Title: The Water is Cold
Summary: vignette piece for Sara (Post-Nesting Dolls). Deals with traumatic memories. Warning for blood and unpleasant imagery.
"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you."
The water is cold. It went cold so long ago.
I was doing dishes when I sliced my wrist on a broken cup. Red plumed into the basin until I was starring at a stainless steel tub swaddling an overflow of pink. It's transfixing…all that pink…and all that red, and the way the red makes rivulets down my white skin and empties into the water like fluid gushing into a brook.
Suddenly, I have an intoxicating sense of déjà vu.
I've seen this scene before.
And like a bolt of lightening, I know, intellectually…I know where I have seen this. Of course, like the clap of thunder that follows lightening…I see it again. I see it in my mind, and powerfully so.
I can smell the metallic heat, and the overpowering perfume and I can see the white, oval table and feel the oppressive firmness of my undersized dungarees and second hand top. I envision my jelly sandals and the scratchiness of mouse brown braids against my cheek.
And my mother swims in front of me, and I remember.
My mother cleaned off the blood.
So much blood.
Red marking her pallid skin, her lean arms, and dripping on the linoleum in little boils. Little dribbles of rainy blood sprinkling the ground.
After she killed my father.
The dishes had been covered in dried mac-n-cheese and Brody's egg salad sandwich.
And she had taken the knife out of my Dad, out of his chest, while I cowered behind the sofa. She wiped her hands on her gingham print smock and walked into the kitchenette, took the scrubber out of the porcelain frog and washed her butcher knife in the sink. We only had one, and she refilled and emptied it over and over again.
I remember feeling dizzy and feeling my face tingle and wanting to close my eyes, but she called out to me – Sara, Sara! – until I came…calling to me and her face was flecked with brown markings. It had dried on her skin then. The liquid was still red on her blouse.
That was taking longer to dry.
And trance-like I came, like an obedient puppy. To help my mom with the remaining kitchen dishes.
She was so white, her hands were shaking, and her fingers still were bloody when she took off the rubber gloves.
Stripping the gloves like a layer of skin from her hands...red and muscled and skinny and tendons poking through, playing mind games with me. Pools of blood poured out of the gloves.
But it wasn't her blood and she turned and told me that she wasn't bleeding. That she was okay. She smiled at me, brokenly.
Then the police broke down the door.
Everything happened quickly after that point. The officers entered in a wave, and one puked almost immediately. Only a few steps inside the living room. Dad had made his way out of the bedroom, on his belly, and had stopped and had come to rest in the middle of the hallway leaving a maroon trail behind him. A snail and its slime. Red slime, oozing from his underside.
The young cop almost bumped Dad's head with his boot and recoiled, falling back into the officer directly behind him.
Then he started retching.
I can't remember if I made any noise, but I remember that I ran out of the kitchenette and to my room and crawled into my closet, pulling my childhood Ernie sleeping bag up to my neck. Closing my eyes so hard that white flashes danced in the darkness.
They had a social worker come and get me later.
When I walked by the hall again, all the red was still there, but Dad was gone, and so was Mom.
I started crying then…asking for my mother. Where is my mom? Where's mom? Mom, I cried. Mommy, I screamed. I want my mommy!
No one got my mom for me.
"Sara…you're bleeding!" comes the gravelly rumble of his voice.
He is alarmed.
I feel unreal. I feel dizzy. I didn't cut myself that deeply, but I still feel unsteady.
"It needs fresh water."
I point to the sink, and I see his eyes widen. Blue orbs become full.
"The water went cold a long time ago."
My voice sounds strange. Distant. Far away. Coming from another time, another place, from the throat of another person. A little person. An innocent person.