Throwing in the Towel

I groaned as the last box thudded to the ground. Sweat pooled uncomfortably in my bra. All I wanted was to take a long shower and scrub away the evidence of my hours of physical labor. I’d forgotten how much I hated moving, but when you catch your former roommate fucking the guy from the truck stop in your bed, you know it’s time to part ways.

Two weeks later I had paid the deposit on a two bedroom house for rent over by the old churchyard. The place was a bargain, it had been empty since the previous tenants moved out in the middle of the night, leaving behind all of their possessions. Some minor trouble with the law, the landlord had said, but he wouldn’t quite meet my gaze when he said it. It didn’t matter. The place was available and within my budget, especially after I had to shell out nearly a grand to get out of my previous lease.

Six days later, I had packed all of my belongings. Everything fit into the back of my SUV. I’d left the bed behind—some stains just don’t come out—and didn’t have any other furniture to move. She’d already had everything when I’d moved in with her two years earlier.

I groaned when I popped my head into the bathroom. Of course it couldn’t have conveniently provided sliding glass doors. I’d forgotten about that during my hasty preparations. Buying a shower curtain was the last thing on my mind.

I flipped the bolt on the front door and then began sorting through my boxes. I knew one of them would contain my bathroom essentials.

An hour later I had scrubbed out the tub and filled it with hot water. Who needed a bed when you could take a hot bath?

I swear I only closed my eyes for a moment, but when I opened them, the water had gone cold and my toes were all pruny. I dunked my head under the water to rinse the last of the conditioner from my hair. Wiping at my eyes with one hand, I groped for the towel I’d dropped on the lid of the toilet before stepping into the tub. My fingers met nothing but cold porcelain.

I opened my eyes, regretting it instantly as soapy water ran into them. I swore up a storm, turned on the tap, and rinsed them out.

I looked about the bathroom, my towel nowhere to be seen. I groaned and stood up, wringing out my hair into the tub as the water slowly spiraled down the drain. I shook my legs over the tub as I stepped out, doing a ridiculous dance that nearly led me to overbalancing. My arms windmilled about, spraying water in every direction.

At least I lived alone and there was no one around to witness me making a fool of myself.

Water puddled under my feet as I walked naked into the living room. There was no way in hell I was going to attempt to towel off with my nasty, sweat-soaked clothes.

The box containing my towels was open, one towel dropped haphazardly on top of it. I grabbed it and gratefully dried off before wrapping it around my body. As stressed as I was, it wasn’t hard to believe that I’d forgotten to take it with me. I grabbed a second towel and wound it around my hair.

That night I slept on the ground, wrapped in my thick comforter.

When I woke, the lights in the kitchen were on.

I grabbed my bottle of shampoo and went into the living room. The bolt on the door was still locked. I kept the bottle raised up as I went from room to room. They were all empty. All of the windows were still locked.

A bit spooked, I returned the shampoo bottle to the bathroom. When I went out to buy a shower curtain and a new bed later that day, I was going to invest in a baseball bat and can of pepperspray.

When I returned home, a bed delivery set up for the following morning, my closet doors were open and all of my clothes were neatly hung up in the closet.

“I know you’re in here,” I dropped the bags and hefted the baseball bat. “What games are you playing?”

There wasn’t a response. That night I slept with my hand wrapped around the baseball bat.

In the morning, I found all of my DVDS unpacked neatly onto the built-in shelves in the living room.

I showered—hot, blissful shower courtesy of my new shower curtain—after my bed arrived and again found that my towel was missing. I stalked into the living room, planted my hands on my hips, and scowled around the empty room.

“Look. Whatever you are. Whoever you are. I appreciate the help unpacking. But stealing my towel has got to stop.”

I heard the faint sound of giggling. “I’m serious.”

Something soft brushed against my arm. My towel. Floating in the air as if held by an invisible hand. When I reached to grab it, it snaked around my body and I could feel ghostly fingers tucking the end in at my cleavage.

“Ghost? Poltergeist?” I suppose it was better than somebody breaking into my apartment. Somewhat. It was definitely better than coming home to finding my bed being despoiled by my roommate.

I clutched the towel to my waist. “The bathroom is off-limits.” Because obviously I had authority over this ghost. Laughter trailed after me as I stomped to my room, still sopping wet.

I slammed the door behind me.

Eventually my ghost and I fell into a routine. He would hide my towel, I would trail water over the apartment in an effort to find where he had hidden it, and in return, he would keep the place picked up. All in all, this wasn’t a bad place to live.

Home sweet home.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

1 Comment

  • Rene says:

    This is the kind of haunting I need lol. I can put up with a lot as long as I get housekeeping out of the deal :)

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