Percolate Installment 5

“You know, the easiest way to detox from caffeine, don’t you?”
My eyes do not see. I am floating in a warm soft haze. A swishing beside my ear tells me Sherrie is un-straightening her legs. Sherrie quietly clears her throat and reaches over me to her bag, for her water bottle. Her firm breast presses into my ear. I smell her spicy hot aroma mixed with the smell of my own hair.
“You are so hot,” she says.
My eyes scan the bed, waiting. I don’t know how to respond.
“Look at you,” she continues, “Your face is flushed.”
Stunned, I feel my fat bottom lip lowering. I am perched, looking up from beneath my brows. The angle makes my eyes blink more. Sherrie’s bedframe digs into my rib cage where it rests.
“Look at you,” Sherrie fumbles out from beneath the bunk bed frame, to her dresser mirror. She looks back to me, perky and inquisitive. I rise like molasses to stand beside her, still lost in a daze, still unsure of Sherrie’s meaning or intent. Sherrie’s head gently nudges mine to face the mirror as she slings her arm around my shoulder and looks back at my reflection.
My cheeks are obviously flushed. A slight prickling of sweat has started at the bridge of my nose and temples.
“C’mon, I have just the thing. “ Sherrie hugs me closer and maneuvers me into her bathroom.
“Sit down,” she demands softly, brushing my back with her hand as she moves me in the direction of her toilet. The shock of the cold porcelain makes me shiver. I consider asking for a sweatshirt, which I am pretty sure she would give me off her back…and I cannot handle that in these close quarters, in my condition. I try to maintain my composure by avoiding looking at her. I hear cabinet doors opening and closing. I feel her eyes on me. I look up.
Sherrie stands like a mother, nurse, s****r and lover all meshed into a fantasy dream image. She is so imbued with power and grace she seems divine, the humid bathroom light making the light of the doorway glow around her. Meeting her eyes they glow like greasy opals in hot sand.
My hand flutters to my neck and chest. I feel my skin is heated. Sherrie grins, knowingly. Her small, tender grin reminds me of my mother’s she reserves for spilled milk and skinned knees. Sherrie holds a blue plastic gel bag. She squeezes it nimbly; her fingers massage and turn it, finger and probe it as though the bag could enjoy these sensations. Sherrie’s breathing makes her collar bone rise and fall. The door closes behind her. Now my own breathing is reverberated. Sherrie moves to me, places the cooling bag on my clavicle. Tapping my shoulder, she adds “30 seconds in front, then in back,” as she balances herself on the shower’s edge, beside me. I sigh and stare ahead at nothing in particular, my fingertips numbing.
“It’s probably muscle strain,” she motions her head to the bedroom, where I had pressed all of myself down upon her. “Your body is fighting to maintain equilibrium. You should take a warm bath, next but first I’m getting you some cold water.” Sherrie rises, produces a glass from beneath her sink, fills it and hands it to me. Crouching at the under-sink cabinet, Sherrie pauses, examining the shadows beneath.
She laughs, “I completely forgot about this!” Now roaring with laughter and falling against the bathroom door.

