The New You
A Short Story
It had been an ordinary Tuesday morning until Timothy found a tiny ear nestled behind his... well, behind his 'normal' ear.
He'd been standing in front of the bathroom sink, staring into the circular mirror, debating whether he could bypass a shower. He was, as usual, running late for work, and - by not showering - he could save himself five minutes. Time that might get him into work on time for once.
He'd run his fingers through his hair, trying to deduce whether he could get away with another day not washing his lank locks when the tip of his right index finger discovered the additional lobe.
Initially, he thought it a boil, or pimple. However, through a series of complicated physical maneuvers, he was eventually able to position his body so he could study the protrusion in the mirror.
And he clearly saw that it was an ear.
It was the size of a bottle-cap, and - although not a physician, and therefore lacking any expertise in the field - to Timothy's untrained eyes it appeared to be identical to the normal size orifice in front of it.
Unsurprisingly, Timothy was now consumed with more pressing matters, and thoughts of showering no longer registered highly on his to-do list. He had the arrival of an extra sensory organ to process - that was quite enough to deal with, thank you very much.
Going into work was also not on the agenda anymore. He did briefly debate informing his superior at the factory of the truth. However, believing that, "I can't come into work today because I have discovered a third ear" was unlikely to endear him to a man who already detested him, Timothy had instead mumbled something about the 'flu before hanging up.
He then spent a very agitated morning deciding what needed to be done next. He, naturally, turned to the Internet first of all. However, when that offered little in the way of advice as what to do upon the discovery of an additional ear, he took to pacing the carpet of the living room of his small, cramped flat.
Perhaps he could telephone Monica? She was sensible - she'd have some prudent advice. However, after the fiasco at her cousin's wedding, she'd also told Timothy - in no uncertain terms - to never contact her again. He could recall her face the morning she departed the flat for the final time: He doubted that she was likely to care even with his sudden sprouting of extra body-parts. If anything, that was only likely to complicate matters.
His mother - he could call his mother. However, like his ex-girlfriend, Timothy's sole remaining parent detested him. They hadn't spoke for a year now. Like Monica, the chances of her being compelled towards kindness, even under these circumstances, was a long-shot. Not quite as long as waking one morning to discover an extra ear, but the odds were in the same ball-park.
It was whilst Timothy was mentally debating just who he could contact, that the tiny ear fell off. With a small, fleshy thud, it landed on the threadbare carpet by his feet. Except, it wasn't tiny any more.
Although thoughts regarding the organ had occupied him incessantly, he hadn't actually looked at it since first discovering earlier. In the interim, the ear appeared to have grown. The body part below him was no longer the size of a child's: It was now, distinctly, an adult-sized ear.
Truth be told, Timothy was not particularly assiduous when it came to house-keeping. The floor was already festooned with a devastating array of fast-food detritus; he could have left the ear there, and a causal observer would not have noticed.
However, on this occasion, Timothy's natural laxity was bypassed. He was still unsure what to do about the ear, but he knew that whatever he decided wouldn't be aided by leaving it on the floor. Bending over, he picked up the ear, delicately holding it with the tips of his forefinger and thumb.
Ice. He needed to encase it in ice. He could remember seeing this in one of those dull hospital dramas Monica used to devour; organs were always kept on ice.
He walked to the bathroom, and, gently, deposited the ear in the bath. He then marched to the kitchen, and pulled open the door of the freezer. Reaching in he removed the bag of ice Monica had purchased several months back.
Timothy couldn't recall why his former partner had bought it; it might have coincided with that brief phase she went through of making cocktails. She had been like that. One month cocktails, the next crochet... an endless roundabout of various hobbies. Why she had never been content to spend every evening watching TV like everyone else had been beyond Timothy.
He lugged the large plastic bag to the bathroom, and emptied it into the tub, smothering the pink ear. That would suffice whilst he considered what to...
A toe. Timothy had grown another toe.
Due to some impulse he was unaware of, his eyes - whilst gazing downwards - had roamed from the bathtub to his feet. Looking at his right foot, Timothy could clearly see he now had six toes.
He had an extra big toe.
He stood, unmoving, staring at the digit.
Eventually, not knowing what else to do, he wriggled his toes. They all jiggled up and down, except the new arrival. Which simply fell off.
Timothy bent down, and - using the same care he employed when holding the extra ear - picked the toe up, and laid it in the ice, a few inches below where the ear sat.
What was wrong with him?
It was at that moment that all the electronic devices in his flat stopped humming and buzzing. Timothy - unsurprisingly - was slovenly when it came to the paying of bills on time. However, he was fairly certain that the payments regarding his utilities were up to date. If his home had lost power, it wasn't due to him not...
