Jonas left the front door open as he sprinted past his wife into the downstairs guest bathroom. He used his elbow to close the bathroom door and keep Camila at bay while he cleaned up his goddamn mess. He’d taken two showers in the lab, but could still feel the chemicals seeping into his hands like dry skin soaks in a fresh slather of lotion.
The shoebox-sized guest bathroom was wedged in the corner of the kitchen under the stairs to the bedrooms on the second floor. At the tiny sink, Jonas didn’t bother with the pump on the soap bottle, but used his teeth to take off the lid and dumped globs of soap directly onto his hands and chucked the glass bottle in the tiny trash can tucked beside the toilet. Hot tap water steamed up the mirror over the small pedestal sink. Jonas tried the switch for the ventilation fan, but nothing happened.
“Fuck,” Jonas said and flipped the switch to the off position.
“You okay?” Camila asked from the other side of the thin door.
When they designed this home before moving to Mineral Springs several years ago, they opted for the tankless water heater which provided an endless supply of scalding hot water on demand. As he ran the soap and suds between his two hands he was thankful for his forethought on that one detail.
The aroma of lavender and vanilla drifted on the steam. He opened the utility closet and snatched a nail brush off a small hook Camila had stuck to the door. Jonas scrubbed from his nails to his elbows. The thick rubber gloves he wore at work to work with the volatile mix of chemicals in his latest innovation had begun to deteriorate. When he’d finished the painstaking process of varnishing the seeds by hand and pulled the gloves off to start the next step, he noticed a small hole in the heavy rubber between the thumb and forefinger and now all he could see was the iridescence that initially coated his innovation and now coated his hand.
He ripped open the small cabinet over the toilet tank and grabbed the bottle of cleaner closest to him. He spun the sprayer top off and dumped the blue liquid over his hands. The strong ammonia odor stung his eyes and burned his nasal passages like it singed his nose hairs. The steam irritated his lungs. It started as a tickle at the back of his throat and quickly grew into a desperate need to cough. He tried to ignore the panic that gripped his hammering heart. The shimmer on his hands didn’t fade, only glowed a brighter violet.
Camila rapped on the door. “Baby?”
He couldn’t touch his wife with this shit on his skin. “I’ll be out in a minute.” His desperation ratcheted up another level. He used his teeth to open another bottle of cleaner and dumped it over his hands.