We would get so bored on base that we would put an ice cube in a helmet and watch it melt. We would watch the clock too and bet on how long it took and whoever was the closest would dump the water from the ice cube wherever he wanted on whoever he wanted. It was some fun shit. And eventually we would be sent back out into that miserable fucking desert and maybe we would return fewer than when we left. And still we would get bored, put an ice cube in a helmet again and watch it melt.
The weight of human hair is truly frightening, she thought. Her fingers twined through the thick, dark curls, careful to avoid the scalp.
The last thing she wanted to do was touch the man.
She worked silently, the glint of her rings shining in the tall mirror leaned against the wall across the room. She gathered the locks, reveling in their weight, and rejoiced in the slow scrape of the razor.
Strands pooled at her feet, like her dress so often did when he came to see her.
The power was never in the hair, not truly. It was beautiful and lustrous, yes — but still only hair. The power had come with time and careful planning. A whisper from her lips at his ear. A quiver of a smile when their eyes met. A glance that spoke of all she could grant him, if he only did as she bid.
With all that and more she had hauled this man, all the muscle and sinew of him, out of obscurity and into the velvet folds of luxury.
But he forgot. In his revelry, surrounded by a world who thought him second only to God, he forgot who truly held the power.
He forgot where his allegiance was owed.
A long, torturous scrape of blade on flesh and the final strand fluttered to the marble. It tickled her toes as she stepped around the chair and considered the unconscious man tied to it.
When he woke, he would remember who he’d been without her. All his beauty, his brawn and his might, wasted without her vision and mind.
She stood before him, the mirror behind her, and smiled.
He would remember, because she had made herself unforgettable.
The lone stall before me is clogged with toilet paper, the runny contents dripping to the floor. I slink back to the urinal, shaking, reluctant to look my nemesis head on.
The ceramic is unusually white. A fresh puck lies atop the drain, covered in a scoopful of ice, like a margarita awaiting one final ingredient, a splash of yellow.
The door to the bathroom bursts open. The man strides towards me, his footsteps booming. I can already tell he’s going to be a talker. I turn back towards the urinal and think wet thoughts. Niagara Falls. A leaky faucet. My impending tears.
I feel his breath on my neck; it smells of stale beer and cigarettes. There are three urinals, but he’s chosen the middle one, of course he has.
He throws a hand on the wall. It takes a second or two and then the levee breaks. It sounds like a firehose. At this point, I’d be happy with a squirt gun.
His eyes are upon me. “Don’t you just hate urinals?”
My heart stops. How can he tell? He’s two drinks from a coma. I’m surprised he can stand.
“Well?” A toothy grin.
There’s something playful in his voice, like a child who just started a knock knock joke. His puerility lowers my guard. I think back to his question. Don’t I hate urinals?
He can’t contain his amusement. “They’re where all the dicks hang out.” He roars with laughter, his stream careening off the lip of the bowl and spraying in my direction.
I slide to avoid the splash zone, my movement instinctual. With the pressure off, the volume flows, to my shoes at first, but at least it’s flowing.
I raise my stream higher, like an elephant shooting water from its trunk. I aim for a piece of chewing gum, as if a target in a pinball game.
I’m doing it. I’m really doing it. And the world needs to know. I feel like a first grader showing off his finger painting. I toss my hands behind my head and turn towards the man.
But he’s gone, the unflushed urinal the only evidence he was ever here. A second man steps to the far bowl. He catches my open stance and gives me a funny look.
I grin. “Don’t you just hate urinals?”
He comes in every Wednesday afternoon and sits in front of the counter for about an hour. He’s an artist. I can tell by the way his dark eyes take in everything around him, including me. I wonder, has he memorized every line of my face, every freckle of my skin as I have of his?
He leaves his sketchbook behind one day. I can’t resist, I wait for him to leave and seize it; but, inside, I don’t find a masterful portrait of myself, just a bundle of incomplete Tuesday crossword puzzles. He was not an artist after all.
“Everyone will hurt you,” she said.
“But are you worth it?” I asked bitterly, and while chewing my lower lip for nerves. “Worth hurting for?”
Her eyes skittered away. And from her own sleeve, tentatively–a question–she removed a hand that was even more disfigured than mine, bruised and welted with a range of marks: old scabs and new, and with a stump in the fourth position–no finger.
“I don’t know,” she said.