The clock in the hallway chimes out the hour.

At the kitchen sink, she turns on the faucet and watches the warm water flow over her hands and down the drain. Soap, a fragrant lavender blend from her favorite bath store, foams up as she squishes it through her fingers.

The scent catches her attention only for a moment, then she’s back to her task.

Twisting and turning her hands around each other, squeezing the fragrant soap between them, she feels the grime of the day leave her body through her hands. Such a dirty day, and it feels so good to wash it all away.

One thousand one, one thousand two…..

The warm water makes her think about the twins, who love to play in the bathtub even though they’re in kindergarten now.

She’ll need to go pick them up soon.

She soaps up again, not quite finished yet. The water feels a bit too hot now, so she turns it down ever so slightly. Smelling the soap again, she hopes it’s working.

One thousand one, one thousand two….

The clock chimes out the half hour.

She turns off the water. The towel is just out of reach by the stove and she stretches to grab it without leaving her spot in front of the sink.

Patting her hands so gently with the towel, she glances at the clock. The twins will be out of school in 15 minutes, she has just enough time.

She turns on the faucet and watches the warm water flow over her hands. She reaches for the lavender soap and squirts some into her palm, breathing in the aroma.

She hopes it works better this time.

One thousand one, one thousand two….

This post is for the Red Dress Club’s weekly writing club, Red Writing Hood. This week’s prompt: Water gives life, water takes life away.

This post is fictional, but for a woman like this who suffers from OCD that compels her to wash her hands over and over again, water is indeed taking her life away.


  1. Nichole says:

    Okay, Sherri? I love this!
    I love that you have made us see what it is like to have OCD…through her eyes, that it doesn't seem strange…but indulgent and blissful.
    Awesome job, my friend. I can smell the lavender now.

  2. rita @yippymomma says:

    Making the imagination wheels turn in my brain!

  3. tsonodablog says:

    I love what you did with the prompt. This was so unusual and the description made me want to wash my hands with lavender soap..but probably just once. πŸ™‚ Nicely done!

  4. From Tracie says:

    So good. A very original take on the prompt.

    All the time that she spends in front of that sink, missing out on life. Sad.

  5. Mandyland says:

    Oh I really liked this. What an interesting direction to take the prompt. She's literally washing her life away.

  6. Nice take on the prompt. OCD does this, doesn't it! Nice work

  7. wouldn't it be so awesome if we all could wash our hands and cares away like that? oh, how life would be different!

  8. Trina Curran says:

    Love it! I'm OCD with my vacuum…ugh. I even named it. πŸ™‚ Just stopping through via a Travel Babbles shout out from Big Teeth and Clouds. Love your blog!

  9. Oh! A little OCD there! Great description. I love the last part where you say "She hopes it works better this time." Just perfect. I grew up with a sister with OCD and this captures it so perfectly.

  10. I read this twice, because I didn't see your explanation at the bottom and I didn't know whether this was part of a continuing story…I LOVED it. Very vivid imagery.

  11. julie gardner says:

    Love it.

    I have no touch of OCD when it comes to washing. In fact, I wish I were a bit more germophobic.

    I have never worried much about washing away the dirt of my day.

    But this woman? She thinks of nothing else. And I felt like I was there with her.


  12. This was great. Being an OCD sufferer myself, I caught on to what she was doing about halfway through. You captured a part of OCD so well and did it in a way that every word was interesting and intriguing. I may be a bit partial to the twins part too! πŸ˜‰

  13. Okay, it took me a little to figure out OCD. I almost was thinking she'd done something bad and was trying to wash it off (apparently my mind lives on the Dark Side!).

    I loved all the sensory details: I could smell the soap, feel the water and the bubbles. Nice job!

  14. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:

    This is a bit sickening for me to read. I feel so bad for fictional people sometimes. It's hard to keep in mind that they're not even real.

  15. Well done! Like Cheryl, I first thought she was washing away a bad deed.
    The lavender kept me reading. I love lavender.

  16. This was awesome. I love your take on the prompt!

    Visiting from RDC

  17. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) says:

    Wonderful writing here Sherri. I could picture this woman so clearly. Loved it.

  18. Ilana @ mommyshorts says:

    I'm with Cheryl. I was thinking there was going to be a big horrific twist at the end. The OCD is actually a really interesting interpretation of the prompt. I didn't catch on before reading the note at the end. And then of course I reread. Well done.

  19. I felt the Something creeping up as I read, fearing something horrible, but your ending was just… right.

    Fresh, unique, true and sad.

  20. Gives me the heeby-jeebys honestly, and makes me want to slather her in hand cream, poor poor woman.

    Great details Sherri! Oh and I didn't cry! Score!

  21. erin margolin says:

    I have total empathy for her, having some slight OCD tendencies myself (though nothing like this). Beautiful way to take on the prompt. Seamless. Flowing.

    I want to give her a hug. But she probably wouldn't want my germs.

  22. I just tried to post a comment, and blogger lost it, so this is not nearly as in depth as previous one.

    I loved your post. I disliked your post.

    Loved: the writing. I could smell, touch, feel, everything going on in the scene. It was tangible.

    Disliked: the portrayal of OCD. The character seems happy, content in her washing. She knows it will take a while, but only the smallest references are made to "being dirty."

    One of my dearest friends has OCD, not just "OCD tendencies." It nearly took over her entire life.

    What you missed was the extreme anxiety that fuels OCD. Anxiety of contamination. Anxiety that if you don't perform a ritual, bad things will happen. Washing can be a compulsion – they HAVE to do it, often a set number of times, then repetition of those sets.

    It frustrates me the portrayal of OCD in media – often as funny. There is nothing funny about it.

    I'm sorry for the rant. Please, read the post my friend did about what living with OCD is like – it was eye opening even for me. I also did a post from the outside, what's it's like watching someone live with OCD.

    I did love the writing, so beautiful. You just hit a hot button. πŸ™‚

    Here's what it's like, a disease like anything else, but so misunderstood.


    *Kelly K @ Dances/Writing with Chaos

  23. Such detail!

  24. And yes, I always win the prize for lamest comment.

  25. Booyah's Momma says:

    I never would have thought to do something like this with that prompt. You are so creative, Sherri. And so vividly described.

  26. Sluiter Nation says:

    This is such a unique way to go with the prompt! I love that you went this way with it.

    And I loved the writing. Beautiful, my friend.

  27. I really liked this, Sherri! Great detail. What a brilliant take on the prompt. I am a chronic hand washer and maybe a little OCD too. Thankfully, it's not debilitating.