I don’t know how long I just sat there and stared at nothing, the unhooked phone bleating at me in protest. But at some point, I crawled to the doorway and used the doorjamb to drag myself back up onto shaking legs.
Stumbling into the bathroom, I closed and locked the door as if the flimsy prefab could hold the awful world at bay.
I stripped, kicking the alien clothes and thong underwear into a corner, throwing the platinum wig after them. Avoiding my reflection, I turned on the shower and climbed inside while it was warming up. Goosebumps flared over my skin. Reaching for the soap, I cringed as I saw that had changed as well. Rather than the simple soap dish and hooked bottles for shampoo and conditioner, there was a shelved contrivance. My bar of Oil of Olay was gone, replaced by some brand I didn’t recognize and which smelled of musk. There were at least six brands of hair products as well as small flasks of oils and perfumes. A vibrator sat at attention in the corner of the highest shelf.
Turning away, I stepped under the stream of water, a shiver wracking through me. My home, my whole life, had been violated. But why? How? If only I could understand what was happening.
I scrubbed my face, my hair, every last inch of me. I kept staring at the drain thinking I would see something coming off of me, something to explain why everything had changed, but there was nothing.
Shivering as the water eventually turned cold, I shut off the shower and stepped out. I flinched as I reached for a towel, only now noticing their blood red color. Pushing myself, I took it anyway and used it rather than drip everywhere. Wrapped in it, I stared only at the carpet as I returned back to that awful bedroom to search for some clothes.
Opening drawer after drawer I just grew more and more disgusted. I’d always believed in having certain lacy items in reserve for special dates, but what I found bordered on the ridiculous, and so many of them looked to have been used as regular wear: thongs with the barest strings, crotchless panties, edible underwear, bras so sheer they left nothing to the imagination. There were even a few items I possessed no idea what they were or how anyone would wear them. I tore through the drawers’ contents, dumping the things on the floor as I grew more and more desperate to find something, anything close to normal.
Fighting back tears, I turned to the closet, already sure my search there would fare no better but refusing to give up. On one side I was surprised to find all my work jackets, slacks, skirts and blouses intact. Yet all my casual wear was gone, replaced by other things. As I shied away from leather items and slick black and white plastic get-ups, I noticed a box half hidden in the back. Not daring to hope, I pounced on it. The word ‘useless’ had been written on the side in my handwriting. I’d never seen it before.
Opening it flooded me with instant comfort. I’d found my non-work clothes—some of them, anyway. At the moment that didn’t matter, I was just thrilled to find something I knew without a doubt belonged to me, the ‘me’ I’d known all my life, not whatever or whoever I’d been for the last three months.
Because that really was the only explanation, wasn’t it? That I’d been someone else. Despite the fact it still made no sense whatsoever.
But I couldn’t deal with that, not at the moment. It was hard enough just swallowing the fact I’d somehow lost three months of my life. The likelihood I might be insane would have to wait.
After dragging out the box from the closet, I put things back where they belonged, kicking or throwing the other stuff toward the tiny trashcan in the corner. Some Hanes for Her and my flannel pajamas worked beautiful magic on my frightened soul. Going to the hall closet, I grabbed one of the extra blankets I kept there and headed for the living room. No way was I spending the night in that metallic four-poster bed.
I wanted, needed normalcy, and of the few rooms I’d braved looking at so far, the living room was the least changed, or unchanged enough I could pretend the rest of it away—for a while.
So I snuggled into the blanket on the couch, leaving all the lights on and stared at the mottled ceiling and wished for sleep to come so I could escape all this.
It was a long time coming…