The Towel

A tale where conscience dissolves.

M.A. Mercier
Writers’ Blokke
Published in
5 min readMay 5, 2021


It used to hang there, the towel of course. By there, I mean on the hanger of the door. We had but one of them and all five of us used the exact same one. It wasn’t washed until we went on a vacation, which was only once a month. Every month, we used to go to the city to watch the circus and it gained its opportunity to being washed. Now, however, there are not one but five of them, pinned on separate hangers.

Photo by Marcel Kovačič on Unsplash

‘One for each would suffice.’ The eldest one had remarked, and we four hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, but nodded anyway. Since the moment I got to know that he was indeed talking about the towel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the towel which had served us for all these years, and I thought it to be crucial for our very lives. I was the youngest and thus had lured the eldest to assign me the old towel which wouldn’t prove to be at all difficult.

Since then, I took a great time of mine to just watch it flutter every minute or so. It looked awfully brilliant at the first sight and even better the next. This, though, changed as I unconsciously moved towards it. The dreadful smell was unwelcoming, at the least. So I made a mental note to observe it from distance. I wouldn’t sleep at nights and neither did I sleep in the afternoons, as was the tradition in the house. After enduring sleepless nights, I slowly began to hate it, bit by bit, but still, I watched it. I watched it till my eyes were red. For the first time in five days, I fell asleep.

After seemingly have slept for days, I woke up, only to find that I had woken up just in time for everyone else, and so the breakfast wasn’t ready. Meanwhile, I comprehended one feels hungrier after waking up than not sleeping. After a long break, I resumed my examination of the towel that was still fluttering noisily in the calm and peaceful surrounding. This made me hate it even more. It occurred to me it isn’t pretty at all and that it must not be seen. Which wasn’t easy. I watched it, even though I hated it because I couldn’t help it. Some days passed with me sleeping regularly now and thus had to see lesser of it.

I always dreaded the prospect of having to wear a mask, so I wasn’t allowed to move out of the house until the pandemic had been contained. So, I had nothing to do but watch the towel. Presently, I had started to whimper regularly, which I concluded was because of the ugly towel. So I made a decision. I stopped watching it.

Image by Starnly ojike from Pixabay

This was a rather easy decision to make, but much harder to follow, primarily because seeing it was not an option, but a compulsion, as I had to use it. And after seeing it, I couldn’t help but watch it, because it was interesting, even though it was the ugliest thing there was. And soon enough, I began to loathe it. I wanted to destroy it. I wanted to shred it to pieces and burn the pieces off.

This, though, was much harder. Due to the current situation, a robbery was extremely unlikely, if possible, which could’ve been the most appropriate reason for a new one. So, I mustered courage and walked to the eldest of us and solemnly asked, ‘ Sir, can I change my towel? ’

The eldest was dumbfounded. He thought of this as trivial, and yet he could sense that I was earnest. He had no solution to this though. They had bought four new towels for health purposes and exchanging them would have been counterproductive. So he replied as politely as possible,

‘ Child, I haven’t got an extra towel, you see, and exchanging them would be a threat to you. Please try to understand and maybe I’ll get you a towel from the market in a few days. Will that be okay for you?’

I hadn’t seen him politer and even though he seemed extremely unlikely to scold, and I was dying to throw the towel out of sight, I just nodded and went away. That night was dreadful. I just couldn’t keep my ever-frowned face from turning towards the wretched towel.

Now it was unbearable. I still was watching it and was, at the same time, thinking of ways to destroy it. I then remembered the very beginning, the time I started to watch it, love it. It was because we bought a new towel and I thought of it as the old one which served us. It led nowhere.

I was distraught. I cried and cried, until the morning, while not blinking once due to fear of losing sight of my newest addiction. I wiped my tears and forcibly got up and moved to the kitchen all four of them were already present. The eldest eyed me and then smiled inexplicably. Until I could make something out of it, he was gone, through the backdoor to bring some vegetables for lunch and dinner.

I went back to my now-favourite pastime and addiction, the great towel watch. Now, it seemed a bit lesser appalling as well as lesser appealing. But still, it was, so to say, ugly. And very ugly at that. I had a good night’s sleep and woke up and just peeked at my towel, which was still there, still fluttering and that annoyed me to no limits. I judged this was all because of me and the eldest. I was anxious to do something awful. I was not myself anymore. My hatred for the towel had overcome several things, my love for the towel, my decency and love for our crazy little family’s head, the eldest and of course, the affection for myself.

Photo by Miles Burke on Unsplash

I took a sharp scissor, for a knife was out of bounds for me, and walked silently towards the eldest, there I was, with opportunity striking to avenge and I did it in the midst of as many thoughts as my little mind could possibly process. And then, I did it to myself.