I was washing my hands at the sink,
The half bath, next to the stairs.
The suds rolled off my palms, sticking in the lines and wrinkles of my wrists.
The dirt washed down the rabbit hole, and I envied it always.
But then, quite suddenly,
A vague memory of my childhood snapped into existence, before slowly fading,
Leaving a negative after-image on my vision, blinding me momentarily.
It almost hurt, that sudden, white hot recollection of things come and gone;
It felt like a hole had been bored through the years, like the layers of rocky crust were parting inside my
Head, uncovering some overlooked, minute detail.
It had taken five years, but I now understood. I could understand.
The sink gushed water over my hands, and I stood there,
Waiting for my eyes to adjust to the blinding light coming from the hole in my mind.
The soap lingered on the porcelain edges of the bowl.
Her name is Adelaide. Never Adi. Always her full name.
She is an ever growing list of contrasts.
Her silence and seclusion envelop her love for punk music, and her cracked, dry hands are
The finest, most precise tools I have ever seen drift across a canvas.
Entire worlds form under her dry skin, faraway lands in vibrant hues dusted with
The flaking remnants of her palms, a blizzard on another planet.
Her paintings move us all, in ways that twelve year olds never could have considered on their own,
And the carefully chosen words she often declines to use
Are far too mature for her short hair, pale, snowy skin, and flowered dresses.
We had once been friends, Adelaide and I, but, as it often happens
In these overzealous social institutions, sometimes mistakenly labeled "places of learning",
People talked. And Adelaide listened. And I ran away and hid.
We share a class for an hour a day, one which I deem a waste of my
Valuable, middle school time and attention.
Cooking class seems, to me, a redundancy, probably because nearly everything I eat
Has the microwave instructions printed neatly on the side of the packaging.
I beam at my superiority over my brainwashed classmates:
"Oh, you still cook over gas lit fires? I bombard my food with electromagnetic radiation."
I like to imagine that our teacher, the patron of these ancient methods,
Has some sort of illness of the mind
Which instructs her to put a black-light next to each mock kitchen's sink in her classroom.
She wants us to see the vileness of the human epiderm,
The grotesque amount of filth we carry into her spotless room on our hands,
The deadly bacteria manifesting themselves in our very beings,
Corrupting our feeble attempts at rolling out the perfect pie crust.
"Wash your hands until you can't see anything under the light," she says.
Not one of us can scrub enough of ourselves away to meet her expectations,
None, except Adelaide.
Her spotless fingernails, cuticles, and cracked, reddened knuckles shine with irritation and
A complete lack of the vile, human contamination that the rest of us
Cannot seem to shake.
"Keep scrubbing," our teacher says.
We have not stopped scrubbing since.
I turned the faucet and the stream of water slowed to a drip.
The soap had finally fallen down the drain.
Adelaide, the sweet little girl of flaking, angry palms and beautiful paintings.
What were you washing away?