Or had he paid that bill? Now he thought about it, he wasn't sure. Monica used to handle all of those things. "The Man-Child can't manage money," she used to say...
Although it was only late-morning, it was also Winter. Accordingly, the London skies were quite dark. Timothy could probably navigate his way around the flat without needing to turn on the lights, but some illumination would be required within a few hours.
He turned to his right, and opened the small cupboard that sat beneath the sink. Reaching in, he pulled out a small wicker basket. It was an aromatherapy set he'd purchased for Monica as a way to apologize for his forgetting of her birthday. However, as the assorted candles, and bath-salts were all lavender-scented, the gift had remained unused. His girlfriend hated lavender, a fact he only remembered seconds after giving her the gift.
Timothy removed two of the candles, and placed them on the edge of the sink. Moving gingerly (the thought of the extra toe made him weary of moving normally), he walked to the kitchen, pulled open a drawer, and removed a box of matches.
Returning to the bathroom, he sat down on the toilet. He took out a match, struck it, and lit the two candles. Immediately the small room was filled with the cloying smell of lavender. And Timothy understood why Monica had such a distaste for it. It was vile.
He lifted the candles, and placed them on the window sill. The dancing flames reflected off the frosted glass.
He leant back, his back resting the cistern, watching the strange, indistinct shadows the candle flames projected onto the bobbled, misted glass of the window. He would have been more comfortable in the living room, on the sofa. However, something told him that it was probably best to remain in the bathroom, close to the tub.
He was proven to be correct.
As the Winter sky slowly darkened, Timothy - not as slowly - grow more body parts.
A finger emerged from his belly-button; a nose from his elbow; a foot from his right thigh... most disturbingly, an eye emerged from the saggy skin by his arm-pit. At one stage, his body was growing new parts almost as quickly as he could deposit them in the tub.
By the time late afternoon had arrived, Timothy was approaching exhaustion. A state of affairs not helped by the overpowering scent of lavender being given off by the two candles.
Sleep. He wanted to sleep. In fact, he should sleep. He was drained, weak; the surreal midwifery had left him feeling limp. Powerless.
The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was a hand emerging from the bath. He saw it's fingers curl around the edge of the tub, and a head slowly lift itself up.
The face was instantly recognizable.
Timothy shut his eyes.
The man in the bath stood up. He stared at the limb body sitting on the toilet. And felt pity.
He sniffed the air. He didn't know what the smell was, but it was soothing. Pleasant.
He lifted one foot out of the bath, and stepped onto the cold floor. Whether it was due the sensation of the cool tiles underfoot, his brain snapped and popped - Timothy. That was his name. Not the doll-like creature sitting on the toilet; he no longer had the need for a name.
Timothy was his name.
He lifted the other foot out of the bath, and slowly moved over to the 'thing' on the toilet. It appeared to be slowly deflating.
He picked up the fleshy-rag doll, and - gently - carried it over to the bath. Timothy laid the carcass on what remained of the ice. Instantly, there was a quiet hissing noise. The skin, having come in contact with the ice, had started to decompose. A pale, pink effluence joined with the melting ice-cubes, and began trickling down the plug-hole.
Timothy span, and - purposefully - marched to the kitchen, and - opening the cupboard under the sink - pulled out a black, plastic bag. He walked to the living room, and - in near darkness - began filling the bag with the take-away cartons that had been sitting on the floor for the last few weeks. As he worked, he could still hear that faint hissing coming from the bathroom.
Once it stopped, then he would return...
His mother. Later he would telephone his mother, and offer a sincere apology for having been so selfish and thoughtless. After, he would take a taxi to Monica's office, making sure he had stopped by a florists beforehand. Just his mother would do, his girlfriend would receive a heartfelt apology...
Timothy paused. The hissing had stopped.
Timothy tied a knot in the big, black bag, and dropped it by the front-door. He would take it down the communal bins in a little while.
He walked to the bathroom, and peered into the bath. The bottom of the tub was coated in a thin, pink, soupy liquid. Timothy reached over, and spun the big, circular silver knob, and the shower coughed into life, hastening the departure of what remained of the... 'thing.'
Cold. The water would be cold. Due to the power cut, the boiler would not be working.
Oh well, a cold shower it was. He looked down, and - at the very instant the last remnants of the 'thing' vanished down the plug-hole - there was a sudden hum, as the electricity to the flat was restored. Timothy lay his palm under the running water, savoring the gradual increase in its warmth.
Hair. He had to wash his hair.
Before he stepped into the bath, he leant over, blowing out the two candles.
He remembered lighting them, a few hours ago.
But he was an entirely different person back then.
An entirely different person.