She has a routine.
It’s performed, to perfection, each and every time.
First, a shower.
Hot, but quick. No wasted water. She always makes sure to have shaved her legs the day prior, and only grazes a razor underneath her arms.
Stepping out of the porcelain bath, she rubs a towel up and down the length of her legs, before wrapping it tight around her torso.
Her skin, pink. It tingles.
She takes another towel and wraps it around her hair. After applying moisturizer to her face, she walks to the bedroom, always on her tiptoes so to stretch out her calves.
Underwear is black lace. Bra is thin mesh, some pink, but mostly black. Simple underwire. No padding.
She paints her face lightly, but deftly.
Concealer, blush, mascara.
A dark stain on her top and bottom lip.
She has never had the patience for eyebrows. The length of her eyelashes will play interference, should anyone get that close.
When someone gets that close.
She drinks a glass of acorn wine and hums a tune to which she can’t ever remember the words.
Her dress skims the tops of her knees. Its sleeves light as air.
Never stockings. Just a thin layer of shine that she applies with both hands.
Two minutes under the sun lamp and her hair has dried into soft autumn waves.
She leaves her glass, unwashed next to the kitchen sink.
Shoes, black. Heels.
Coat, long. Longer than her dress.
Her phone, IDs, and keys, bundled together into a small, well-worn purse.
She can feel the tears coming. Feel them rising from the pit of her stomach.
They are the ache of a cut never healed. Of a burn never cooled.
They are what she hopes to forget. What she seeks in the night’s lights and the pulse of others.
Walking to the tram, she opens the program.
Who would you like to erase?
She plugs in a name, and watches him fade.
Her heart twinges.
Can you miss someone you never knew? Are they gone if they were never there?
Questions she can’t ever solve.
On the tram, the other riders mill about, chittering like under-sexed chicadees.
The echoes of conversations bounce off of fidgety fingers and nervous smiles.
A young man sits down to her left and asks her to where is she going.
The compulsion to kiss his stupid mouth brings a flush to her cheeks.
At the club she makes her way to the front of the room.
Standing close to the stage, she feels the music grind its way under her skin.
Her heart hurts with each beat. Like it might punch through her chest.
It takes thirty minutes for the man to come to her. She cannot ever hear, because the base chips away at his words.
He motions to her face. To her body and hair.
She says nothing.
Her smile, tight.
She closes her eyes.
Resigns herself to her complicity for existing in this world.
She does nothing when he grabs her. He kisses her neck, grinds his groin into her ass, and brushes her breasts.
He then leaves, upset.
And she just stands there, feeling nothing.
No anger, or shame, or sadness.
Because this, and nothing else, will ever matter ever again.