The voice on the end of the phone tells me to run a bath. His words dissolving in the stagnant air I inhaled. exhaled. inhaled. Fed up of that tiny process. Exhausting. Exhausted. I should just tell him I don’t have a bath. Maybe that’s the secret code. The five words which let him know he can give me the real good advice they hide from everyone else. The secret cure no one knows because we all get so baffled by taking a damn bath. Maybe I should tell him I’m already in the bath. Some sort of anonymous flirty conversation might ensue. He’ll ask where I am so he can come over and watch me soak my raw flesh in the suds. I’ll do a shampoo model hair flick and seduce him. We’ll live happily ever after, all loved up and I won’t need to make these kind of phone calls anymore. Maybe I should tell him I’ve tried taking a bath and it didn’t wash away the discomfort in my skin. Give me something new. Now what? Act like I’m trying so he’ll give me what I really need. Or at least a way to find it within me. Maybe I should tell him that telling a body dysmorphic to take a bath is absurd advice. That sitting in a tub full of lukewarm water picking at every inch of skin on my body isn’t really going to make those thoughts go away.

I hear myself saying it.

“Thanks. I’ll give that a try. I’m feeling okay now. Safe.”

I catch myself lying again. Maybe there is no secret cure. Maybe this time I’ll actually take a bath. I doubt it. I know I’ll leave my body sprawled across the itchy carpet.

inhale. exhale. inhale.

Iona Murphy is an Mst(res) student at The University of St Andrews, navigating her way through her early twenties in her own messy way. Currently, she is working on her first collection of poems Numbers, throwing down messy ideas for a novel, and of course trying to finish her degree! All whilst stumbling through anorexia recovery and other mental illnesses. Follow her on Twitter: @write_with_Iona

Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

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