Invitation to a Cleansing

We’re here, you and I, in this room, and I’m away from home and you nudge me and you wink and you say,

‘Course you can. Yes, you can. You’re dirty and you’re flirty and why not, now you’re alone?

And I’m appalled and I don’t know what to say, and I read the words again, and my collar constricts, and I gulp, because this isn’t me.

But it is, you say. Holiday Inn for the night. On business. Everyone does, you say.

“What about the children?” I ask.

“You must get children in here. What are they supposed to make of this?”

They won’t get it. They’ll just use me. But not in the way you’re going to use me.

You naughty boy.

You dirty boy.

Lather yourself up. Why don’t you? Temporarily single, here for a convention, no different from any of the others.

I know.

And you stand, agape, and you look at the small print on the shower gel bottle,

As it implies what you want to do with it, with yourself, when you are alone.

Because that’s what packaging does now.

And you return to the room, and you pick up your fruit juice,

And you’re about to clean out your dirty mouth and your dirty mind –

And then you read the bottom,

And it tells you what it wants to do with its bottom,

Embossed right there on the plastic,

Because this is normal now,

And you decide that next time you’ll make do with water.

Or just stay home instead.

Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including a 2018 play about Groucho Marx. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, the Blake-Jones Review, Bitchin’ Kitsch, the Cabinet of Heed, the Potato Soup Journal, and the Trouvaille Review.

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