When the shower hates me, she gives me the cold shoulder, responding warmly only when frustration has driven me to crank her red knob to the left extreme. This is how we argue, although I do most of the talking. Silently she bears my insults and takes her time burning me, biding her time, allowing the temperature to spike suddenly only after half convincing me that I’ve broken her—but I know it’s all out of love.

I try to listen, but our relationship lacks the common ground necessary to really cultivate deep communication. I speak English and want to be accepted for who I am, rank in scent or not. She speaks only hot and cold dialects of H2O, causing the numbers on the water bill to grasp at my earnings while she relentlessly mocks my cleanliness. Because I’m never clean enough for her, I storm out of the shower early, cutting our rendezvous short for the sake of money that allows her to thrive in the first place.

This is how it is though: I make the money and she uses it; I get dirty and she cleans me up so I can get back out there to make the money she uses. It’s a simple life, but in all fairness, she’s never asked for anything more. And, I can’t say that she’s a bad one either. It’s the loyalty we have that keeps us going. I always come home, and she’s always there. Even when I walk in late without calling, there she is, right where I left her, venting feelings on my absence through the pitter-patter of drops.

We usually become intimate in the morning. In my youth—with other showers—I would prefer an evening of intimacy with cleanliness. Yet, as it stands now, I need her more in the morning to wake me up so I can get out there and make her money. We do sometimes meet at night, but only on special occasions when I need to go out and meet someone else. I know she doesn’t like it, but her loyalty keeps me clean, even if I am seeing someone else on the side. And, as I said, I always come back.

People don’t understand it so much—and I can’t say that I really get it all the time either—yet, somehow we do, her and I. There exists a unique sense of comfort found in the certainty of knowing that I’ll always need her and that she’ll always drain me. My only fear is thinking that one day she won’t warm up to me anymore, no matter how far I should turn her red knob. I fear the thought of her giving up, of seeing me for what I really am, someone that could never be truly clean, ever.