Later in the shower, she let the water drum over her skin, flatten her hair to dark oil down her back, and create a tunnel of sound that mixed with the noise of the storm’s increasing rancor. Every few minutes, she listened for Prairie and then turned the overhead rush back on.
How like Julian she seemed to me, letting the water wash her and then batter her.
When finally her fingers and toes had puckered, she turned off the water for the final time. She stood stock-still, knowing the shadow waited for her behind the curtain. She could feel its nearness, loathsome and needing her. She pushed back the plastic, heavy with hard water stains, the curtain rings scratching along the aluminum rod. The shadow sat on the closed toilet lid, its legs drawn up.
Water ran off Willow’s breasts, over her spongy belly, and from her kneecaps. She stared, less afraid this time. Derrick would never touch her again, but she hadn’t told him to leave because doing so would free him to go to Mary, where he’d be happy. As long as he slept on the sofa, with Papa visiting every evening to be sure he was home—under the guise of wanting to hold Prairie—Derrick was miserable. Miserable. She hadn’t even told him she knew he’d been with Mary because bringing up that bit of news would also force a showdown guaranteed to end in his leaving and going to her. So he remained, not because there was any hope for them, but because she fed more on her anger than she did on milk, vegetables, and protein. All the while, she passed her loathing of him into her breast milk, making it worse than anything in the refrigerator, feeding Prairie swill.
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