Perry turned the shower on while Delilah stared into the mirror looking at herself, amazed. It was the first time she had seen her reflection since she left her mountain. Even then, it was only in the calm waters of the pool next to her mossy rock. The mirror was amazing to her. She kept moving her hands around and turning side to side, watching the mirror, following every move she made. She giggled, everything was so sterile and clean, compared to where she came from. Delilah moved closer to the mirror, climbing on the counter and sitting with her back against the light switch. She pawed at her reflection with one hand and rubbed the skin on her face with the other. Then she started to make faces in the mirror, making herself giggle. She sat with her feet in the sink.
“Delilah,” Perry turned from the shower and watched her for a second then said, “Hey, come on, get in.” Perry couldn’t help but sneer when he saw her feet in the sink
“Whatcha want me do, Perry?” She looked at his reflection in the mirror.
“I want you to get in the shower. And please, for the love of god, get your feet out of the sink.” Perry pointed at the shower with his hand, in an ushering motion.
“It’s like a raining inside,” Delilah slid off the counter and walked closer to the shower, examining it from the open stall door. She put her hand in, feeling the water, then laughed, jerking her hand back. “It’s a hot!”
“Yeah, come on. Get in, Delilah.” Perry said putting his hand on her lower back.
“What I do in dere?” She asked pushing back against his hand, her smile leaving, replaced with a look of curiosity.
“Delilah, we talked about this. You need to get cleaned up.” Perry started to get annoyed at how much more work this was going to be. His patience was waning, he was exhausted. Delilah could sense his irritation. She pushed back harder, stepping passed Perry, “Jesus Christ! Delilah!” Delilah paused, looking at the shower then at Perry again.
“I gots ta go in dere make ya happy? Stop ya bein’ all mad and such?” Delilah asked stepping closer to the shower, inspecting the inner stall.
“Delilah, I’m really tired, I just want to go to sleep. Let’s get this over with, please?” Perry slumped, exhausted with the tediousness that was Delilah. She stuck her hand in the shower again, holding it under the water longer. Perry could see leaves and sticks in her hair. He reached and grabbed a twig out of her hair. Delilah, startled by his touch, jumped away from him, right into the shower stall. She screamed and hissed, then started flailing about as the water hit her in the face. She stuck her head back, so the water hit her chest instead of her face. She gasped for air like she was in a pool on the verge of drowning. She rushed to get back out of the shower but slipped, falling on her butt in the shower. Delilah started screaming. She sounded like a cat. It made Perry remember the cougar she turned into in the maginins she showed him. He shook his head. She will always be that cougar.
“Delilah, calm down, it’s just water!” Perry crouched down to Delilah in the corner of the shower gasping for air, “It’s ok, just breathe.” Delilah shook her head to move her hair out of her face and spit water as she gasped for air. Perry offered his hand to her then helped Delilah back up. Delilah stood, blocking the water from hitting her face with her hands. Perry reached up and repositioned the shower head, so it didn’t hit her in the face. The shower stall floor was quickly thick and dirty, like a river bottom, from the filth that coated Delilah. She calmed down, after about a minute in the shower. Water was all over the floor. Perry put a towel down so he wouldn’t slip and bust his ass too.
“Ok, I’m done.” Delilah said. Perry shook his head no, “I did it, ain’tcha happy wit it?”
“Not yet,” Perry walked to the counter where a shopping bag with cleaning supplies sat on the floor next to the door. He pulled out soap, shampoo and conditioner, and every toiletry Perry thought a young woman might need. He lined them up starting with the soap. “When we get here, you’ll be done.” Perry pointed to the end of the line, where a hair dryer sat on top of a pile of folded clothes. Delilah hissed and threw water at him. Perry chuckled, “Lose the skirt.” He said pointing at her dirty skirt. Delilah looked down at the skirt for a long time, wondering what Perry intended to do with her momma’s skirt.
“I don’t want lose it, Perry.” Delilah told him sternly.
