There is an echo pulsing through her brain. A dull thudding ache reverberates in her skull as she wanders down the hall, gazing past doorways in search of something just out of reach.
The fridge door opening and closing, cabinet doors shutting.
She wants to rake her fingernails against the corners of her mind. Longing for something, just not sure what. To scratch and claw against the voice.
“What would make you happy?”
She walks into the bathroom, looking down at the marble counter, the clean tiles of the floor. The pristine shine she works so hard to maintain.
It’s not a conscious act, as she searches through the drawers. A body on autopilot, in search of a solution.
Liquid drips from the edges of the counter.
She feels pinpricks on her face. Like a thousand little papercuts slashing all at once. A tear falling from her eye.
“What would make you happy?”
It’s a question he kept asking. Not out of kindness, but a need to return to complacency.
She tried to explain it to him once. As they sat on their porch, with a drink in hand, and she could taste the smoke of his cigar on her tongue. The wind was blowing her hair and the stars seemed to ignite against the sky. The heat of the night sent a line of sweat down her back, but she did not wish to move inside.
She told him, “I swear, I’m happy.” He raised an eyebrow at her, but she kept studying her glass. “Or maybe not happy, but satisfied. Or, content.”
“What’s wrong with you?” He asked.
“There’s nothing wrong with me.” she said, “It feels like stasis. Neither high, nor low.” She sat, wondering, wondering how to describe it.
Like the scent of rain while the sun is shining. but the sprinkles still thud against her skin. Or waking up to the morning light of summer, when her lungs can’t breathe against the liquid air.
She looked down at the glass in her hand, thinking, the feeling between her should be last, and could be last drink. The fine line between not yet tipsy, and morning regrets.
But she said none of this. Instead, she set the glass down beside her, and continued to look into the night.
“What would make you happy?” He asked. But she just shook her head, and he sighed, and stood up to go back inside.
She can hear the ‘plink’ sound of droplets falling on the floor.
And she stares into a mirror that has no reflection.
She’d wondered, for a time, if it would be panic, or anxiety, that would make acid burn her throat again.
She’d considered, if it was worth pulling onto her tether, to try and advance a little more, to pull herself up rather than let herself fall.
Is that the sound of the front door, or is that a part of the echo in her mind? Him shutting himself away from her for the last time.
Nails are digging, poking into flesh. A mask of punctures, slices, tears. A razor and scissors letting blood stain white porcelain. And it drips from her hands down her face, oozing scarlet rivers down her chest. .
She carves without seeing, her face in the mirror as the shower curtain behind her. And she works until her bare feet are stained and she can no longer stand.
What would make you happy?
Eyes still open, as she lies in the pool on the floor. Unable to move her limbs. Unable to do anything, but twitch her ruined lips into the curl of a smile.