Slipping in the shower

Submitted into Contest #118 in response to: Start your story with “Today’s the day I change.”... view prompt


Fiction Sad Contemporary

“Todays the day I change” I say as look at the mirror with my most assertive voice. The reflection I see leaves me unconvinced that those words had any conviction in them. Staring into the grime specked mirror my mind finds it hard to calibrate what I am seeing with the image I have internalised of myself. In my minds eye I am still the girl who had hopes and dreams of a life of meaning. This woman reflecting back at me bears no resemblance. She’s old, hagged and deflated. The enlarged pores, that I can’t help but fixate on, seem to exude sadness and fear. I know without question that today isn’t the day I change and with that resignation I stumble back to bed.

I see life as before and after but with no defining date to memorialise when I was robbed of the expectations that I had harboured for myself. I should have kept a diary so I could remember with distinction when I lost the ability to keep up all appearances. But even a diary would be useless. It wasn’t one particular date, or event, it was a myriad of small inconsequential happenings that amounted to the listless existence that I now inhabit.

Shifting in my sheets, that should have been changed weeks ago, I wonder if I can muster up that shower today. I sit up once more but, with even that small move and intention, I feel my chest begin to tighten. The regularity of which I feel this should propel the logical side of my brain to shift into gear. To tell my addled brain that I am in no imminent danger, and I am being not only irrational but damn right stupid. I am not going to die I can get out of this bed. What is the difference between the bed and the shower? What harm can I possibly come to?

But as with every internalised fight before the logic always retreats. Like some battle-weary soldier, it knows it cannot win. The enemy is too strong and far far too devious to be defeated so easily. Of course, there is danger in the shower. What if you slip and fall? What if you bang your head on the jagged handle that is nothing more than a death trap? What if the shower gel squirts out under your foot leaving you primed to fall on the slate floors? The shower is a place of immeasurable danger and going there would be nothing less than playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun.

'And there would be no one to find your body' my mind helpfully reminds me. You could be writhing around in pain for hours, no days, incapacitated by the fall and no one would hear your cries or come to your rescue. People are so used to never hearing from you, from months of rejected calls and messages and cancelled dates, that not hearing from you would not only not be a surprise but expected. So, you would be writhing around naked and in pain until dehydration finally leads to the sweet release of death. A death you will be begging for to remove you from the misery of your situation. And then your body will be left to rot and decompose until finally, finally, someone would smell a cloying and disgusting smell emanating from your house and your body will finally be taken away.

My heart is now racing and beads of sweat pooling under my breasts and knees. I know I need to breath into my stomach but what if this time it is a heart attack. Can I feel pain in my jaw and left arm? I know I can sense some numbness. Has my heart rate increased even more? I must remember to breath. I need to remember the training, look at five things, smell four or is it smell five? Can I smell anything? My chest is really starting to hurt now. I need to find my phone. Did I leave the door unlocked? How will the paramedics get in? Can they knock down doors in an emergency? And what happens if they can? They will find me clutching my chest, soaked in sweat and they will be disgusted by the mess and the stench that envelopes me.

Searching around the chaos of my room my eyes linger on the pile of mess that used to resemble a bedside table. Amongst the rubbish and balled up tissues I see the tablets and take two. If these don’t help in ten minutes, I will call an ambulance. I won’t die today. I look around and see the empty bottles and pots of food that only need to heated in a microwave or cooked with boiling water. I am sure that paramedics they are trained to look past all of this. I will just say I have been feeling ill for a few weeks. That will surely add to the story. I am sure that they see scenes like this all the time.

Grabbing my phone again I check my heart rate with my other hand. I don’t think its any faster. I think the pills are starting to work. I take a breath in and realise that my chest isn’t as tight as it was a minute ago. Its starting to subside. The logical side of my brain is back from its fearful retreat once more and seems less weary. I can feel things shift just a little and rest my head against the pillow. I know I will feel better after some sleep. I know I just need a little more rest. And you know, I can try again tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day I can change. It doesn’t have to be today. Today I even got out of bed and that’s a start. Tomorrow is the day that I can get to the shower. As everything begins to fade into nothingness, I am more sure than ever that tomorrow is the day.

November 05, 2021 14:12

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Micah Bachner
21:16 Nov 10, 2021

I appreciate how you project beyond the moment while remaining in it. Specifically, the internal dialogue about locking out the paramedics and the character hoping they don't judge the state of the home. Well done!


Leah Reynolds
07:54 Nov 11, 2021

Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it.


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