“I’m not gonna steal it from you.” He said, still smiling, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll clean that too.” Delilah slipped off the skirt to a pile at her ankles. Perry walked over with a bar of soap and a washcloth. He handed them both to Delilah. She took them and looked confused, not knowing what to do with them. Perry knelt and grabbed the skirt, glancing up at Delilah. She stepped out from the middle of the pile that was her long dirty skirt. He was not entirely surprised she wasn’t wearing underwear. Perry gathered up the skirt and tossed it in the sink. “Use it.” Perry said, looking back at Delilah, brooding with her head down. The water pushed her hair over her face. She smelled the soap then crinkled her nose.
“It’s ugly!” She shied away from the soap almost throwing back out of the shower. Perry sighed then walked back to the shower. The drain started to clog. He knelt again to clear it. Delilah saw an opportunity to play with Perry and let the water flow down her arm in a stream that she aimed at the back of Perry’s head, while he cleared the drain. Perry ignored her childish antics, she was tedious, but in a better mood at least. Water and filth streamed off her in chunks at first. Perry took the unused washcloth from Delilah then soaked it in the water, soaping it up.
“Turn around.” Perry ordered. Delilah complied, slowly turning in the warm shower. She was starting to enjoy the warm water all over her body. Perry touched Delilah’s back with the washcloth, to which she immediately spun on him and hissed, slapping his hand away. “I’m just going to help you clean your back.” Delilah was crouched, ready to attack, a snarl painted across her face. She cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. She straightened up, covered herself with her hands, suddenly embarrassed.
“I’ll take it from here, sir. Thank you very much!” She said, glaring at Perry.
“Ok,” Perry put his hands up then backed away from her. She looked at the shower door, then glared at Perry to shut it. Perry shut the door for her, so she could keep herself covered.
“Give me the shampoo and conditioner please?” She asked, “Did you get us any razors?”
“Everything is here on the counter. I’ll, uh, just leave you to it…uh, whoever you are.” Perry said on his way out the bathroom door.
“I’m Melissa, and by the by, Delilah doesn’t like to be touched, so… watch it, you might get cut.” She yelled to him over the shower door.
“Got it, thanks for that… uh, Melissa.” He said shutting the door behind him, he cracked the door back open just a hair and said, “Hey, Melissa? Please do a good job. I don’t want to have to come back in here.”
“I don’t wanna have to comeback in here again,” She said mimicking him immediately, “I’ll be fine, ya perv, I know what I’m doing.”
The hot shower was so luxurious compared to bathing in a freezing river pool at the bottom of a mountain waterfall. It was pleasurable and fun. Soap and water, shampoo, and conditioner. She and Melissa had fun in the shower like two schoolgirls sharing the same body. Melissa taught her all about what she needed to do and explained why. They laughed and giggled while they showered. Perry could hear her talking and giggling. He knew she was alone, but it was eerie how she sounded like two distinct people talking. She was two girls giggling and talking in the shower. The woman of the woods was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t needed. She washed herself repeatedly, watching all the dirt, blood, leaves, and filth, drain away. Twice, Melissa had to stoop and clear the drain of the debris that fell from their body. By the time Delilah stepped out from the shower her fingers were shriveled prunes. It made her laugh. She could not stop smiling. All the wonders she was experiencing for herself, made her so happy, everywhere might as well have been Disneyland to her. It was far better than just memories from other minds. She dried herself and combed her hair. She took the hair dryer at the end of the line, Perry made on the counter and snatched it up quickly, excited to use it. As soon as she turned it on it blew in her face making her burst out a scream that turned to laughter. She aimed the warm air all over her body, even though she knew it was meant for her hair. She played with it for an hour before it overheated and shut down. Delilah shook it a couple of times then let it drop to the floor still plugged in. Perry had bought her clothes that Melissa helped her put on. Delilah was thankful for Melissa; she would have never figured out the bra. When she finally got dressed, she looked herself over in the mirror and smiled. Delilah let Hummingbird come see and Hummingbird took over then started dancing in front of the mirror, pleased with how she looked. Her hair looked a completely different color now, it was blonde, not brown at all, like she thought it was. It reminded Hummingbird of soft mountain lion fur, she burst out a hissing growl at her reflection with a snarling smile on her face, her eyes lit up. There were three loud bangs on the bathroom door, it was Perry. She could sense he was anxious to use the toilet. Hummingbird snickered and then Delilah shushed her giggling. Hummingbird had a good long look at herself, then Delilah took control again.
