat the oven before running back to her room. Inside her room she dried herself in haste, forgetting her hair, or rather neglecting a thorough process of drying it. She put on her pajamas and house slippers and then walked nervously into the hallway. Stopping in front of the other bed room door of the apartment, she paused. She took another deep breath and exhaled, but it wasn't enough. It just reminded her of the woman she saw when she last did so, the woman in the mirror. It reminded her of the things that woman did. She closed her eyes, counted to ten, brought a big smile to her face and finally knocked on the door. “Time for school, little guy,” she said, cheerfully. Her voice was bright, exuberant and promising. It was full of hope, like a rainbow on a cloudy day. There was no sadness or pain. After all, why should there be when all that happened had happened to someone else. She opened the door to his room. Her ten-year old son crawled out of bed with a smile on his face and happiness peering through his crusty bed time eyes. He rubbed his eyes clean with the back of his hands as she walked into his room and sat at the edge of his bed. “Hurry up and shower, baby,” she said. “Mommy didn't sleep well so she took extra long getting up and she doesn't want to be late for work.” “Did you get the money for the field trip?” he asked, innocently. “Yes,” she said, her voice brimming with pride. Pride not for the actions of that woman that night, but for the happiness provided to her son.