I'd never been in that alley before; I didn't know where it would let out. Had to turn left instead of right because I came out farther down the street than I thought I would, and then I ran those last two blocks home. I clattered down the stairs to my basement room, curled up as small as I could, fell asleep clenched and gasping. Woke up late, and my roommates had already gone for the day. Dragged myself upstairs to shower, the hottest shower I could stand. Washed my hair twice. Scrubbed my fingers, my palms, under my nails. Sat limp on the floor of the tub and let the water beat down. I listened to it gurgle, loud, watched it swirl in the drain. It could have been an hour, two hours, a hundred. When I came to again I bundled my clothes up in a towel and threw them in the laundry. Hottest setting, lots of detergent. Waited, tense, on the end of my bed for the beep of the washing machine, then the dryer. Hot, hot, kill the germs. Kill the germs. Hot.
When my clothes were clean I put them in a plastic bag, along with the towel that had touched them, and I took the bag out to the dumpster and threw them away. My favorite sweatshirt too, and my earrings, and my shoes -- everything I had been wearing the day before. And the blanket I had slept on top of that night. Garbage now. Gone.
And then I was calm. I was calm because I was in control again. There was no evidence, none. It must have been a dream. It was all a terrible dream I had, and I would soon forget it.
My mum dropped by later.
"How are you?" she said.
"Fine," I said. "I'm fine."