She came in naked and looming, carrying a
bucket of water, fingers wrapped tightly around a fresh
pumice scrub. Ready.
There was a flat sofa bed in the middle.
A plastic cover on top. People all around. Then, the
She started on the back. Top to bottom.
Pumice crunching like sandpaper scraps. Skin pushed,
rippled, bounced back, and pushed again.
The dirt flowed. Little cylinders of dead
skin beaded in rhythm. Days, weeks, months, years of
unattainable layers finally scraped off with a helping hand.
Back done, rolled to the front. Up, down,
all around. A little ticklish here, meticulous scraping
there, all the dirt had to come off!
Turned to the side. Rolled back and forth
like bread dough. Wubawubawubawubaowwwwwww.
Donít forget the other side!
Then, she lifted her arms high, bucket in
hand, poured the warm water down in waves.
The dirt rolled in ripples off the bed,
revealing fresh, flesh, raw, red. The scrubbing ritual
complete. Steam rising in smoke curls. Mist gathering on
nose tips. Sweat beading like dew. The smell of shampoo,
steam, soap, body.
For five yuan, an unforgettable Chinese