“Is everything ok in there?” Perry asked through the door.
“Peachy, Perry,” She said straightening her new skirt, “Not bad ladies, not bad at all.” Melissa said looking herself over in the mirror and making final touches to her hair.
“Well, can you hurry it up a bit? Please?” Perry asked.
“Ok.” She answered. Perry paced back and forth between the bed and the television. He really needed to use the bathroom. She was in there the better part of two hours. Perry hoped when she came out of the bathroom she would look like a real girl. He didn’t have to wait long after he knocked. “It’s a new me!” Delilah opened the door and twirled out for Perry to see. Suddenly, she felt her big toe with the missing nail that she had all but forgotten about, until it twisted in the carpet. “Ow, Perry, it hurts!” Perry ignored her and rushed into the bathroom slamming the door behind him in his rush. Delilah laughed. She could almost feel his bladder getting ready to blow. She pouted for a second when she looked down at her toe, thinking how he just ignored her pain. Delilah shared the pain of her big toe with Perry.
“Goddam it! What the fuck?” He yelled from inside the bathroom at the sudden pain in his own toe. He pissed all over his leg from the shock of it. It took Perry a while to come back out. When he did, he had different pants on, and limped. Perry looked at Delilah and smiled a, fuck you, smile. “That was not right.” Delilah took his pain away, chuckling.
“Don’t cha ignore me den,” She said. Perry ignored her comment.
“Looks like a murder happened in there, I’m going to have to clean that fucking bathroom. We can’t let the maid see that shit.” Perry came over to Delilah and nodded for her to sit on the bed. “Let me look at it, don’t be scared.”
“I ain’t a scaredy a nuttin!” She growled, then stepped up to him, her chest to his abdomen, looking up at his face, “Least all, you!” she pushed against him challenging him to do something. Perry grit his teeth looking down at her. It was comical the way her tiny frame shoved him, but she was the one who bounced back. Perry knew better than to laugh in her face. She was a bully, daring him to fight her, “Ya want do somethin’?” Delilah stepped back from him and sat down on the bed. She held her foot up and wiggled her big toe that was missing a nail. “Fix it.” She commanded.
“What happened to this thing?” He knelt in front of her and put her foot on his thigh. He looked her toe over, “This is nasty.”
“Fix it fo me.” Delilah didn’t like that he said anything about her was nasty. It took her feeling pretty, down a notch. Even Melissa felt the sting of his comment.
“I will,” Perry grabbed her ankle and gently set her foot down. “But,” He stood up and walked over to the kitchenette, “You keep saying you’re hungry and thirsty, right?” He gathered items from different parts of the kitchenette counter while he spoke, then started making a sandwich.
“Yes!” Delilah sat up excited, forgetting instantly about her toe. She ran to the kitchenette counter across from Perry and watched him making the sandwich with a smile of anxious anticipation on her face. Perry smirked at how quickly her mood swung. Women. “What is it?” Delilah asked, “It’s a sandwich!” Melissa answered, her eyes flashed wide, “Oh? I can’t wait!” Delilah said with both hands intertwined together under her chin. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until the food was in view.
“Ok, ladies, just a sec,” Perry said realizing he was dealing with Delilah plus one, probably still Melissa, he cut the sandwich in half and slid it to Delilah. “A half for each of you.” She was so excited, she looked at him and then back to the sandwich several times, biting her lower lip, before she finally, tentatively, grabbed a half then took a bite. She held the first bite in her mouth for a long minute, rolling it around before she started chewing it up then finally swallowed it. Her eyes were closed the whole time, enjoying that first bite. Perry could hear her making a noise that sounded like purring. She looked at Perry smiling with the sandwich in her hands in front of her face. She started giggling uncontrollably. The new flavors gave her an extreme amount of joy. It was so different than what she ate on the mountain, what Hummingbird ate on the mountain. She paused for a moment contemplating herself. She was Hummingbird underneath it all… and Delilah? Delilah pushed that nonsense out of her mind for the time being and returned to enjoying the sandwich.
