TW: self-injury, self-blame, rape, anger, a lot of things. As you all know, I don’t put those “read more” labels on these suckers for nothing.

I’m obsessed with cleaning things, ever since the first time.

When I was a little kid, I was kind of a hoarder. I even kept candy wrappers, usually crammed them under my dresser. I vacuumed only as often as my mom forced me to.


It was bad enough after the first time someone crammed a hard, insistent, scalding piece of erectile tissue into me. That’s when I started cutting my fingernails right down to the quick the second they grew any white on the ends, picking the slightest trace of dead skin off my fingertips until they were bleeding, going into hysterics the second the tiniest whisper of stubble appeared on my freshly-shaved legs.


Over the years, it evolved. I was raped again; I started taking a pumice stone to my entire body, scrubbing raw spots onto my labia that have formed into ugly keloid scars, using a thick ten-gauge piercing needle to pick out imagined impurities, brushing my teeth sometimes six times a day. I can’t look at my crotch or the inside of my mouth anymore.

Eventually, I ran out of ways to keep the momentum. Now, I clean the things around me like I wish I could clean myself. I take the battery out of my phone, detail-clean it with a q-tip and isopropyl. I throw Comet around the bathtub like fairy dust, watch stains melt away with glee that borders on what I imagine inner peace to be like. I wash the dishes twice with the most concentrated biodegradable soap I can find.

I want nothing more than to feel clean again on the inside, so I can stop cleaning everything else.


If I could, I would wring myself out, let six years of semen drippings and nicotine and god knows what else has gotten inside me run off into a big bucket that I’d toss into an incinerator. I’d peel my skin off in rolls like wallpaper, put it in the washing machine with Tide and chlorine disinfectant and run it through the hottest cycle for as long as the timer would go. Hook my bloodstream up to a PUR water filter and pump it through until it fucking sparkled like in the commercials. I’d strip off layers of muscle and fat and lay them crosswise like marinating fillets in a tub of Clorox, I’d dip steel wool in Ajax and scour my bones to a sheen that any nineteen-fifties housewife would admire. I’d take apart everything, down to my fingernails and eardrums, polish them all up, put them back sparkling and faintly smelling of bleach.

I wouldn’t have to walk around all day thinking about my toxic teddy fluff that keeps me all plump and huggable until it gives someone asbestos poisoning. I would be pristine and virginal, I wouldn’t have to feel like the space behind the refridgerator where spiders live or whatever is caught in the weeds behind the garden shed.

I’d be okay again.