The sponge lying on the floor of the tub is unattractive. It is still relatively new, but its shape is unappealingly squat and it has sooty stains on it, as if someone has been scrubbing rust crumbs off their body.
It is leftover, this sponge, from previous tenants. It is incredibly absorbing, I find, when I get in the shower and begin to use it. Some people would find this disgusting. My roommate would tell me off, like she does when I pee and don’t wash my hands. She is a neat freak, putting ever pin in its place and surrendering her body to the needle over and over again. There are knife scars on the inside of her wrist. She’s exchanged one habit with another when scratching the surface stopped being enough.
She and I have just moved into a new place. We’re getting actual furniture. We listen to music loudly and don’t care about the neighbors. There are children in the apartments all around us and they cry at night. It’s not exactly payback, blasting Led Zeppelin, but it’s close enough to be vindictive somehow.
The windfall that has allowed us to do this comes from my disgusting habits. My frugality knows no bounds. I scrimp and I save for a living. Companies pay me to do this. It’s a handicap that I stumbled through for years until someone told me it was a talent. I get paid nicely now, but I make my roommate pay me back exactly for half of everything. When we move out one day, each of us finding a new home, we will saw our things in half. I can see the gleam in her eyes at that suggestion. She likes playing with knives.
My room is bare of artwork, books, personality of any kind. Like me, it is unadorned. The only items of significance are hidden beneath my bed, in taped-up boxes. The cardboard is old and falling apart, but I wouldn’t let me roommate unpack and repack them when we moved. Their rotting edges remind me that they won’t always stay shut. It’s important to remember that things can burst from their seams.
One day, maybe I’ll open those boxes. And maybe I’ll buy a sponge of my own. But for now, I keep the boxes shut tight, reinforcing the tape and sweeping away the cardboard dust that accumulates under them. And for now, I use the leftover sponge to purify my pores. I shave my legs with my roommate’s old razor. I tie string around my pants instead of a belt. It’s a good enough way to live, for now.