“I want to ask you something, and I want you to… not flip out, ok?” He asked, Delilah nodded skeptically as she chewed her sandwich. “That was Melissa in the shower, right?” Delilah turned her head slightly and narrowed her eyes, then nodded again, her purring noise stopped. “Who are the other ones? And, how many are in there?” He asked pointing at her head.
“Dey’s just me, and momma, and Melissa, and…and Humminbird.” She said.
“Ok, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Perry smiled, “It’s nice to officially meet you all.”
“Ya playin’ da game wit me, Perry?” Delilah lowered her sandwich.
“Absolutely not.” Perry pushed off the counter, “I can’t read minds, Delilah. I have to ask you questions to learn anything about you, ok? You have to stop reading my mind and learn to have a conversation like normal people.”
“I’m a tryna be better, Perry, but I don’t know no udda way.” Delilah said then took another bite, “I hears ya like ya talkin’ wit ya mouth, same same. I can’t close ma ears ta it. And, when ya feels a ting, I feels it too. Ain’t e’er able ta stop dat one. When I’s lil girl, on da mountain, momma say, Humminbird why ya crying fo all dems ya kill, dems just food fo us?” Delilah looked down at the counter lost in thought, momentarily realizing she was Hummingbird, but… what about Delilah? It confused her. She knew Melissa was a stolen piece, and so was her momma, and her cougar, just tagging along. Delilah’s emergence she couldn’t quite place, couldn’t understand. Was she, as Delilah said? The evolution of Hummingbird after the knowledge gained by all those she killed? Delilah snapped out if it when Perry spoke, bringing her back to the sandwich in her hands, which again made her smile.
“It can’t be easy knowing other people’s thought’s, Delilah. I, I can appreciate that.” Perry empathized with how hard it must be to trust someone knowing what they were thinking. He started to make another sandwich.
“Oh, but Perry, it’s easy! I’s can hear ’em from far away, and, and…” Delilah stopped talking and looked down when she realized what Perry meant. He smiled, knowing she was a little behind in the conversation.
“But,” He said in her pause, “What you don’t know, and what you can’t read, is that people think a lot of stuff they have no intention of doing. I’m sure not understanding that, has made you extremely paranoid, and untrusting.” He finished making his sandwich and went to the refrigerator then took out a liter of Pepsi and an ice tray from the freezer of the lime green refrigerator. When he turned back around Delilah was eating the sandwich he just made. Perry shook his head still smiling at her, “You thirsty?” Delilah shook her head yes while she chewed. Perry took a couple of glasses and filled them with ice and Pepsi. He slid one to Delilah and put his on the other side of the counter, well away from her. Perry took two more pieces of bread out and started making himself another sandwich, “Can I eat this one?”
“Ok,” Delilah giggled, “Perry?”
“Yeah?” He asked pausing what he was doing.
“Iffin ya eva see Humminbird, ya just let her be, ya heya? Else I kills ya dead as old wood. Ya get ma understandins?” Her eyes narrowed as she spoke, conveying the seriousness of her threat.
“Yes, I get you.” He paused, thinking a moment, then went back the sandwich he was making, “So, like I was saying. Not everything people think, they’re going to do. People get mad and think about killing each other all the time, but they never do it.” Perry set his sandwich down and turned to grab his Pepsi. Delilah grabbed his sandwich and hid it behind her back. “Come on, really?” Perry asked when he turned around and saw his sandwich was missing.
“I just playin’ a bit witcha, Perry.” Delilah produced the sandwich and handed it to Perry, “People tink it, but don’t e’er do it?” She wiped her mouth, “On the mountain, my lion, she say, she hungry, den she mean she hungry, she say, she mad, den she really mean, she mad, how come y’all down here say and tink different? Y’all tink but don’t mean it?”
“Sure, all the time. Just like, I’m sure you have thoughts you never actually do.” Delilah thought about what he said. She grabbed her glass of Pepsi and took a tentative drink, letting it hit her lips so she could taste it first, before committing to a full-on gulp, then, she smiled and finished the glass at once.
