Eleanor sees Andrew out and kisses his cheek. “Goodnight my love, drive safe.” she says as she closes the door and locks the deadbolt. Eleanor removes her shoes and places them neatly beside the door.
She’s not much to look at, her hair is a frizzy mess that she keeps held back in a loose bun on the back of her head. Her lips are dull, never covered with any color or gloss. Above her eyes she wears a modest amount of shadow, only one shade darker than her own skin. She wears no mascara or eyeliner. Eleanor is plain, but Andrew loves her.
Things have not always been so easy for Eleanor – she hadn’t always loved herself. In fact for her first 22 years she had struggled with this, until Andrew. Poor Andrew, when he met Eleanor he should have known better than to get involved. But somewhere deep inside Andrew there was a voice, a voice that told him he had to help her. A voice that had spoke to him since that first time they met.
It was a brisk Thursday in November, when Eleanor had decided to take 57 asprin and then leave the house to buy bread. When Eleanor made eye contact with Andrew and passed out he knew that she needed his help. He called 911 and then rode with her in the ambulance. After they pumper her stomach he sat next to her bed, holding her hand.
They’d been together ever since.
Eleanor walked into the living room and sits down on the soft leather couch. It’s now – now that she’s alone, now that Andrew has a prior engagement, that her mind starts to wander. Does he really love her? Does he care if she lives or dies? Obviously he doe, but to Eleanor that hard to fathom since he is not sitting next to her holding her hand.
As Eleanor’s mind wanders, so does her body. She wanders to the bathroom and removes the bottle of aspirin from behind the toilet paper under the sink. Hidden away, just in case.
In the kitchen she pours herself a tall glass of vodka, with just a splash of water. She wanders back to the living room and sits the glass carefully on a coaster. Calmly she opens the bottle of pills and starts to count out 58.
Filed under: Fiction, Rough Draft, Writing | Tags: Fiction, short story, Writing
I took my phone out of my bag and turned it back on. No new messages, no missed calls. Of course. Now the movie was over and I had nothing to do other than wonder around the city until time to return home.
I walked out of the theatre and was blinded by the day’s brightness. Squinting I looked both ways and decided that turning left would be the wisest choice. I had come from the right, and walked until I found this theatre which played only classic movies. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, what a classic. I removed the pen and notepad from my bag, and quickly jotted “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: It’s truly a great film, but how overrated!” I put my pad back into my bag and began my journey down the street.
I walked until I felt that my legs could no longer support me and stumbled into a small cafe. The heavy wooden door closed behind me and I stood there in the entrance for several moments, taking in the beauty. Paper lanterns hung at different lengths from the ceiling. Decorations are from many countries, as if the designer had traveled the world and picked up one item from each country as a memento for this hideaway. A plush green couch sat against a brown wall, with a rust colored settee across from it. People were scattered throughout the building, all in their own groups. All different ages. All different backgrounds. They all came here. Each of them holding a completely different coffee or tea cup. Many of them smoking. All of the smiling.
I finally realize that I’ve lingered into the doorway for too long and I stumble towards the counter. A woman with short black hair smiles at me. She wears no uniform, just a simple purple dress and a pair of black tights. “Hey, I’m Anna. What can I get for you?”
“Hi! Um…do you have soy milk?”
“Soy, rice, almond, everything but cow’s milk. And well, human I guess.” Anna says with a grin.
“Oh! Wow, impressive.”
“Yeah, the owner is a vegan.” She shrugs and smiles at me.
“Well, I’ll take an iced soy chai latte, with two shots of espresso please.”
“One extra dirty iced soy chai, coming right up. You can go ahead and have a seat if you want, I’ll bring it over.”
“Okay, thanks. How much did you say I owe you?”
“This one is on me.”
I wondered over to an empty area of the building and sit down on a bright purple chair. This was easily the most comfortable chair I had ever sat in, and immediately I began to wonder how I could take it home with me. I open my bag and remove a cigarette from my case. I don’t normally smoke, but I always carry cigarettes – just in case I don’t feel cool enough. Just like I never drink tequila, unless everyone at the party is doing shots. Such a sucker. I begin to search for a lighter and then I hear one click in front of me.
I look up, it’s Anna. In her hand she is holding a pig shaped lighter with two flaming nostrils. On the coffee table in front of me she has placed two drinks in beautifully detailed glasses. Completely different from each other, yet somehow complementary.
I light my cigarette and say thank you. Anna sits down on a chair next to me. “My name is Nina, I’m not from around here.”
“I can tell,” Anna says, lighting a cigarette rolled in a pale pink paper. “It’s okay, no one is really from here. We all just end up here, kind of like Vegas. You’ve got the few Las Vegas natives, but they’re all bat shit crazy.”
I laugh and take a sip from my drink. It tastes amazing, I’ve ordered this drink from every cafe I’ve ever walked into, and it has never tasted this good. “I’m just here for the day, I came on an impulse. I do this thing, where I move somewhere new every six months. It’s really stupid, I mean, it makes it hard to make new friends – and it’s horribly expensive. But this town seems really nice, I can see myself settling down here.” I’ve never actually said that before now, admitting that I want to settle down.
