Water the EnemyA Chapter by Wendy Seames Garner
Ablutophobia, the fear of bathing, washing, and/or cleaning.
Lifting her long blond hair up off her neck, Lisa shifted in the lounge chair, her blue eyes searching the water. She had fallen asleep reading, her husband, Brandon, and their ten year old daughter, Kaylie, were out there somewhere. Lisa didn't feel comfortable in the water and had never learned to swim.
Brandon loved the water, he had been raised in a house on the shores of Lake Huron. His love for the lake was transferred to his daughter. Lisa insisted that she take swim lessons, which she had done since the age of three. She was surprised Kaylie didn't have fins, she spent so much time in the water.
She couldn't see them at first and felt a moment of apprehension. Then she heard a shout and her head turned to the sound. Kaylie was yelling and waving her arms. Brandon was a short distance away and making his way to her.
Griped in fear, she jumped to her feet and shaded her eyes with her hand. She could do nothing, but watch. This was a private beach, there were no lifeguards. She watched frantically as Brandon neared Kaylie.
At last, he made it to her and Lisa started to relax. Suddenly, both of them went under. She had never been so terrified in her life. She waited for them to resurface, but the seconds just ticked by turning into minutes. Sobbing, as she rushed to call 911, Lisa knew it was too late. Her beloved family was gone!
She put the lake house up for sale, the day after the funeral. She moved in with her friend, Isabelle, who lived miles from the water. She couldn't live in such close proximity to the lake that had taken her loved ones.
After the house sold, she moved into an apartment, then moved again two months later. The apartment building had a pool. She couldn't stand the sound of the children's laughter as they frolicked in the pool.
She found herself driving miles out of her way as she drove to and from work everyday. She subconsciously avoided crossing a bridge over a river.
She stopped taking baths. Soaking in a scented tub after a long day at work, surrounded by candles, use to feel so luxurious to her. Now it made her feel anxious, so she opted for a quick shower.
When even quick showers started to terrify her, Lisa started bathing with a washcloth from the sink. Soon, just turning on the faucet frightened her, so she started bathing with wet wipes. Even the thought of brushing her teeth was more than she could take. Instead, she opted to chew gum.
As the second year anniversary of her loved ones death approached, friends hardly recognized her if they happened to meet. Her once beautiful hair, now dirty, hung limply around her emaciated face and an odor emanated from her. Her friends had urged her to get counseling, but she refused.
She could no longer drink water, or anything made from water. Milkshakes, nice thick ones, were the most she could handle.
She lost her job, no one could stand to work next to her. With no income, it wasn't long before she found herself among the homeless. That summer she slept in the park on a picnic table under a pavilion. Now, former friends pretended they didn't see her, turning away quickly when she approached.
One morning upon waking, Lisa noticed the dew covering the picnic tables and grass. She started screaming, frantic because the dew - the water - was coming to get her! A man, eating his breakfast from his car in the parking lot, rushed to help and dialed 911. Lisa had to be sedated before transporting her the hospital.
Lisa woke in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. Wearing restraints, she was receiving fluids intravenously. She did well for a time, receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy. Her therapy involved taking baby steps - first sitting in a bathroom with the water running. After several months, she was able to take quick showers. Lisa was released to a halfway house. After about a month, she left and never came back.
She was back to wandering the streets, one of the homeless again. Eventually she just stopped drinking, even her thick shakes. Lisa died one night, alone, heart broken and afraid - a victim of Ablutophobia, the fear of bathing, washing, and/or cleaning.
© 2012 Wendy Seames Garner
Wendy Seames Garner
AboutI believe that every person we meet, every thing we touch has a story. more..
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