“Gimme some more!” She put the glass back down hard enough on the counter the ice almost popped out, “Y’all people downs here head screwy, but ya make good stuff for da eatins.” She giggled.
“Ya like that, do ya?” Perry asked smiling at her, “So Delilah, tell me, where do you come from? How have you not killed everyone you’ve ever met?” Perry got the Pepsi out of the refrigerator and poured Delilah another glass. Delilah walked away from the kitchenette to the front door and leaned back against it looking at Perry with a look of disgust, like he just farted.
“Perry,” Her eyes narrowed, staring at him with a cold, killer’s eyes, “I kill e’ery one I e’er known in ma life, from da mountain ta da city. Ya da only one still a livin’.” She walked back to the kitchenette, and rounded the counter, staring at him the whole way. Perry was trapped in the kitchenette. His heart raced, one second, they were almost friends, and now, he feared for his life. They looked at each other for a very long time in silence. Perry finally looked down at his feet, like a dog being submissive to its master. Perry felt just like that, a dog, her dog, alive only at her pleasure. It was never more real to him than right then. Delilah could sense his fear and smiled at how powerful she was, dominating this killer of women. She entered the kitchenette drawing closer to Perry, until she was standing inches from him. He started to visibly shake. She reached over on the counter and grabbed her newly filled glass of Pepsi, then turned around and left him alone in the kitchenette. She sat on the bed, enjoying her Pepsi. Perry, meanwhile, exhaled a sigh of relief and turned away, still shaking, then took a drink of his own Pepsi trying to calm himself. “Don’t ya eva forget, Perry, iffin I say it, ya dead!” Delilah took another drink, then giggled. Perry paced along the counter for a moment, then thought about how to distract her. He decided to act as if nothing were wrong and pretend, she didn’t just say he was alive by her good graces alone.
“How about,” Perry turned around to the counter and started to make another sandwich, “You have another sandwich and try to relax.” Delilah sat back, more reclined on the bed. Perry brought her another sandwich and sat next to her. She took it from him without looking up. She began to consider all those she killed. Hated and loved. Her head swam, suddenly, pouring in from all the minds she ever inhabited, even the those from the people of that town she killed. They sounded like millions of whispers telling her, asking her, cursing her. She started to lose herself to the minds, becoming a crazed, mindless animal. She started to pant, her eyes started to dart around ready to lash out, animal instinct taking over again. She was on the verge of growling at the human beside her. Perry reached over and grabbed the television remote. He turned the television on. The sudden distraction quelled the voices, causing Hummingbird to emerge from within, her eyes brightened in wonder to see the television. As much as she fought it, a smile spread across her face. Hummingbird glanced up at Perry, then back to the television several times. Each time she looked at him, her smile was bigger. Perry found himself smiling with her, infected by her wide-eyed wonder with the television. Perry started to flip through the channels, stopping on cartoons. She was a child at heart after all. Hummingbird watched a few minutes of the cartoon rabbit with glee in her eyes, then started laughing. Hummingbird slid off the bed to her knees in front of the television biting her smiling lips, trying to contain her giggling. Delilah took over suddenly and looked back at Perry.
“Go open da door, Perry,” she ordered. Perry was taken aback by her sudden change in demeanor from smiling Hummingbird to stone-cold Delilah, it startled him. He got a hold of himself and did as he was told, opening the front door. A little rabbit ran into the room faster than Perry could react. It scared the shit out of him.
“Shit!” he said jumping back. The rabbit ran right into the waiting arms of Delilah. Perry thought it was a large rat.
“Hummingbird gonna play wit dis heya rabbit and watch dat,” She said tilting her head at the tv, not even slightly amused by the television, or the rabbit. She pet the small creature in her hands, “Ya leave Hummingbird be, member I say now…”
“Yeah, I… I remember, dead as old wood.” Perry said walking back to the bed. He laid back on the bed and watched her watching television. He was so exhausted he passed out, soothed by Hummingbirds soft giggles and whispers to her little rabbit. He knew that at any moment one of her others could take over and kill him while he slept. He resigned himself to it. She was going to be his death.