Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flash Fiction by A.J. Huffman

Why I Choose To De-Stress in the Shower

Milk baths are supposed to be relaxing.  I do not find them to be so.  The strange feeling of milk trickling over my skin is odd, disconcerting, as if I were sitting in a giant bowl of cereal and I am a rapidly-sogging grainy flake.  I feel as if I am waiting for some unseen hand to swoop down with an enormous spoon, scoop me up, devour me.  Or worse, I am a cookie bobbing, softening, every second of submersion weakening my body, breaking it down, making it easier to dissolve between anonymous dentures once gnarled fingers manage to maneuver me up to cragged lips, barely parted.

Bubble baths used to be a possibility, until I realized the softly-scented glycerin drops are only a dash of aroma therapy oil away from the detergent I use in my kitchen sink.  Suddenly the loofa I use to scrub my back feels like steel wool, and I am a casserole dish, a day’s worth of cheese baked to my sides.  I scour until I bleed, but realize the only real hope of salvation would be to slip from my own hands, crash into a million useless pieces on the tile floor.

Plain soap and a tub full of warm water was effective, until I heard the parable about the frog and the boiling kettle.  The frog would not jump into the boiling kettle, because, obviously, it was boiling.  However, the frog jumped right into a warm kettle, and happily stayed there as it warmed to boiling, because it happened slowly over a long period of unnoticeable time.  Suddenly, I am bathing in arctic water, unable to bring my hand to reach for, let alone activate the hot valve, turn myself into frog soup.

So for now I stick with the shower, content to clean myself in the sanity of the regulated auto-draining spray of its head.  The process safe from strangulated semi-psychedelic mind-trips, at least as long as no thoughts of subterranean water systems collecting acid reign creep into my head, begin dripping into my pipes.

A.J. Huffman has published nine solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. She also has two new full-length poetry collections forthcoming: Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press) and A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing).  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, haiku and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.