Bills Phantom

Submitted into Contest #219 in response to: Set your story in a type of prison cell.... view prompt


Sad Suspense Romance

I've been in these pants for... too long. Been in this house for too long. Alone for too long. Stop procrastinating. Change your pants. 

I sulk off the sofa, aiming my feet towards the bathroom...the bathroom? Why am I in the bathroom? Pants. I need pants. Stepping out of the bathroom, I shake my head, trying to wake. I don’t. Sluggishly, I then step towards the dresser, an old, rickety sorta creature. Locating the pant drawer I reach for the handle.


A sharp pinch to my fingertip. It's a splinter. This wakes me up. Rubbing my eyes I examine the handle. Now that I’m really looking I see splinters jut out in every direction.  

"Don’t worry Mr. Dresser, Bill will sand you down when he gets back.”

Yes, I am talking to a dresser. Bills been gone over a month. Can you blame me? He’s not gone-gone. No, just on a business trip. Anyways, without him here I’ve been a little…stir-crazy and more than a little lonely. 

Bill. That’s my husband, my home. I miss him.

He’s been checking in everyday. He knows about my walk in the park on Monday. He knows about the bluejay I saw at the feeder on Tuesday. He knows about that stupid car commercial I liked on Friday. How did the theme song go? Can't remember.  

But what Bill, my dear husband, doesn't know, is that tomorrow I leave. Where to? Australia, of course, that’s where he is. 

Yep, I'm going to surprise him. Oh gosh, I can’t wait to see his face when he sees me, to hug him. I paid for everything myself, managed to find discounted tickets, something about a weather warning… Purchased it under my own card, Bill won't suspect a thing. Sneaky sneaky.

I swear, It’s not some “sad, desperate wife” moment. It’s just… Bills birthday is this week. I’ve never done anything extravagant for his birthday, not at least to the level he deserves.

It’s also for our marriage. That sounds bad but it’s not that serious. We are a very happy couple, at least compared to our couple friends. We’ve just been sinking into some patterns, little ones, normal marriage tiffs. Before he left, we had a fight. It’s just that he’s never had these month long business trips, not before this new job. This new job that he took to better take care of us. I know, terribly selfish of me to have complained. We worked it out, over the phone..does that count? Anyways, It’s been on my mind. Haunting me a bit. 

I’m on the floor now, slumped at the feet of that dresser. Daydreaming again. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I need to wake up. Wake up! Get pants. Start packing.  

I spring to my feet, the thought of Bill jolts me with stamina. I grab pajama pants, it’s nearly evening now. Opening my suitcase, I began rummaging through the drawers. After assembling a few decent outfits I arrive at my sock drawer.

Do I need hiking shoes? I have flip-flops for the beach but hiking shoes…

We’ll probably go hiking… It's Australias, we’ll go hiking.

Would my sandals work? No, it’ll be way too wet…too…wet? 

My eyes dart open. My hands lay lifelessly in the sock drawer, the sock drawer pooled with water. I slowly raise a sock, study it. It’s heavy, damp. Water trickles down my arm.


I marvel at the scene for a minute, or two, maybe three. 

Am I dreaming? 

The trickle drips on my leg, I shiver. 


Staring numbly for another few minutes, I then resolve to dump the socks into the washer.  

I don’t have time for this. I’ll tell Bill about it, He’ll fix it. 

I get back to packing, stuffing the remainder of clothes into my suitcase, zipping it triumphantly. The sun set a while ago. I know this because the room is pitch black.

Did I have no lights on? What have I been doing all day? What HAVE I been doing all day? 

I honestly couldn’t tell you.   

I fall asleep right there, kneeling on my suitcase, in the dark, in the cold. 

I wake up, my body aches. It’s humid in my room, damp. My hair clings to the back of my neck. Gross. 

I rinse off in the shower, wash my face, and put on some makeup. The humidity still lurks in the air. Our AC must be broken…Bill will look at it.

Walking back into my room I see the pile of socks, the wet socks. Did I not put these in the washer? What’s wrong with me?

I stay in that state for a second. Analyzing the scene. Analyzing myself.

Is it my memory? Is that what's been off… No, I’m 28, can’t be my memory. Is it because of Bill? Can I not function as an adult without my husband? I always thought of myself as an independent person, praised myself for it. Now look at me… what have I become? No, no. This isn’t actually me. This isn’t actually who I’ve become. I’ve just been lonely, that’s all. That’s normal, human. He is my home after all, strange things happen when your home is, well…far. I will see Bill. Yes, I will see Bill and everything be normal. Everything will be ok. Wake up. 

I stop staring at the pile, bend down, and began gathering them, one by one. 

How are they still wet? Whatever…

I chuck them into the washing machine. Foul. 

I hurl myself and belongings into the car. Drive to the airport, get my ticket, and go through TSA. I then get on that plane. 

That plane that didn’t take me to Bill. That plane that was hit by a tropical storm. That plane that crashed on this island. This prison. Away from home. Away from Bill.

And Bill will never find me, how could he? He never knew I was coming.

To him, I will have vanished from that house, a phantom. But no! No It’s not true Bill!

I would never leave you. Will never leave you. But will you leave me? Will you stop looking for me? Will my memory seep into the walls of our home? Will it start to rot the wood, slowly disintegrating into dust, becoming nothing. I wonder how long it will take. For me to become nothing. 

I wake now, in reality. I lay here, cold, wet, alone. Still under this tree. The same tree I lay under before sleeping. This tree, where I will lay under forever.

This tree… no, no not so much a tree, but a dresser? Yes, a dresser. My dresser, from my home. I am not a phantom. Yes, I am home.

These pants…I got to change these pants.

October 12, 2023 21:03

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Humble Sparrow
22:53 Oct 19, 2023

How sad! Dementia, I assume. I wasn't sure why the socks were wet but maybe it's all just part of the hallucination? I like that you didn't take the prompt literally. I didn't either with my story "Palimpsest."


Korinne H.
18:08 Nov 03, 2023

Hey there! Thank you for the read. Dementia is an interesting perspective on the narrators mental state. I wrote it from the perspective of her (in reality) actually on an island. She is drifting in and out of delusions, imaging herself back home. There are a few subtle clues indicating that it (the home) is a false reality. She gets splinters from her "dresser" which represents the rough tree she is actually touching. The water/ wet socks represent actually pools of water that surround her on the island. Again, thank you for the read an...


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