“What? What is it?” I laugh back.Leaving my care products at the toilet,I kneel beside Sherrie, I peer into the dim light of the cabinet under her sink, “What?” I ask again, “This?” I grab what looks like a deflated red rubber medicine ball.
“Ya, do you know what it is?”
There’s more with it. I can feel more of the same rubbery texture in the cabinet, behind a floral hat box Sherrie keeps her private things in. I carefully reach my arm out of the cabinet as the stiff, snaky rubber flops around. Long, brownish-yellow tubing flares to a rounded point, like a nipple.
“What is this thing?!” I laugh loudly, twisting my wrist to watch the rubber tube flop around. The tube hits me in the arm and almost hits Sherrie’s face.
“Hey, watch it!”
After I giggle, smiling broadly at her, flopping the tube around a little more, I take the thin end and slowly swirl it in the air towards her face :
“Hsssssss”
Sherrie smiles briefly, batting it away softly. Her eyes sparkle, watching me intently. I love performing for her like this, seeing her shy elfishness; a little vain as I play her princess’ court jester. I take the small nozzle and purse my lips to it pretending to suckle like a baby.
“Eww!” Sherrie snatched it away from me, “This is my grandmother’s. It was hers when she was little,or I guess it was her mother’s because she used it for my grandmother when she was sick.”
I consider my mother’s care of me when I was sick in my younger years.
“It’s a straw? Why is it so long?”
“No, it goes with this,” Sherrie produces the orange-red rubber bladder, “See?” She attaches the open end of the hose inside the bladder, twisting a little a she eases it up inside. “Then this,” Sherrie shows me the top of the bladder which is gathered in a fold with a hole punched where the rubber ends all meet. When Sherrie unfolds the rubber, the bladder looks like a deflated balloon with its rounded top cut straight off. “This is where you fill it with water,” she folds the top back together and holds the rubber bladder by hooking her finger through the hole, then raises her arm above her head. “See?” She grabs the nozzle end of the rubber tube, “This,” she wiggles the little nozzle end at my nose, ”Does not go in the mouth.” Sherrie stares intensely, almost angrily at my eyes while she playfully pokes the nozzle against my lip and cheek.
“Oh! Ew!” I finally understand what Sherrie means, remembering my mother explaining my infant thermometer to me, when we’d found it in the attic a few years ago. Now I recall what ‘It doesn't go in your mouth’ means with nozzle or nipple shaped First Aid supplies. Crisp, prim nurses, shiny hospital floors and cozy sick days from school all come flooding into my head. I suddenly recognize the rubbery smell of the enema bag and the hydrogen peroxide, starched sheets and linoleum polish came flooding back with it.
Having grown up in an old, small town, everyone took care of everyone and everything. Traditions, I think, stay longer there. I have volunteered at my town’s out-patient clinic for the past three summers. The old town clinic building is sturdy and well built, started in the 1900’s and finished in the 1930’s, with some updating in the 1950’s…Mostly light fixtures. I volunteer in the library and front desk, and sweep, mop and carry laundry when that’s needed. At the hospital, we re-use a lot of well-made clinical supplies. I remember seeing a bag like Sherries hanging in one of the older rooms, we usually use just for sl**pers. I didn't know then what it might have been for or if it were just there as one a few relics we rarely if ever use.
“It’s an enema bag, Dope,” Sherrie hits me on the head with her thin, firm hose.
“Ow. Okay, I ‘got it’.” I laugh and grab the hose from Sherrie to inspect it. The rubber feels heavy and slightly bouncy, barely pliable. Sherrie rolls the tip thoughtfully between her fingertips.
“My grandmother swore by this, when we’d all get sick,when we were young.I guess she still thinks of me that way. She used to give us olive oil enemas, when we looked like we were on the mend, to re-hydrate us and fortify us *haha*we dreaded it and pretend to be weaker and sicker when she was visiting. I don’t really know why we started avoiding it, maybe pride because when I was little, it was actually comforting. Grandma’s a nurse, y’know. She’d bundle us up in bed, and with Vaseline and her warm, dry hands, her touch was so light, I never felt anything. Then, she’d sit and read to us or sit and read to herself while she’d play one of Mom’s sweet old fairy tale LP story or folk song albums. Once, Grandma and I watched a really cool cartoon short film from Denmark or somewhere.
Then, we had a special wooden potty that sat on the toilet and a footstool to rest our feet on; Grandma would wrap a big soft bath towel around us like a blanket, give us a Popsicle and turn the humidifier on in the bathroom. The whole experience was all about caring for us. It was very loving but also about being taken care of, which really seems to embarrass people as we get older. But, I almost miss it *haha* if that doesn't sound too weird. You should try it !” she laughs more, playing with the bag and flopping the tube.
“Um, no thanks,” I plop the bag into her lap. We face each other, my warming palms pressing into the hard cold bathroom floor.
“For your coffee addiction,” She continues, reaching for a loose strand of hair at the top of my shoulder, rolling it’s tip the way she had the rubber nozzle.
“Hmm,” I growl sarcastically, immersed in her skin and hair.
Both of us sitting cross-legged, facing each other as if poised to play a game, Sherrie’s knee is warming where it touches mine as she continues to absent-mindedly twirl my strand of hair. The thought of her warm hands in my hair, cupping and probing the tender skin of my scalp makes me cry out:
“Braid my hair!”
“Okay,” Sherrie grabs my shoulders and begins to turn me as I grab the combs and hair claws.
“Lean back, more.” She says. Her wide, long fingered palm presses into my upper back then rests on my head as she maneuvers herself around me and out the door. She returns with a throw pillow and her floor chair. Leaning back in the floor chair, Sherrie stretches her long lean legs along either side of me.I want to grasp them by the ankles, wrap those legs around me and stroke their silky smoothness, the firmness of the shin bones and lean muscles. Sherrie’s fingers begin to separate my hair, I hear her breath close to me, our bodies so close begin to warm the little bathroom. An occasional draft shivers my lower back from beneath the bathroom door.
“Hey- I have an idea. Let’s get in the bathtub.”





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lookyloo
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