“I love that. It’s always been my dream, to keep moving to different places. The owner of this place is kind of like that, he lives here – but he only comes home a few days a year. He just travels. I think he’s in Norway, or well, he was last time he called, God knows where he is now.”
“Wow, that’s great, what is this place called? I didn’t even look at the sign.”
“There is no sign. It’s called Drained, but he found that naming a place doesn’t give it the freedom it needs. He took the sign down last time he was here, he said that way this is whatever the customers need to be to them. He’s kind of a stoner that way.”
I find myself extremely attracted to Anna, which is odd since I’ve never felt that way about a woman. She’s not particularly beautiful, but she radiates with everything I’ve ever wanted to be.
“Drained, that’s a really nice name. How long have you lived here?”
Anna shrugs and sips from her drink. “I’m really bad at keeping track of time, I guess about six years. I can’t really remember ever living anywhere else though. This is home.”
I’m instantly jealous of Anna. I want her life. I want her since of home. No place had ever made me feel any sort of attachment or feeling of home, but this cafe is doing a damn good job of trying.
We sit there talking for several minutes until the heavy wooden door swung open again. Anna looks up from her drink and smiles. “Hey Jamey, I’ll be right over. Where is Dottie tonight?”
I look over, a man with dark hair stands in the entrance wearing a suede vest and tight purple pants. “Visiting family in North Carolina, gross right?”
Anna laughs and finished her drink. “Did you want anything else babe?”
“No, I actually really need to get going. I don’t want to, I really want to stay here forever – but I’ve got to find my way to a bus stop so I can get home before too late.”
“Oh, a bus picks up at the end of this block. Where are you headed?”
“Just back to Atlanta – I’ve been there for about 4 months, so I’m getting really restless.”
“Well, I hope to maybe see you back here soon.”
Anna gracefully rises from her seat and carries our glasses back over to the counter.
I sit alone on the bus ride back, after briefly saying goodbye to Anna. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I know that I will be. And inside of me a strange feeling that I’ve never felt before. A feeling that tells me that maybe when I come back here I’ll never leave. And for the first time in my life I decide not to fear that feeling, but to embrace it.
I glance at the calendar that hangs on the wall. It’s the 4th, which means you’re out there somewhere celebrating your birthday without me. I’m glad you’ve moved on, and can remember how to be happy. I won’t ever do that.
I shut off the light in the living room and walk into the kitchen. The cat is asleep on the table again. Normally I’d be pissed but tonight I don’t mind, I just fill up his food bowl a little more than usual. I don’t fold the bag back over. Instead of filling the water bowl I just open the door to the guest bathroom, he prefers the toilet water always.
Slowly I walk up the stairs, observing each picture as I ascend. There are several of us being happy, and a few of us just pretending to be. There’s a picture of my sister, and a few of the cat. None of my parents.
I walk into my bedroom and turn the light on. It looks very nice, I’m glad I cleaned. I check my phone, no missed calls. I glance at the monitor of my computer and see there are no new emails. No surprises here. I shut down the computer and turn off the light, there is nothing else to do in here.
I walk into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I don’t lock it. From my pocket I remove a lighter and begin to light the candles throughout the small blue room. Eventually the entire room is illuminated by the gentle glow.
I wrap my hand around the handle and twist hard until the stubborn metal valve budges. Warm water starts to fill the porcelain claw-foot basin. I add a splash of bubble bath and let the tub fill, suds quickly racing to the top.
I remove my shirt and place it neatly into the laundry basket. I do the same with my skirt. I leave my underwear and bra on and step into the tub. Slowly I lower myself into the water, gradually acclimating to its heat.
I lay back and relax, until water is touching my shoulders and bubbles are tickling my nose. I shut off the faucet and push the bubbles away from my face. I deeply inhale the scent from the perfumed candles which has filled the room. It smells like a bowl of freshly sliced oranges, spiced with clove and cinnamon.
Clinching my razor tightly in my hand I extend my left arm and place the blade underneath the last crease of my palm. I take a deep breath and push down.
As I slowly start to slide the razor down my arm I feel my skin split. It hurts. Blood is following the razor on its slow path up my arm. Deep crimson blood, at first it bubbles but by now it’s starting to pour, saturating the bubbles as it drips off my skin.
I continue the razor’s trail upward at a steady slow pace. The voices in my head cease, and finally I am calm. And this doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I don’t think I’ll be able to do the other arm, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. It’s just the over achiever in me that wants to do both.
I’ve reached the bend of my arm, and I stop. I try and place the razor on the curved edge of the tub, but it quickly falls to the floor. The sound of the hard metal hitting the tile echoes throughout the bathroom.
I put my arms under the water, unable to see them because of bubbles. I don’t want to see the water turning red. I lay still, enjoying these last few moments of silence.
In the distance I hear my phone ring. I know it’s probably just a telemarketer, but I wonder if it’s you.