Not Her

I stand in his bathroom, in front of the mirror, and wipe the steam away in a slow circle, giving myself a porthole view of myself. I’m slowly suffocating in here, the thick fog caused by the scalding hot shower I just took lingers in the air. I half expect to hear a fog horn blaring, but I do not. I peer at myself closely so I can see my face. My glasses are off and I can barely make out my features, but I grab my eyeliner and apply it, praying I am putting it on evenly. My skin is starting to sweat from the steam and my hair is sticking to my forehead and neck. I hate that, and in a futile effort, try to brush the damp hair away from me. He knocks on the door and asks to come in. I hope he doesn’t have to pee; I’m not comfortable enough with him to have him take a piss with me two feet away from him. I tell him to come in anyway, and he stands behind me, staring at my refection in the hole I’ve made in the mirror. I smile at him in the mirror, but he just keeps staring, his eyes quizzing me behind his round glasses frames. I ask him if there is anything he needs or wants. He says yes, and walks over to the cabinet by the sink and opens it up. He reaches in and pulls out a bottle of perfume. I scrunch my eyebrows down, as I’m confused as to why he has this, but then I remember it was probably his ex-girlfriend’s and she had left it there. Here, he says, as he hands the bottle to me. Put this on, I want you to smell like her. I’m stunned by what he just said, and laugh. I turn to face him, to see if he’s joking, but his hard eyes tell me he is not. Are you serious, I ask. Yes, he says. I want you to smell like her. I grab the bottle from him and gingerly spritz the perfume on my neck and wrists. He comes closer to me and puts his face close to my neck, breathing deeply, and exhales slowly. I tense up as he puts his hands on my shoulders and whispers in my ear, you may smell like her, but you’ll never be her, and he walks out of the bathroom.

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