The first weird thing is that I was in the bath at all. It was summer in Perth. But the sky was overcast and it was drizzling.
The second weird thing is that, upon close examination of my arms and legs, I discovered tiny clumps of sunscreen in every wrinkle and fold, even in the small creases on my knuckles and the sides of my kneecaps. This shouldn’t have been a shock, given that I purchased this lotion from a pharmacist who said this brand was especially thick as it was originally created “for burn victims who spend loads of time in the sun.” I thought this was an unusual way to sell something, to mention burn victims that is, but what can I say, it worked.
After my bath, I put on my sundress with pockets and small pleats, and googled “exfoliating brush.” I found one with 44 positive reviews including a comment that declared, in all caps, I CAN REACH MY BACK. One week later, a rectangular package arrived from a shop in Sydney, and that night I stood in the shower and vigorously scrubbed my entire body. As I watched flakes of dead skin and old sunscreen wash down the drain, I felt happy because I was fixing something. Goodbye old me.
Attached to the end of the brush was a rope loop. I stuck an adhesive hook next to the towel rack and hung up my new toy. It looked like a prickly oar.
In the morning, I spotted one long, blond hair hanging from its bristles. My husband has coarse black hair, and my daughters are brunettes. I am gray. Holding the hair, I walked to the living room and said to my husband, hey look what I found in my exfoliating brush. He was playing guitar and was annoyed by the interruption. It’s my mistress, he said with a straight face. She’s been exfoliating in our bathroom. I’m serious, I said, don’t you think that’s weird. He shrugged his shoulders and strummed the theme from the X-Files.
The next day I found a small black pebble, and the day after that, a single blade of green grass. Come on, I begged him, this is weird. Stuff keeps appearing in my exfoliating brush. Every time you say exfoliating brush, he said as he laced up his sneakers, you sound like an old lady.
One morning it was a tiny yellow feather and another, a white petal. The day the dishwasher broke it was a perfectly round shell with a swirled pattern, and the morning after they canceled the fireworks due to a plane crash, I found a piece of pink yarn. Each of these surprises I plucked from the brush and deposited in a brown canvas pouch I got for free at a trade show. I stopped telling my husband about all this because he was completely disinterested which angered me to no end. You might think he was playing a trick but that is not his sort of thing.
Yesterday I got up early to write a condolence letter to my old boss who had recently lost her husband. I didn’t like this woman much, but had a fond memory of her husband from a company Christmas party that I thought I might share with her. When I went to the bathroom I checked the brush out of habit, and there, tucked in the middle of the bristles was a small folded piece of white paper. I sat on the edge of the bathtub and opened it. Written in blue cursive was the following:
I was very sorry to learn of Stan’s passing. I enjoyed meeting him at our company Christmas party and wanted to share something he whispered to me as you were making your toast that night. You were thanking the board of directors and making a joke about term limits. He leaned over to me and said, “Isn’t she amazing? I am the luckiest guy in the world.” I was very touched by his sincerity and thought I would pass on that remark to you, during what I imagine to be a very difficult time.
Thinking of you,
I walked this tiny note to my desk and copied it word for word onto my engraved stationery. Then I refolded it and added it to my canvas pouch. As I drank tea and watched the sun rise over my neighbor’s house, I silently thanked the exfoliating brush for providing this perfect condolence letter to my old boss.
This morning the brush was gone. I looked under the sink, behind the tub, and in the shower. The adhesive hook now looked out of place. I peeled it off the wall and tossed it in the bin. I slathered myself with sunscreen and went to the beach.