Writing In Public celebrates the art and intelligence of essays, online and in print.

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What are her toxins?

What are her toxins?

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Jason Willis @ F-Stop Magazine

Marcia Aldrich on a stranger in the sauna @ Sweet.
I find her in the shower/spa area of the health club, nowhere else. It's as if she was born here on the blue and white tiles. I've never seen her getting out of her vehicle in the parking lot wearing grey sweat pants and sneakers or walking through the revolving door of the entrance. I've never even seen her move through the locker room or pose before the mirrors and lotions. Needless to say, I've never seen her depart. It's impossible to imagine her meeting a partner at the end of her day and heading home. She must leave eventually. After all, the club closes each night, but I can't picture her walking out into the empty parking lot in the dark. I can't picture a home she would return to. She strikes me as irrevocably unaccompanied. I've never seen her dressed; she is always and only without clothes. Without jewelry. She is beyond the age of children, at that stage in life when time opens out and waves before you. Her hair, worn in a short boyish cut, is a thin shade of blonde, and might be flecked with grey in harsher light. The light in the spa area is soft and forgiving. She isn't young, that I know. If I had to guess I'd say somewhere in her fifties. Whenever I arrive to swim, no matter what time of day, she's here, a fixture. And she's always doing the same thing, cycling through the cold plunge bath to the steam room then back to the plunge and on to the sauna. She doesn't rotate through once and call it quits like all the other women. She moves back and forth between them through the expanse of time. By evening she's amassed a pile of wet towels, enough to fill one of the carts.

Girl Rearing
Marcia Aldrich on Amazon


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