about the author

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three collections of stories, most recently I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015). He teaches at Missouri State University, where he is the Literary Editor of Moon City Press and Editor of Moon City Review. In 2009, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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shower like you mean it 

Michael Czyzniejewski

close the blinds, shut and lock the door    plug in and turn off your phone    record your shows, the shows you’ll watch later    call your mom, call your dad, call that sibling/friend you’ve been meaning to call    pay a bill, even if one isn’t due    make the morning coffee    check for milk, bread, eggs    sharpen your knives    do the dishes, or at least get them soaking    check the blinds    check the mail    if you’re expecting a package, don’t answer the door, no matter what it is, no matter how long it will sit on the porch, even if the guy takes it back to the truck    have something to eat, something light, a balance of carbs and protein    avoid sugar    avoid alcohol    avoid diuretics take your medications, skipping stimulants and depressants    wash them down with water, but not too much water    go to the bathroom    take off all your clothes    throw the laundry from the washer into the dryer    don’t forget the fabric softener    check the lint trap    throw the dryer clothes in a basket, fold them if you have time    check the blinds    check the sump pump    check the weather    go to the bathroom    stretch    focus on your legs and shoulders, but don’t forget the neck    wash your face    wash your hands    resharpen the knives    brush your teeth    floss    gargle    go to the bathroom    check the blinds    check the locks    check your phone    blow your nose    wipe your face with a fresh towel    put the towel in the laundry check the blinds    go to the bathroom    clean yourself with soap    look in the mirror    take a deep breath    recite an empowering affirmation    check the blinds    return to the mirror    rerecite the affirmation    sing your favorite song    make a happy face    make a determined face    make a face like you’re not making a face at all    squeeze any blemishes    wash the wounds    check the knives    stretch again, seeing if you’re still loose    return to the mirror    make a happy face    check the blinds    one more time with the affirmation, smiling    check the blinds    tell yourself you’re ready for this    repeat it, out loud    yell it so anyone who might be in the house can hear    check the blinds    get upstairs, lifting your heart rate    avoid the creaky stair    turn on the water    perfect the temperature    lay out shampoo, conditioner, body gel, luffa    go to the bathroom    check the mirror    check the water    step in the tub    shower like you mean it, but don’t worry: you’ll do it again, after

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