• Emily Kim

Covid-19: According to my Bar of Soap

Updated: Aug 9

I’m equal parts goats’ milk (French), lye (French), and lavender extract (Spanish). I say this first because I’ve noticed how a lot of Americans start with that—I’m Gerry, nice to meet ya. [...] Yeah, well, I’m half Nigerian, half French!

I was manufactured and marketed as organic. I don’t feel any different than the mass-produced soaps from Carrefour, if I’m being honest. Although I will say that the creamy, matte box I was packaged in had a nice feel to it, qualité.

Since the Korean-American girl bought me, I’ve gone to live with her and her boyfriend in Spain. I’ve spent most of my time in her guest bath on a little ceramic heart that says Thank You. I’m a token luxury of her privileged travels. Her American friends visit and handle me carefully, praising the silky lather as that highqualityyoucanonlyfindinhiddenFrenchmarkets, you know? REAL goods, not the fake stuff we have back home. The girl that bought me, nods, glowing.

In December she and her boyfriend moved, so now I’m in the main bathroom—her bathroom really. He uses the smaller one down the hall. For aesthetic-sake, I’ve been bumped up from occasional to daily use. I look good, chic in the big new bathroom.

The last few weeks she’s been using me more and more; I feel my age. The other day she dropped me and a corner chipped. At first I was self-conscious, but I’ve since been worn smooth with use.

A few days ago she came in crying. Someone on the metro told her to go back to China, called her “china sucia.” She swallowed and said she understood it came from fear; her boyfriend with the curly hair hugged her, brushed her hair back.

It’s been twelve days now that they haven’t left the house. They say they are under quarantine. The word felt light when they said it at first, but now they talk of fines for taking a walk or leaving the house without a real reason. The word now tastes like lead. I see them both every day, working from home. She spends a few more minutes in front of the mirror, something about taking advantage of the time… somethingsomething-bikini-body.

Every night applause echoes on all sides. She comes in, tired from adjusting to this new routine, and peels off her clothes to shower. She smiles and says, “Isn’t it nice that we all come together each night?” Her boyfriend nods, “Not just for the healthcare workers, but for all of us.” He kisses her cheek and she runs the water.

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