The Magic Window

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Set your story on (or in) a winding river.... view prompt


Fiction Suspense Thriller

His friends tried to include him as best they could, but this only made him feel more depressed, because they were the ones making the effort to drag this morbid, succories husk out of his own little world, when it was him who should be making the effort. Why should they have to put up with him, me, he thought, and though they would eventually give up the ghost, leaving him content that they no longer felt him burdening them, he would arrive home to contemplate with disdain the way in which he felt left out, out of touch, disconnected, misunderstood.

Humor used to be a good defensive mechanism, but as soon as he had become aware it of being a defense mechanism he no longer felt comfortable using it. Better to face up to the facts than employ a deflective irony. But with nothing with which to deflect, and a now acute awareness that an honesty about troubles would only be a burden upon the clearly happy and content people around him, he could only remain gravely silent, a furrowed brow christening his chastened pout.

There’s a town on Florida’s west coast that you’ve never heard of. The people that grow up there never escape. The ones that arrive there, do so to die. You might mistake it for a nursing home gone wrong, heaven’s waiting room if you will.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that after Jason managed to escape this place four years ago, he hadn’t returned. When he meets someone new in Chicago and they ask the obligatory “where’re you from,” he gives them the name of the closest city. If it wasn’t for the death of his grandmother, he never would have come back.

Admittedly his life in the city wasn’t perfect. His job as a secretary to an unscrupulous attorney was unfulfilling at best. He had hoped it would be a temporary job to pay the bills until an improv troupe discovered him; but he hadn’t been on stage in over a year, his confidence was shaken. Still on those nights when he laid in bed, fretting over a failed audition, one fact managed to soothe his bruised ego, “At least I’m not back home right now.”

He just arrived at his grandmother’s beach house, newly bequeathed unto him, when a familiar tone rang. He had been back in town for six hours (long enough to grab coffee, attend the wake, and buy a sack of weed from his old biology teacher), yet his grindr had already exploded with messages from guys in high school who never looked his way. He wasn’t much to look at growing up; but walking everywhere, existing off salads and rice cakes, and ransacking the thrift stores of Chicago had resulted in an extensive image upgrade. Jason smiled. Being home stirred up a lot of emotions, but he couldn’t deny that he was enjoying his newfound big fish status.

I became a magicians dream. I could disappear. Gone. I found comfort feeling invisible to the outside world. Maybe somewhere, someone wondered where I was. Or maybe someone was looking for me. Or wanted to save me. I couldn’t save myself, that’s for sure. I didn’t know who I was anymore, nor did I notice that I was slowly killing my soul and breaking my father’s heart. There was always someone that could aid my escape. With a snap of my fingers or a text message, I was so far gone that no one could get me. I was unstoppable. Out of control; out of my body. I was a new person killing all that remained of my spirit.

Losing consciousness was such a relief. Regaining it was not nearly as fun. My heavy head is being shaken by hands. They definitely aren’t mine. My mouth feels open. The first thing my exhausted eyes find is his worried face. His brown eyes look like they are going to pop off and roll onto the bathroom floor next to my sprawled-out body. He’s yelling at me. He’s not angry, but all he keeps repeating is my pitiful name, I don’t want any of this. I shut my heavy eye-lids. I want anything but this. I want a new escape. I want a do-over. I want this game to end. I don’t care if I win anymore. Being conscious is too much work.

My fragile body lay slumped against the yellow wall. His hands are pushing harder on my cheeks. Is he trying to save me? I don’t want to die like this, but I guess this literally isn’t in my hands anymore. My cold fingers are suctioned to the linoleum. This floor is going to be the last thing I hold. I wish this wasn’t it.

“Open your fucking eyes, Marissa. Look at me.” His voice was so persuading. I’m still alive. I look at my savior in a red hoodie. “Keep breathing,” he said, “in through your nose and out through your mouth.”

“You need to do this. Listen to me, damnit.”

I manage to lift my skull and lean it back on the yellow wall. My mouth is mumbling. My tongue feels too big. It’s blocking my voice. I want to tell him sorry; really really sorry. But those words can’t seem to fit around this massive thing in my mouth. I need to keep my eyes open and breathe. This is too much. I can’t. My upcoming demise is all I can focus on. Why try so hard to stay alive if I am just going to die?

I’m drowning. The water is so cold on my chest. Now it’s covering my face. I wake up again. I’m still here on the bathroom floor in Weymouth, Massachusetts. It’s the same place we did bumps of coke at so many times before. We used his Visa Check card and then chain-smoke Newport’s. I would sit on the sink high as fuck, but now it’s so different. I wanted to be alive then, but now death seems like paradise. 

He uses the same towel we always tucked under the door to wipe off my dripping face. I’m angry now. My makeup must be smeared and my hair is soaked. I’m so ugly. I don’t want to die ugly.

My thumbs are gone. They aren’t moving. No matter how hard I try. My body isn’t mine. Somebody else has the remote control. I can’t move my limbs or remember how to breathe. This must be how it feels to be paralyzed. “I can’t,” I whimper.

I watch him throw little plastic baggies in the toilet. The home telephone is in his left hand and he’s holding it up high. “If you pass out again, I’m getting an ambulance. Fucking breathe, Marissa.”

Can’t he just let me be? Can’t he let me die in peace? The toilet flushes as my eyes shut.

June 15, 2021 07:12

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Wally Schmidt
20:41 Dec 20, 2022

What a journey. Beautiful writing documenting the depths of despair.


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Arwen Dove
09:48 Jun 24, 2021



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