Quietus

Mental-State-Remix

**TRIGGER WARNING** SELF HARM The trigger is after the “continue reading” link. 1035 words for the continuation. I’m thinking of calling it Mental State. I’m gonna try it on for a little while and see how it holds up. I used prompts from #TuesFlashFicTrain, Inspiration Monday, and #3WW.

* * *

Steven uncovered his smartphone and looked at the time. He groaned after Lindsay had been in the bathroom for over thirty minutes. He had heard her run water in the bathtub, but she had yet to reappear.

She’s probably crying, he thought, or trying to figure out some argument to start the cycle all over again.

Steven grumbled under his breath and strode to the bathroom door. He rapped on the door with his knuckles. “Lindsay, did you fall in?” The corner of his mouth quirked upward as he thought of the joke his father had used so many times a very long time ago. “Lindsay?”

He pressed his ear to the door, but could hear nothing on the other side of the door. “Lindsay, this isn’t funny,” he yelled through the door and twisted the doorknob to reveal that it was locked. He hammered on the door with his fist, and his heart thundered in his chest.

A chill raced down his spine, and he threw his body against the door. His effort only resulted in a sharp pain that radiated down his arm and made his fingers go numb. Steven leaned against the hallway and kicked the wooden door next to the doorknob. He felt the sting of tears at the corners of his eyes as he kicked at the door a second time. Each impact had jarred his leg, but it was nothing like when he tried using his shoulder.

He kicked a third time. Why does this always seem to work in the movies? he thought as he felt a crack in the painted wooden door frame. He prepared for a fourth try, but he heard a knock at the front door.

Steven looked from the bathroom door to the front door with hesitation. Another knock on the front door sounded out, this one more insistent, more forceful.

“Steven?” a muffled voice sounded from the hallway. “Are you all right in there?”

“I’m all right, Missus Nesbitt,” he shouted and kicked the bathroom door once again.

This time, the doorframe splintered, and the jamb swung from its fracture point and struck Steven in the head.

“Mother fu…” he started to say while rubbing the top of his head, but the bathroom door swung open, and his attention focused solely on the bathtub.

Blonde hair cascaded over the foot of the bathtub. Lindsay was partially submerged fully clothed. He could see the water below the rim, and a murky pink floated on the water. When it touched her sodden clothes, it clung as stubborn vermillion. A scream escaped his lips, and Steven rushed to the side of the tub. He tried to pull Lindsay up, but the long bloody gash from the middle of her arm to her wrist was slick. Her eyes were closed, and it looked as if she were enjoying a relaxing bath.

“Steven?” Missus Nesbitt called through the front door, but Steven couldn’t reply even if he was inclined to do so.

He pulled Lindsay out of the bathtub by gripping her under her arms. His knee cracked against the porcelain toilet, and he almost dropped her. He was acutely aware that Lindsay’s phone tumbled off the toilet seat, and clattered to the floor.

“Steven?” Missus Nesbit shouted from the hallway and pounded on the door. “I’m calling the police if you don’t answer me!”

Tears flowed free, mixing with Lindsay’s wet clothes. Her blonde hair stuck to his chest, and even though she was thin, he had to wrestle with her waterlogged body to get her limp legs to clear the bathtub edge. He staggered back, slipping on the wooden debris from the shattered doorframe.

“Steven? I’m dialing nine-one-one.”

He was vaguely aware of the incessant voice coming from the front door. His shoulders sagged, as he shook his girlfriend. Wails followed him shouting her name that interrupted sobs of grief and despair. As he clutched her lifeless body, a chill set in from his wet clothes. He tried to take her pulse when his initial shock had subsided, but her good wrist and neck revealed nothing. He even attempted to put his ear to her mouth, but a steady thundering overpowered any breath sounds she might have made.

As the totality of the situation settled on Steven, he glanced around the vacant bathroom that barely accommodated her frail body. Her elbows akimbo where he dragged her out of the bathtub had bumped everything on the sink. Splashes of crimson pooled in the grout, and trails of tinged water ran down the side of the bathtub. He arranged her arms on her chest and staggered to the telephone on the counter. He picked it up with shaking hands, and he had to try several times before his thumb found the number nine on the phone. His thumb hovered over the one button, and he noticed that his smartphone cast an eerie glow against the counter.

“Steven!” Missus Nesbitt called through the door. “The police will be here any minute now. Steven, please talk to me!”

He set the telephone in its cradle and picked up his smartphone, an animation indicating that he had a text message. A smear of blood stuck to the display as he flicked the screen to reveal the text message. Each number of his access code left a bloody fingerprint.

His eyes clouded again as he read the text message from Lindsay.

I can’t do this anymore. This is how it has to happen. He told me that this was the only way that you would be free from me. I did this for you. I want you to know that I always loved you. Goodbye Steven.

Steven threw his smartphone at the kitchen wall and slumped to his knees. Sharp voices sounded from the hallway. Pounding and rattling were but faint sounds as he wrapped his arms around his knees and sobbed. He ignored the cacophony around him. He ignored the rough hands yanking him to his feet with abrupt purpose. Instead, he focused on the memory of what he saw in the bathroom.

The one girl he knew he would love always was gone. Aways; never; those words now held the same meaning.

Next: Guilt

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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