An excerpt from a senior comp: The Season Blue

Tara Scannell
    Scalding hot water was spraying down from the showerhead, but I barely felt the intensity of it.  Steam was quickly gathering in the stall.  It was making me lightheaded.  I felt like I was going to pass out.  The pressure left what looked like tiny red pin pricks wherever the water touched me.  I didn’t know where to start, so I just stood there, naked in the shower, watching the water fall to the ground and spin, like a miniature whirlpool into the drain beneath my feet.
    I tried to remind myself I was just taking a regular shower, just like every other shower I had ever taken before.  I started to wash my hair.  I picked up my shampoo bottle and turned my palm upward, preparing to squirt the soap into my hand.  It was impossible for me to ignore the purple and blue mark already forming on my wrist from where Austin had held me down, barely an hour ago.
    His hand had been tightly wrapped around my wrist, trapping me between his body and Jeff’s bed when his kissing had changed.  His lips had become more aggressive on mine and his other hand was starting to unbutton my shorts.  I told him to stop, that he was moving too quickly.  I could still hear the music being played from the first floor.  It was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a song Madison and I always sang karaoke to.  I had tried to move my wrist out from under his grasp, but I couldn’t.
    I took my eyes off the bruised wrist; I felt nothing when I looked at it except the need to wash my hair.  My fingers dug into my scalp, vigorously scratching and rubbing until the shampoo had completely lathered through every last inch of hair.  As I scrubbed, I counted the blue tiles that ran horizontally across the shower.  There were 27.
    I closed my eyes, leaned back into the spray of the shower, and started to rinse my hair, moving my hands more gently now over my scalp.  There it was.  The knot on the back of my head from where, with each thrust Austin had taken between my legs, my head had banged harder and harder against the head board. How he only went harder when I had begged him to stop.  At this point I had just closed my eyes and pretended Madison and I were singing at our favorite karaoke bar.
    Soap.  I needed more soap.  I grabbed my scrubby and emptied nearly half my bottle of body wash onto it and I scrubbed.  I started with my neck where there were already hickeys starting to form.  From there, I moved down to my shoulders, down one arm and over to the next.  The combination of the extreme heat of the water and the excessive pressure I was using to wash myself was turning my skin violently red.  I knew I should be feeling pain from this, but the nerves in my body weren’t responding.
    I finally moved on to washing my chest.  There were hickeys forming here as well and bruises from where he had pinched and pulled my breasts.  It had been so different from my experiences with Jim, where I had felt loved and adored.  I had felt none of that with Austin.  I continued to cover my chest and torso with white, foamy suds.  I wanted to completely cover my skin so I didn’t have to look at it anymore, but the soap only stayed for a few seconds before being dragged off my body by the water running down me in tiny rivers and streams.
    I now found myself washing in between my legs, scrubbing furiously, wanting to remove every last trace and sign that Austin had been there.  No matter how hard I tried to use the soap and water on my skin like an eraser on a piece of paper, it didn’t work.  He was still there.  The purple and blue bruises that speckled my inner and outer thighs wouldn’t go away.  His fingerprints still remained.
    As I continued to wash myself, I heard two girls, just getting home from a night of partying, come in and use the bathroom.  Their voices were loud and obnoxious, echoing off every part of the marble floors and walls.
    “Oh my gosh,” one of them said as they slammed the stall door shut, “who the hell is taking a shower right now?”
    “Kelly, shut up; you’re being so loud,” the other girl said with emphasis.  “She’ll hear you.”
    I slowed my movements down to a normal speed, losing some of my urgency now that I wasn’t alone.  They were giggling and laughing together about the fun they had that night while they were out.  They sounded like Madison and I usually did when we came home.  Madison.  Where was Madison?  Had she seen me leave?  How had I gotten home?  I couldn’t remember how I had gotten back to campus.  The two girls left the bathroom and I dropped the scrubby from my hand.  I suddenly felt so tired I could barely stand, so I sat down on the shower stall floor.  I sat there with my knees folded to my chest, my arms wrapped around myself.  Water continued to spray down on me like rain falling from the sky.  Why did I feel like I was going to fall apart?  Where was Madison?
    I don’t know how long I sat there, but no one else came into the bathroom until I heard her voice.
    “Lizzy?” Madison said hesitantly.  “Are you in here?”
    “Yes,” I answered.  “In here.”
    “Do you need my help?” She no longer sounded drunk or happy.  She sounded nearly sober.
    I didn’t answer her.
    “Lizzy?” she asked again.  “I’m going to come in okay?”
    Again I didn’t answer.
    I watched the shower curtain being pulled back and Madison appeared before me.  She shut the curtain behind her.
    “What happened?” she asked as she reached in and turned off the water.
    “Nothing,” I said.  “I’m fine.” I was barely able to meet her eyes.  I could feel her staring at me, her eyes raking over my naked body, obviously taking in the marks covering my skin.
    “Please, just talk to me,” she implored.  “I can help.”
    I didn’t want help right then though.  “Don’t,” I said.  “Not right now.  I just want to go to bed.”
    She grabbed my towel from the hook it was hanging on, bent down in the shower next to me, and wrapped me in it.
    “Come on,” she whispered.  “Let’s go.”  She pulled me up with her and we walked back to our room together.  Inside she pulled out clean underwear and a t-shirt for me to sleep in and put me into bed.  I wanted to sleep forever.