Here is a short story I have been working on. I keep ending up rewriting everything past this point and haven't really touched this in a while. Thought I might share.
Fear. It’s a driving force sure enough, an emotion but what exactly is this thing called fear? It has often been said that death is the second fear of most people. This I will never believe. When awoken in a cold sweat, it is the icy relentless pursuit by the faceless apparition that wields the sharpened metal every time. The uncaring, unwavering reminder of the frailty of life, the frailty of the human condition, is what bears down upon you until you stumble and eventually succumb, crumbling under the weight of its truth. Death yields to no one and in its path even the mightiest are found wanting. Fear is a whisper, a gripping reminder, a prickly nudge to remove any doubt as to where we stand. We are ashes looking to avoid being scattered by the pressing wind and there is nothing we can do to change it.
Sunlight always finds a way in. A crack barely big enough for wind to exploit but the sun casts its rays through the crevice and onto the bed, creeping their way across the sheets and onto his face. Yet another Saturday’s sleeping in opportunity ruined. “Oh no, I’ve over slept!” had become his calling card over the past few years. But he knew they would call. They always called on a Saturday morning to make sure that he was awake. The day would simply go better if he would be able to tell them he was almost there when he answered the phone. His feet hit the carpet before his eyes had opened.
“Another day of being you.” His disgust was unmasked and the utter contempt poured from his eyes as he splashed water on his face. The water was careening from the faucet and slamming into the pooling water below. He took his time, carefully inspecting as he went, to make sure that every speck of black was shaved from his face. He pulled the dark green polo over his head and tucked it into the khaki pants. He resented the outfit all the more when he slowly slid the pin through the shirt that bore the name tag displaying proudly “My name is CALVIN. Is there something I can help you find?” His keys slipped quickly into his pocket and cell phone clipped onto his belt. His right hand slide across his back pocket to let him know his wallet was where it should be.
The faucet for the tub began to spew as Calvin turned the knob and plugged the drain. He returned to the sink, beside which sat his class ring, polished to a shine and a black marker. The marker’s smell permeated Calvin’s nostrils as he clipped the cap onto the back of the marker and began to write on the mirror. He hesitated, hearing a voice that sounded like his conscience, reminding him of all he had to live for. The words seemed so trite and each word stung him with bitterness. Annoyed, Calvin slammed his hand back onto the mirror and a line struck through the words he had written thus far.
“You’ve managed to deface your own defacing.” His scolding words quietly admonished his own efforts. His brow tightened and eyes darkened. He was determined to finish this, no matter what.
When the marker finally dropped from his hand, he stumbled back to observe his work. He needed to make sure that it said everything he wanted and needed it to. In satisfaction for his work he perched himself on the edge of the tub to tighten his shoe laces. The cranking of the handle brought the water in the tub to an eerie stillness. The quite was disheartening. Calvin’s arm reached for the CD player that hung from the shower faucet. The soft and mournful tones of Moonlight Sonata feel gently upon the scene. If he didn’t get out on the road soon he wouldn’t be able to say he was almost there when they called.
As he pushed up on his knees a long sighed slipped from his lips. He took one more look into the mirror and for a second he though he saw something in the mirror. It looked like him only he was happy. The anger from his face had faded and the light from his eyes was engulfing. But as suddenly as the image appeared it faded and the reminder of his own shortcomings even in comparison to this visioned reflection drove to his core. He spun about and stepped into the filled tub.
His strength or perhaps it was his will that left him and his body dropped as though life had flown from it into the water below. As he fell his elbow bounced the edge of the tub and the shooting pain almost brought Calvin out of the water again. He wanted to cry out but more than that he wanted to be brave, whatever that meant. With his knees protruding from the water and a sizeable pool already on the floor, he sat with the rest of his body submerged in the water waiting, but he did not know what for.
Clink, Clink, Clink, Clunk, Clank. Calvin recognized the change falling from his pocket. Eighty – something if he remembered right. Next a very subdued jingle followed by a clank-clank thud. The keys had slid from his pocket and onto the bottom of the tub. Next his cell phone’s archaic clip failed and it struck the bottom of the tub with a thump. Thankfully the thing was about the oldest phone still in use anywhere. Its death was more merciful than anything else. Bump. The loud noise startled Calvin a bit. He wasn’t quite sure what it was.
