Alex did not consider himself a particularly panicky person.
Honestly, he was the kind of person who drove his gas tank down to fumes, and ate pork after the sell-by date on a regular basis. He took police sirens behind him in stride because, yeah, he had been speeding. He woke up late and still ate a full breakfast. He heard strange noises outside his window at night and assumed it was a stray cat before burglars or ghosts even crossed his mind. He understood that when his mother called him three times in the space of an hour, she probably was not calling to tell him about a funeral. He was, he thought, very close to unflappable.
But he still froze when the bathroom door squeaked open while he was in the middle of his shower. The water continued streaming down from the showerhead, noisy, and almost instantly unwelcome as he heard one sharp footstep on the tile, and a few muffled ones on the bathroom rug.
“Jen?” he said, hoping that the shadow on the other side of the curtain was his roommate, and not someone looking to reenact scenes from Psycho.
There was no response.
Alex reached to turn off the water, just as a manicured hand – a flash of purple nails, which was Jen’s color – appeared over the curtain. Something gritty and shiny flurried down over his head, shoulders, and back. He jerked away from it and flattened against the wall. He swore. Whatever it was caught in his lashes, in the corners of his eyes, on his tongue. He tried to spit it out. Harder footsteps ran away from the shower, to the sink a moment, and then there was a hasty, slammed door.
Alex spat again. He rubbed at his face. His hands came away covered in glitter and he stared as he caught a breath. Then he cursed at the silver glitter caked on his arms and shoulders.
Turning the shower back on, he tried to rinse it away. But it stuck, and it spread. Silver glitter from his head to his thighs. Soap didn’t help, just made it more glossy. He scrubbed hard with a washcloth, and nothing happened at all. Another minute’s frantic scrub, and he gave up, hopped out of the shower, and spun toward the mirror to check the damage.
Jen had left him a message, in what he hoped was red lipstick:
I told you not to eat my last taco. My wroth is terrible.
His bedazzled self stared back at him between the over-large letters. When he started laughing, he couldn’t stop.