I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
- The Noose
"You know, Wilson's is thicker."
I pull my head from under the shower spray with a splutter and find myself staring at Amber. I dash my hands to my groin, the soap dropping to the floor with a dull thud. "How'd you get in here?"
The moment the words are out of my mouth, I realise how ridiculous that sounds. "I'm in your head, remember?" Amber ever so not helpfully replies. "I'm everywhere. I see..." She lowers her eyes with a taunting lift of her brow. "Everything that you don't want me to see."
I clutch my balls and penis a little more protectively. Stupid that a hallucination can make me feel naked about being naked. "You mean you see everything I already know. You're not Amber; you're me. You're just a manifestation of my mind."
"If that's true, then you're obviously well acquainted with Wilson's package."
Her lips curve into an aggravatingly smug smile. Not for the first time since she 'reappeared' in my life, I find myself wondering how the hell my mind is able to conjure such a vivid, accurate detail of Amber's face, of her body, her voice, her mannerisms, even her scent. "No." I turn away from Amber to finish up washing. "My mind only came up with that because of association. Wilson, Amber, sex, I'm washing my balls. Hence, completely inappropriate remark because that's the kind of thing I do."
"What if I am real? What if I'm a ghost? What if I never died?"
I shut the taps off hard; the pipes creak and jostle, and I wipe my hands over my face. Hallucination or not, I'm not going to let Amber goad me into anything I don't want to talk about. "I may be hallucinating but I'm not a gullible idiot."
"You have a nice ass."
I quickly look over my shoulder at Amber. She smirks, I frown. "Why would you say something like that?"
"Seeing you're convinced I'm not real, why would you think something like that?"
"I don't think things like that."
"When has that ever stopped you from wishing someone found you attractive?"
For only a moment, I'm caught off guard. Just a hallucination, I remind myself. I turn around and reach for the towel, replying dryly, "Compliments from a dead person. You know, the real Amber would be turning in her grave right about now."
"I never said I wasn't."
I rub my chest dry, then wrap the towel around my waist. "If you were really Amber, you'd know that the only compliments that you give are the ones that get you something. Or somewhere."
Halfway out of the shower, I stop to stare at her again. "Someone like who? What do you want?"
She crosses her arms over her chest, looking pleased with herself. "Definitely not you."
"Then why would you tell me--"
"Screwing with you, on the other hand, just like all the times you screwed with me..."
Well, that sort of makes sense, I think to myself. I stand on the rumpled towel I'd tossed down on the floor earlier as a makeshift bathmat. "Conversations about screwing with dead people will only go in highly questionable places. You done screwing with me yet?"
Amber tosses her head with a chortle. She takes a step closer and I remind myself that if I take a step back, I'm going to land flat on my ass. "Oh, I'm never done screwing with you. In fact, I'd say this is only the beginning, wouldn't you?"
"It's not my head I'm screwing with."
"Of course it is. You're always screwing with your own head - trying to understand things, trying to puzzle things out, trying to solve the unsolvable." She moves in a bit closer and a cold chill runs through me as she lifts a hand and touches my chest. Light strokes of her fingertips down my sternum. If it wasn't Amber I was hallucinating, I'd think this was the most incredibly fascinating hallucination I'd ever had. The fact that I can smell her perfume and even sense her body warmth takes this right out of the fascinating zone and right into something that's really starting to make me feel afraid. "It must get so dark up in that head of yours. All those thoughts, all that guilt, all those things in your life you've refused to take responsibility for."
"What things?" I ask and I'm horrified to hear the nervousness in my own voice.
"Oh, come on," Amber purrs, and I really wish she'd stop that. She presses her palm flat to my chest and trails it down my wet stomach. "Don't tell me you've forgotten our little drink at the bar, the night of the bus crash. Or all those little clues you should've noticed about Kutner."
I swallow. "Neither of those things were my fault."
"What makes you so sure?" Amber runs her finger back up my chest and I feel her breath on my chin as she starts to lean in closer. Her mouth is so close to mine, I can almost taste it. Despite everything, my eyes start fluttering closed. "I mean, none of those things would've happened had you been able to save us in time."
"It wasn't my fault. Neither of those things were my fault," I tell her weakly. Her lips brush mine and I draw in a sharp gasp. She's so real, she's so close. I open my mouth to let her kiss me, eyes closed. Her face is burned into the backs of my tired eyelids.
"Then why can't you get me out of your head?" she whispers.
Everything crashes back to reality. What is she doing to me? What am I doing? She's not real. I don't believe a word she's saying. Except... except it's not her that's saying anything, it's me. Me. This is all in my head. All in my screwed up head. I snap my eyes open and go to shove her away from me as fast as possible.
Nothing. No Amber. Just an empty bathroom.