I stood in the shower a long time and imagined getting out, taking my towel from the hook and wrapping it around my body, and then unclipping my hair and shaking it loose and bunching the curls between my fingers, and walking back to my dorm room. My room is clean. Nothing else, lately, has been in manageable order, but my bed is made and I have three posters on the wall. I matched the colors: the green in the art print with the green in Vivian Leigh’s dress with the green in the pine trees and the mountain lake. It is a drawing of some national park in New York; I have lately begun to hate the countryside and everything associated with the pastoral, thanks to my mother’s insistence on endless yard work and my preference for being a dysfunctional bitch, but I still like the drawing. I want to go to New York – I have made it the romantic endpoint of all my dreams. I am capable of realism, however. I put my mouth up to the shower nozzle and softly choke and know that even if I want sex and art in big, foreign cities, I will most likely end up alone. Small people living between small lines, the edges all scrabbly with pen marks. My life is, I think, a sort of sketch, the sort of thing drawn by some hormonal girl in the edges of her math notes. I am still in the shower.
Later, I am in the library and I stare out the window with my computer open and idling in front of me. There are several grand trees outside, the leaves turning orange and red on the tips. The people sitting around me are working: the girl in the blue bucket-hat is writing quickly with a blue pen; the tall boy with the clipped hair gets up, stretches, refills his water-bottle, his girlfriend reading philosophy. I do not currently have a boyfriend – I do not even have someone to politely stalk and imagine naked. This is unfortunate, from an artistic standpoint. Three new emails – people saying they understand why I was not in class (again) and that they will not mark the essay or composition or quiz late. What a fucking fantastic support system. The trees outside are weighed down with the grey; my hair is sticky and heavy. I lied: I did not shower, I have not showered for the past two days. I suppose if I do go to New York, I’ll end up as one of those insane mentally ill people, scavenging for needles behind dumpsters. I would really prefer to work at a posh law firm and wear thrifted, designer trench coats and seductively reapply red lipsticks as the clients talk and moan. Then I would go back to some apartment with carefully coordinated wall art and make love with a dark-haired man, his tongue curling into the places behind my teeth and poking – poking – poking. The sex is good, I tell everyone. My friends smile jealously over the champagne flutes. It’s just so good, I say.
Tomorrow when I wake up I will not think about today, because today has been so worthless it does not rank. I am not a nihilist – contrary to the themes expressed in my internet poetry, I am quite religious. But I am lately too obsessed with staring out windows and imagining the convenient ways medication will strip the smiling, thrashing people from the corners of my head and how this will probably fuck up my poetry. I am, I guess, sick of making myself a stereotype. I step out of the shower, taking my towel from the white hook and wrapping it around my body, squeezing out my hair with the other hand. I have an essay to write and a chapter to read and more and more late assignments. I wanted to go to Oxford or Princeton or at least South Korea or Europe. I have hobbies and a social life and I exercise regularly. I lean my head against the tile and let the water beat – beat – beat into my head, imagining it is the man’s tongue and I am having sex in a faraway city. Outside the window of my apartment the sky falls and the earth carefully explodes and I do not notice; I am still in the shower.