The bath is inviting. It’s over halfway full, water steaming, a glass of wine balancing on the porcelain. The only thing that could make it more perfect is a scattering of rose petals. But it’s plenty good enough.
The teacher stares into the water, contemplating if she wats to get a book or not. Usually, they find reading relaxing, but today in particular was exhausting. The children who were once so obedient have grown into teenagers and are starting to cause a ruckus, and the teenagers are growing into young adults, bored with lessons and ready to move on with their lives. Even her own son, new to silly feelings and crushing hard on the class troublemaker, had given them a hard time today.
No one paid attention. They were all talking, laughing, screaming, doing whatever they could instead. Between getting them in line and continuing with the readings, it took almost ten minutes to get through one page.
No, the teacher believes they have had enough reading today. They just want to sit in the bath and melt into the water, not having to worry about anything, wishing they could never worry about anything ever again.
They undress, leaving today’s attire on the floor, and step into the tub. The heat of the water burns them and they sigh. A hot bath is always perfect at the end of the day. There’s something about the heat that’s comforting, like they could evaporate away from all their responsibilities.
She sinks down and closes her eyes, enjoying the water, enjoying the fact that there’s nothing for her to do right now, at this moment.
If only all of life could be like this. If only all of life could be nothing.
Teaching children had definitely not been their first choice of a career, but it was what the town needed and it was something she was able to do. She’d rather spend her days walking outside, staring at the trees, chatting with her neighbors, not making any sort of mark on the world. Not being relevant to anyone’s story. Just existing. Being.
How she longs to be nothing.
After a moment, the teacher decides they’ve spent enough time feeling sorry for themself and opens their eyes, only to gasp.
Flower petals. Little red rose petals are scattered around in her bath water.
They weren’t here before. Right? The teacher tilts their head and thinks…yes, they specifically remember thinking that flower petals would made this more perfect, but she had none to use.
She sits up, glancing at the bathroom door. It’s still locked, but even if it wasn’t, she would have been able to hear if someone, like her son, come in to put petals in her bath. Wouldn’t she? She flushes at the thought and checks the knob again. Yes, yes, it’s locked. No one’s come in.
Then how did the petals get here? Did she have petals to use after all? She must be more tired than she thought.
Sighing, the teacher starts to sink back in the tub as they look at the water again, only to realize that it’s not flower petals at all.
Blood, collecting into little spots, shaped like rose petals. If it were a painting or a novel, it’d be morbidly beautiful. But it’s real, and the only thing the teacher feels is horrified.
She shrieks, attempting to jump out of the water, looking everywhere to see where the blood could have possibly come from. But she’s too weak to stand.
Confused, the teacher lifts their arms, which are bubbling and boiling. Several large holes are punctured through and blood pours out of them. The teacher lifts a leg, then the other. The same. As if someone pierced them with a rolling pin and now her own blood is collecting in the water.
What should she do? What should she do? She can’t even stand to call for help. She tries again, over and over, but she’s too weak every time. Too light headed. Too broken. Every time she tries to stand, more holes appear, some connecting with others. Melting. That’s the only way to describe it. They’re melting right now. They’re nothing more than an ice cream cone drowned in a pool.
She starts to scream and sob, hoping someone—their son, a neighbor, anyone—can hear them. Can help them. Can tell them what’s going on.
They choke, coughing up blood. They feel up their throat, where several holes grow.
No no nonono nono nono nono nono nono nonono nononono!!
A dream! It has to be! Someone wake her up! Someone help her! Please! Please! PLEASE! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE P
“Do you remember your mom at all?” David asks this often. He took a heavy interest in Darren’s past, probably because there’s so little that Darren can remember.
“No,” Darren answers, as always.
“What about your dad?”
“Not him either.”
David crosses his legs as he looks up, his fingers interlaced on his knees. He wears black only. Black hat, black dress, black tights, black shoes. Goth, that’s what they call him.
Though…who “they” are, Darren can’t quite remember.
“It’s just weird, you know?” David continues. “Because I have this itching feeling that we aren’t supposed to be talking together.”
“But my parents don’t care and you have no parents,” David explains. “So who else would want that?”
Darren shrugs. David’s always asking weird questions. Too smart for his own good. That’s what they say—whoever they are.
“Tell me your first memory again,” David says, a joke between them. Darren changes it every time, each story more ridiculous than the last.
“Well,” he starts, “I was born in a tub full of blood.”