Do Not Touch

For me it ends like this: with someone else’s vibrator, on someone else’s sheets. But it doesn’t start there. It starts the day I first dip a spoon into someone else’s crockpot. Or the day I rifle through someone else’s medicine cabinet. Or the day I sit on someone else’s sofa reading a poem that makes my mascara clump and sludge and slide down my face, sticky black teardrops clinging to my chin.
The truth is, I don’t know exactly when it starts. But I know what I am wearing. I see myself very clearly, in bright white Keds and the pantyhose with a run behind the left knee. I am wearing a starched white apron and an impractical green-striped skirt and I look like a fucking green peppermint. I’m supposed to look this way. Spearmint Maid Service: So Fresh and So Clean.
All the housewives speak in sticky notes, squawking instructions in big bold letters like I can’t read lower case.
“DO NOT put silk clothes in the dryer.”
“When you scrub the floorboards DO NOT use bleach. Non-toxic cleaner only!!!”
“The rocking horse in the playroom is an antique. The horsehairs are made of real horsehair. DO NOT TOUCH!!”
But I do. I touch. The more they tell me not to, the more I taste it on my tongue. When the lonely housewives go to their luncheons, I stroke the horsehair. I leave thumbprints on the poetry books. I lick a sterling silver spoon and swirl my saliva into a simmering pot roast. I touch and touch and touch every rubber toy in the bedside drawers. Most of these women’s husbands sleep in the guest room anyway. I clean their drool stains off silk pillows.
I would press their messy lives inside me forever, making order, making love.

Bree Barton has published fiction in [PANK], McSweeney’s, Necessary Fiction, and Mid-American Review. Her debut novel, Black Rose, comes out from KT/HarperCollins in 2017. Bree is also a dance teacher and a ghost (interpret at will). Her Internet footprint begins at and ends with creepy tarantula twitter pictures @BreeBartonYA.