by Shawn Campbell

Lisa sat bolt upright in bed.  Paul lay on his side next to her, snoring softly.  It had been a dream. Something about….no….it was gone. Lisa breathed in and let it out.  Breathed in again, and let it out, unconsciously matching Paul’s respiratory rhythm. What time was it?  Her phone was on the floor next to the bed, plugged into the wall. It didn’t really matter. It had just been a dream. Paul smacked his lips in his sleep and rolled onto his back. There was a faint trace of a smile on his lips. The spot under her right thigh was still damp. It had been a good night. She hadn’t had a night like that in a long time. She hadn’t known Paul could do things like that. He was in better shape now than she had remembered. Pressure in her bowels.  She shouldn’t have had the appetizer at dinner.  There was always going to be trouble when she overstuffed herself. Perhaps it would fade.  No.  This was the real deal. Lisa pushed back the covers and swung her legs to the hardwood.  
The house was pitch black. Lisa took baby steps, her hands out in front of her, hurrying as fast as she could. The pressure was growing. Bedroom doorway. Hallway.  Bathroom.  First door on the left. It was cold, but not uncomfortably so. Her hand fumbled for the light switch. Up the wall and back down. Once. Twice. The world painfully flashed into visibility. Sink. Bathtub.  Tile floor.  Lisa caught a brief glimpse of herself in the mirror. Bedraggled light brown hair. Mascara running. Cellulite on her thighs. The toilet. The seat was down. Paul had never put the seat down when they were married. She had yelled and screamed, but he had never listened. A shift in her gut. No time to think about anything but the job at hand. Hike up her shirt. Paul’s t-shirt, large on her frame, the Shamrock Run, last year. Panties down around her legs. A queen rests on her throne.
Lisa breathed a sigh of relief. Her eyes tracked across the tile of the floor and the beige paint of the walls. Waiting. Resting. What the hell was she doing? It all seemed so familiar. No, that wasn’t fair. It felt different this time. The first time it had been like a fox run to ground after a long hunt.  It had felt more like giving in.  This time it felt nice. Like getting home after a long vacation. Things were working out just fine. No problems. No issues. She could get up and go to bed, but it would mean being back in five minutes. She knew how these things worked. She wasn’t a little girl anymore. The world was all out of surprises.  
Lisa sat and waited. It didn’t always happen, but it was best to be sure. She wished she had thought to bring her phone. She could play Candy Crush or maybe comb through Tinder. Was that wrong to do? There was something soothing about the judgement of the pictures. Swiping left and right. Ears too big. Too fat. Too skinny. Eyes too close together. You’d do in a pinch. Not in a hundred years. Possibilities. Thousands of possibilities. You never had to settle, but you never got to settle down.  Life was short. There was more to it than short term thrills.  
Lisa took a deep breath in and let it out. The bathroom stunk. She should really turn on the fan. No, it might wake Paul.  She craned her head to look at the back of the toilet. No candles. No matches. That would be something she would have to rectify.  Maybe a nice bath mat too. The one he had looked like an inheritance from the estate of a long dead relative. Ratty and fraying at the edges. Boredom was setting in.  
Lisa looked down in the garbage next to the toilet. Wads of Kleenex, strands of floss, and an empty box of store brand anti-diarrheal pills. At least it was something to read. Lisa reached down and picked up the box.  Underneath was a razor. White with pink piping. It had a large round head.  It was a woman’s razor. Lori’s razor.  Lisa had never met the woman, only heard of her through mutual friends and Facebook posts, but there she was, sitting in the trash. Winking with a knowing smile brought forth by the knowledge of their common bond.  Gurgling in her stomach. Lisa put the empty pill box back in the garbage.  
Things were on the move again. Lisa flexed her toes and stared down at the tile floor. Little white octagons speckled by lonely black ones near the walls. The grout was dirty.  It needed a good scrub. A little elbow grease with a stiff brush. It sat by the bath mat, near the wall, a thin long black string. Lisa reached over and picked it up. She held it up to the light above to get a better look. It was black as night. A strand of Lori in her hand. Straight with a slight wave.  Just like the smiling picture up at Tunnel Falls. She was being silly. It was just a hair, nothing more. Lisa slipped it between her legs so that it could be with the rest of the excrement. Nothing worth thinking about, soon to be flushed away.  
There was another hair by the sink. Lisa reached over and put it in the toilet with its sibling. Another by the tub.  One along the wall. Wait, another there as well. Lisa picked them up one by one, and dropped them all in the bowl to wait to be flushed away. Lisa wiped, it was time to go back to bed. No. There were more. Three on the bathmat, tangled in with the fibers. Lisa picked them off, but found two more in the process.  Lisa dropped down on her hands and knees, her panties still around her legs, her head down close to the tile. Hunting. Searching. Yes. There were more. A whole nest underneath the bath mat. A tumbleweed amongst the dust bunnies behind the toilet. One stuck to the side of the sink pedestal. Jesus.  How much hair could one woman lose? Was Lori bald?  
They kept appearing. Some in places Lisa swore she had already looked. They were breeding. Multiplying. All were added to the growing collection in the toilet. Lisa scoured every square inch of the bathroom. Top to bottom. Clean. Every surface had to be clean. She took a Kleenex and swept away the dust bunnies hiding near the walls, sweeping up more fine hairs in the process. One last hair. A light brown one. That one was okay. She let it retain its place on the bathroom floor.  She looked down at the black rat’s nest resting on top of the mass of wet toilet paper and Kleenex. Her finger pushed the flush handle. The water swirled and the mass was sucked down. Down into depths. Down to be forgotten.  
What was she doing? Jesus. It was late. She needed to go to bed.  Lisa pulled up her panties and looked at her profile in the mirror. She was getting older, but her tits still looked pretty good.  Lisa washed her hands in the sink and rubbed some of the streaked mascara off her face. Maybe she’d repaint the bathroom. Seafoam. She’d always liked seafoam.  
Lisa turned off the light and carefully felt her way back to the bedroom. Paul was snoring softly. She could just make out the darker patch in the blackness. Her hands came to rest on the edge of the bed.  She laid down with her head on the pillow.  She pulled up the sheet and blankets. Her fingers traced their way across the loose weave of one of the blankets. Her eyes slowly shut. Her mind drifted. Her eyes snapped open.  A hair. A hair between her fingers. Lisa moved slowly, not wanting to wake Paul. She reached down to her phone beside the bed. Her other hand brought the strand close to the floor. She hit the button, lighting the phone’s screen.  It was black. A black hair in the bed.