His hand scrounged around the bottom of the tub beside him and eventually came to rest on a tube-ish shaped object about 3 inches long. He instantly remembered what it was. He was never able to explain, even to himself, why he bought the thing or why he never left the apartment without it. In fact he barely ever used it. Seemed like such a waste for someone like him to have. Perhaps he bought it because a man feels more powerful, more like a real man when he has got a knife on him. Maybe he just got it because the sale was pretty much one that he couldn’t pass up. At the very least he wasn’t able too. But still, maybe, just maybe he bought it because all along he knew this day would come and he would need it then.
The burning in his lungs started as his head came bursting out from underneath the once again calmed surface, sending another wave over the tub’s side and onto the floor. A short burst of gasps provided the necessary air to relieve the burning in his lungs. Despite the overwhelming belief that he had been under for quite some time, the lingering notes of Moonlight Sonata let Calvin know that he had only retreated for a few brief moments.
He sat in silence pondering what next to do. To retreat from this precipice seemed impossible but to go forward was… well, forward. His hand emerged from the water and opened to reveal the knife still held by the fingers. One finger swung the blade from the housing. It was one of those flip out knifes that were sold at outdoor sports places. In fact it was on the way home from work one day that a sign claiming year end sale on such a store that had brought him and the blade together. He gently laid the knife on the side of the tub, content to inspect it from a distance.
The blade, after 3 years of wear and tear under his command, was in the same condition it had been the day he bought it. It had been designed for survival in the wild. It had ended up with him, resigned to the occasional run in with packing tap and the even more rare battle with duct tape. Small droplets of water began to bead and work their way off the knife. Man, he had gotten such a great deal on that thing. The craftsmanship was impeccable
In the silence, while Calvin visually inspected his knife the voice returned. The arguments and reasoning it posed didn’t bother Calvin this time. In fact it made a great deal of sense but there was a nagging shame in the pit of Calvin’s stomach that would not afford him the retreat. He drew the knife up in his hand and placed it on the inside of his arm just below the elbow.
The knife slid down his arm to his wrist with little effort. It seemed the knife was eager to be about cutting something other than tape and leapt from on hand to the other. A similar cut was made on the other arm but two smaller cuts were made to accent the larger near the wrist. Again the knife leapt and copied the cuts from one arm to another. Calvin didn’t want to be found with no symmetrical cuts.
Already the blood had enveloped his arms and was lunging into the tub, yet he was not in much pain. After the initial cut his endorphins had kicked in and left him in a state of near-euphoria. The blade slid back into the waters as Calvin’s strength quickly faded. The edge of his field of vision seemed to be framed in an ever-growing darkness.
These effects had descended on Calvin quicker than he had assumed they would, the darkness, the weakening laying hold of him with speed and precision. Perhaps the cuts had driven deeper than his convictions had in his mind. Yet there was little that could be done now. From his wrists the red tide ran quickly but even now time had lost its fervor to him. Were it not for the flecks of red that dashed from the veil, Calvin would have thought the blood was moving at a pace for molasses. Calvin had told himself that the process would likely take hours and now, less then a minute into it, he was already to the point of fading.
The black outer frame was surging across his sight, devouring the room around him. His gaze, weak and dark, landing on the door handle across the room. It wasn’t proximity or any interest in the item itself that drew his gaze but rather the light that was relecting off of the handle made it the brightest thing he could see. The handle wasn’t ornate by any means, just a simple golden globe with an inset ring for contrast. Yet in this fleeting moment, the last he would endure on this plane, it had become Calvin’s whole world.
The steadfast gleam momentarily flickered and Calvin sighed, preparing for the last of anything and everything in this life. Little thought could he afford to what lie ahead this late. Rather he sat waiting for the darkness to consume him. Yet he continue on here for a brief moment seeing the gleaming handle move to the side as the door began to open. Golden gleams faded to fields of dulled orange. “At last the end.” Fell from his lips.
The first movement of the sonata was coming to its close and Calvin felt honored that it had timed its demise with his own, a final right thing to escort his soul from this world. The tones faded in strength as the darkness grew. Something, just above a whisper, crept into his ear and into his conscious. “Dad?” Then darkness.