When his sexless marriage ended in divorce, New Man started gathering up every last bit of himself that his body shed. Weekly, he scraped up the soapy fuzz balls that collected in the shower drain. He swept up all the medium-length hairs that carpeted his apartment and signaled the onset of male-pattern baldness that ruined his grandfather.
He gave in and BICed his head, then his pubes, swirling the rusty, shower-shelf razor in a cracked Rubbermaid half-filled with yellowish water from the tap. He even razored his belly, subsequently drizzling the soup of sticky white foam and black specks over the mound of debris building up in the bedroom.
Like dressing over salad, he thought, and tossed the blade in for good measure.
At night, New Man lay awake, looking at his hands, pondering cell turnover.
He thought about all the bits of dead skin sloughing off his body every day, going uncollected. Millions of cells. Gazillions. He began shaking out his sheets every morning, which stirred up all the loose particles. When he finished, he stepped out, waited thirty minutes for the dust to settle, then went back in and swept it all into the corner again.
This routine continued for some time, but the collection grew too slowly for New Man’s impatience.
He ordered one of those disc-shaped robot vacuums next-day-delivery from Amazon Prime and kept it on 24/7.
A week later, he stopped at a Home Depot sale on impulse and purchased an industrial air filtration system that took up most of the living room, which he kept running day and night, too.
Sunday was New Man’s favorite day, when he emptied both filters at once and got to see his pile of refuse jump in size.
Just a few more weeks, he thought.
The factory-like din persisted, and the wet, ape-nesty musk wafting out from under New Man’s bedroom door grew more pungent by the day.
Then, finally, after a nap in which he dreamt of David Attenborough giving consensual head to Elon Musk, New Man decided it was time.
He pushed the blanket off himself, went to the bedroom, and shoved open the door, which was partially blocked from the inside. The collection now was almost up to his neck.
Toenail clippings clung like coconut flakes onto balls of dust and bath scum big enough to play a game of two on two. Liters of urine pooled around gelatinous stalagmites of eye goop and minty, semi-dry, post-brush spit.
New Man stood looking at the heap. Discarded bits, spurned by his own body—all of it unwanted. Then, pulling in a single, diaphragmatic breath, New Man dove headfirst into the putrid lake that he had so diligently hoarded.
He swam with purpose, breast-stroking through every last layer of Old Self, diving down, opening his eyes beneath the surface, running through the final words of every supposedly kind rejection on Earth:
Thanks for understanding. Really.
Thanks for understanding.
Thanks for understanding.
Benjamin Faro is a writer living in Asunción, Paraguay. Sunrise is his favorite time to work, and his most recent prose is forthcoming in Invisible City.
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