Cleanliness – SHORT STORY

      YOU CANNOT CLEAN your hands in dirty water – 0h, and how long I had been trying. All that scrubbing, inspecting my only skin under all the light, all that soap, lathering up into a froth, until every speck of dirt was purged into the filthy basin that looked so pristine once, slurped at by the gurgling spoked sink hole.
Turning the tap off, I dared to look in the mirror dappled with toothpaste and flossing collateral. I dry my hands and look at them, front and back, with a detachment as if viewing exhibits in a museum of sickness.

Nobody ever told me, you can’t clean your insides but I tried. I’d been bleaching the hallways of my within vicariously, gallon barrels kicked over, scorching through the dead life, cleansing with harsh notes, a burning sensation without degrees.
And so I stood outside, with clean hands and a book – of matches. The quickest quick read. With the reek of petrol fresher than destruction coating the paintwork of the building, I lit three on the strip, tossing them into the flammable.

With each change in colour I felt cleaner, and by the time the building caught the entire attention of the fire, my mind felt lighter as demons exited through solid bone. Burn in hell is a common phrase. Seems a little distant. Now is better.

Patient confidentiality with my psychologist, let me tell the stories. I think they were eager to assist me now we had worked through several sessions. Eager was the wrong word – perhaps, bound? Underneath my confessions, I sensed fear. Of their workplace. Of their car. Of their possessions, all going up in smoke.

And I learned every issue I had could be neatly summarised into one word: transference; my inner fury had to have an outlet, I had to get clean somehow – fire – the other soap. Fixing years of damage would not be easy Dr. S. Galloway assured me. It would be a long road to recovery. All I could think was, are roads flammable?


lion around 2

37 thoughts on “Cleanliness – SHORT STORY”

  1. And just another amazing story as I step into your place! Wish I was back earlier and read is sooner.
    As always, Lion, brilliant as always!

  2. Another short hit, well done 😊.
    Intentionally using the fact that arsonists are more likely to have suffered an abusive childhood, hence the washing and bleaching and therapy? Or a spookily profound bit of insight?

    1. Ta babbitman ☺
      This story came to me quite organically, its hard to out my finger on the intentionality, but I would imagine someone predisposed to burning and destruction would have plenty unresolved issues.
      As for insight, I swear I havent set any buildings on fire lol

      1. You’re welcome, Fionn. 🙂 (Magarisa is my alias; “magari” is my favourite word in Italian because of its versatility.)

  3. That had a nice dose of sardonic muse at the end and the creepy fact of all those holding said keys, are they safe? Loved the intro and a thorough building of the characters flaws and insecurities and psychiatric potential, and lo…there he was. And so short – I read short stories that are flat and with nothing in them, hence their length so, amazing, again.

  4. Seriously! I was hooked from the first line and as the story progressed, I loved how you introduced the element of fire. If water doesn’t clean, fire’s the next best thing right? Fantastic job!!

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