Stains (Flash Fiction)

A red drip fell on the white porcelain. Susanne pressed down harder, and the thin tip of the razor slipped in, deeper than intended. She gasped and snapped her hand back. The slow red drips became a steady stream. She dropped the blade and it swirled around the sink, wedging itself in the drain hole. She turned on the faucet, cold water, and squeezed her wrist. Red fluid seeped out from between her fingers. She squeezed tighter.

She looked in the mirror, and for the first time in many months she felt alive again. Fear throbbed from the exit in her vein. There was a sudden need to sustain life. She no longer cared about her disheveled hair. She saw the cheek bones of her obvious anorexia with painful clarity and the dark circles that hung under her eyes. Her heart raced. She could feel it pumping viciously, as if trying to drive her out of her own body. Blood rolled the length of her arm and fell from her elbow. She knelt down and lifted her wrist high. Small spots of white twinkled in and out of sight.

There was a knock at the bathroom door and Susanne yelped. “I’m leaving,” her mother said. There was a long pause. “Are you alright in there?”

Susanne watched the whirlpool of water and blood spin away in front of her. The torrent of red that added to the mixture showed no sign of slowing. She glanced in the mirror and saw her eyes, now wide with panic. The color from her cheeks was fading fast. “I’m fine,” she said. “I’m brushing my teeth.” She looked back at the door, to the gap underneath. The shadow of her mother loomed there. She saw her step away slightly and then back to the door again. The door was unlocked. Susanne held her breath.

“Would you like me to make you something to eat?” her mother asked.

Susanne’s face twisted into a silent weep. Her bottom lip quivered uncontrollably. She wanted to cry out, to scream, to unsay years of hurtful things. Her hand was beginning to tingle. Her head was feeling light. But an unknown force deep from within closed around her throat, and she made no sound. I’ve been so wrong for so long that it can’t be undone, she thought. She watched the shadow of her mother disappear down the hall.

Susanne propped herself against the sink with both elbows in the basin. The white tile floor stuck needles of pain into her boney knees. And the blood from her skinny wrist just flowed and flowed and flowed…

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