I fling the front door open, hurrying through it to escape the swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink, now.
When I woke up this morning, for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be. I shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open — an invitation for the heat to escape. My hand closed on the handle, ready to pull it shut. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I gripped the doorknob, my knuckles turning white as the memories rushed back.
I balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked the fabric, the memories of yesterday stitched all over its shiny plastic — the sharp, stabbing pain, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan.
Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker. Rows of one-eyed flamingos stared at me under the splatter of tears as I shivered at the memories of the cold gel, the paddle pressing on my skin, how I had held my breath until hearing the mumbles of sympathy wrapped in a “I’m so sorry”.
I stare down at my drink. The glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside too vast to flood.
I go home when the streetlights come on — beacons showing me the way. His car is in the driveway. He’s somewhere inside, and I don’t want to go in. He means well, but I can’t take it. He will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair, mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.
I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing confirms he’s in the kitchen. I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before stopping. He’s forgotten to close the bathroom door again. Inside, the curtain is gone.
I couldn’t bear to look at it, the reminder of all my pain. And yet now, as tears pool at the edge of my lids, I realise that I hate him for taking it away — the evidence, it really happened to me, even for the briefest of time. The emptiness inside deepens. How can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?
The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands but he’s really holding on to what I used to be. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame for bringing down the curtain.
Laure Van Rensburg is a French native, currently living in the UK. She studied creative writing at Ink Academy, and she has had short stories published in online magazines and anthologies including Across The Margin, Danse Macabre and Turkish Delight. Twitter handle: @Laure0901.