Monday, December 31, 2007

The Shower Drain

A Short Story

I am 60 years old. In the 50 years that I've showered, which are all the showers of my life, I have never stepped on the drain. Not in basic training, not in my $81 per month early adult apartment, not in the 48th floor suite in the Four Seasons, not at my home of 20 years. Never.

Simple prudence dictates the care with which I've carefully shuffled my feet across the limited stage of 18,000 solo shower performances. So far, my care has been well taken. While I’m comfortable that the risks of accidentally sliding down the drain are limited, I figure them to be less than one in six, elementary math informs me that the alternative approaches certainty. Should I ever, even once, put so much as a toe on the drain, it will be instantly grabbed in a grasp I will be unable to break. By that toehold I will then be dragged, nearly instantly but certainly not silently, body and soul to where my nightmare lives and where it has waited my entire life for the singular opportunity presented by even a fraction of a second of my inattention.

I do not know why it is so particularly attracted to me, why others have no apparent need to fear. I cannot tell you how it knows above which portal I will dance every morning, most days at home but on others in venues across the country. All I know for certain is that it abides, and watches and tenses with anticipation while waiting for my single misstep.

I know that others hold little, or perhaps no, attraction for it. They step about, and on, the shower drain with impunity, without a care or concern or an inkling of the risk, completely oblivious to the mortal danger less than an inch away. How fortunate to them is the bliss of their innocence.

I wish I could be as carefree as they, how simple life would then seem. But vigilance is my only security and I cannot relax. Even a single blink of inattention would bring me to terminal, and for all I know, eternal, doom.

Fortunately for me, my family and friends, coworkers and colleagues, the diligence I’ve practiced so very carefully every day as I soap and lather, scrub and rinse, has worked.

I’m still here.

Until tomorrow.

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