Letters by Kenny Mah

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Waking and washing

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June 15, 2008

Hey you,

We have our routine.

You wake up first, usually. You sit on the bed, trying to shake last night’s dreams off, slowly letting the day sink in. I’m awake too, but most mornings you don’t notice this. I lie on my side of our bed, still snug and lost in the rolls of the comforter and the bedspread. I can only see your back and not your face. Eventually, you get up and you remove your bedclothes, carefully setting them aside. I watch you as you pad into the bathroom, a vision of the perfect day, of the sweet years to come.

I wake to beauty each morning.

Soon enough I rustle myself from semi-slumber and I follow your footsteps, I enter the bathroom as the second guest, always. You’d have finished brushing your teeth by now, or almost anyway, and you’d have laid my toothbrush beside the wash basin, with a smear of toothpaste squeezed onto it already. As I brush my teeth, you start the shower, you test the water, letting it run till it is warm enough. When I wash alone, I like it hot enough to scald, but when we wash together, we just need it warm enough to smooth the night’s aches away, to awaken us a second time.

It’s warm enough, the water. You draw the curtains. I spit the foam of the toothpaste into the washbasin and I rinse my mouth. Time to join you. I draw the curtains back and I climb into the tub. You’re soaking yourself, allowing your skin to be wet enough for the facial cleanser. You always wash your face first. I lay my hands on your shoulder, and your tender neck. I knead and I massage your flesh, till it gives in to the pressure. We sigh together, pelted by hot water and the promises of a perfect day, of more sweet years like this.

We pass products back and forth. Shower gel. Shampoo. Hair moisturizer. Facial cleanser. A scrub, either for the body or the face, which one I can’t tell. We’re blinded by the soap, the foam, the healthy beads of Cleanliness we’re coating ourselves with. And then we wash it all off.

Always, I finish first. I’m impatient for the gentle caress of the towels, the flurried scrubbing till we’re dry and warm. I dry myself and then I grab your towel and pass it to you, along with the first kiss of the day, a brief and quiet kiss. I have to help dry yourself cos you usually miss a spot or two. Even if you don’t, I enjoy wrapping you round in my towel. We can hold on to this for a moment longer. Before we have to face the cold rush of air as we open the bathroom door into the bedroom once more. Before we have to dress and get ready for work. Before breakfast.

But that is another routine altogether…

Yours always and always,

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