No matter how loud or quiet things got, in our house and in our heads, we could always count on one thing. The towels on the rack were always clean, perfectly folded, an inch of space between. They were nice towels, so nice we never used them. We just wiped our hands on our jeans.
When my big sister and I shared a room, she put up a poster of my worst nightmare —Freddy Krueger. She refused to take it down, so my mom had a wall built right through the center of our room. I remember my mom talking to the contractor as he smoothed the drywall, a delicate process. She had that laugh, the fake one, the one that said, ‘You love me, don’t you?” She ended up marrying that construction guy. My sister married a guy with the last name Krueger.
I have never married because they mostly taught me what not to do.
My sister cannot touch a towel. She hates the texture so much it causes distress. I’m not sure how she dries herself.
There was a time my sister did touch a towel, for me. Only a shower curtain between us, torn open. My neck was tied to the shower faucet with the cord of a curling iron. Eyes bulging red, limbs flapping. My mom broke her arm cutting me down. I screamed, blood pouring from a broken tongue.
My sister put a towel in my mouth and I bit down.
My sister grew up to be a Barbie in her dream house. In her bathroom hang the perfect towels, the ones no one is to touch. I have ruined her for her children; their showers are never short enough.
I can hear my mother’s laugh again, through the barrier that divides us.
I wonder what was ever so frightening about Freddy Krueger.
Carrie Lynn Hawthorne is a writer, mother, and yoga teacher from Pasadena, CA. She seeks spiritual purpose, being of service, and belly laughs.