Breathing was difficult due to the fact that his face was pressed firmly into the side of the bathtub, while scalding hot water rushed through his lips and into his nose before trickling into the drain underneath his right ear. He was dizzy and felt paralyzed as his legs lay lifeless and crumpled underneath his body. He slowly moved his head to one side, because the flowing water coming down from the shower head high above was overwhelming his every attempted breath. His eyes clenched tight as he began to try and determine his whereabouts. That’s the moment when he felt the sharp stinging in both of his wrists. He carefully reached up to turn off the water using the old soap-stained faucet above his head. He realized that he had passed out after laying carefully down into the small white tub. Now he found himself fighting to open his eyes. The tub around him was stained red with blood, as was his chest. There on his back, with small drops of water taunting his eyes, he held his left hand up in the air. It hurt horribly. He examined the damage done. About an inch below the wrist were several small blackened marks with a circumference of red circles surrounding each scratch. Blood was still seeping out because of the water around him, but the coagulation had mostly closed the wounds. He laughed as he let the water and bloody mess drip onto his chest from his shaking arm before it dropped back down to his side. His arm felt too heavy to hold up. He once again closed his eyes. His face felt warm and tingling. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the loss of blood or from those pills he took before he had climbed into the shower. He smiled and was giddy from being lightheaded and the flushed feeling in his cheeks and he tried to go back to the warmth of the sleep he had just awoken from. His mind wandered to that evening a couple of weeks earlier when he had put a small cut in his throat in the shower. He watched his reflection bleed in the tiny circular shower mirror suctioned to the linoleum and found solace in the taste of his own blood. It was a small cut that only bled momentarily, but he enjoyed the sensation.
“I think this it!” Cindy shouted as she veered the car in the darkness toward a small apartment complex.
This snapped her out of her thoughts and intensified the pit that had been slowly growing in her gut since the moment this idea was forced upon her. Sometimes she hated it when her friends pushed her into action, instead of letting her be all talk and safe in her little womb. He would probably think she was a crazy stalker for dropping by unannounced like this.
“What was the number?” Cindy asked over her shoulder as she swung into an empty parking spot and slammed onto the brakes. The car whined and clanked when the front end scraped over the top of the small yellow cement block that protected the walkway.
She mumbled the apartment number to Cindy and announced that they really didn’t need to go through with this silly plan.
“Nonsense,” Rebecca responded with disgust. “We’ve come this far, you’re not backing out now”
The four of them sprinted through the heavy rainfall as they scanned the area for the correct place. Before she knew it, they were climbing three flights of stairs and Cindy was knocking on the door. All of them began giggling nervously and were shaking from the chill in the air.
“I can’t believe we’re really doing this!” Cindy blurted, suddenly losing her ambition.
There was no answer after 30 seconds or so. She took a deep breath to try and stave off some intense shivers that had her entire body rippling.
“I hear something in there, and it looks like a light is on in that window,” Mary smiled and pointed to their left. “Knock again!”
Cindy pounded on the door harder and several times.
The silence overwhelmed her, as they all held their collective breaths and listened closely for any sound from the other side of the door. A fog gathered above them in the stairwell as they all stood facing each other with curious looks on their faces. Time stood still. Finally, she croaked out that no one was going to answer and felt relief spread through her shoulders and down her back.
“Leave him a note,” Mary commanded.
“Yeah, let’s all leave him a note,” Cindy agreed. “I have some paper in my purse.”
All of them scrawled out quick silly notes in their bubbly scrawl, while she paused and watched them as all of the clumsy butterflies returned. What should she write? He would now know what they did. Whatever the case, she drew strength from the camaraderie of her friends and contemplated some words that she thought he might think were funny. She didn’t want to scare him away, because she had some genuine hopes for this guy, despite her terror at the thought of actually meeting him just moments prior. Again, she asked herself why she didn’t stay home instead of telling her friends about him. Then she wouldn’t be here now. What could she say on a piece of scrap paper that would convey her feelings to him in a way that he would completely understand where she was coming from? She shivered again and realized that she didn’t know what she wanted. Cindy gathered all of their messages and stuffed them into the jam a foot or so above the doorknob.
“Yo! Sup?” Jim shouted as he banged the door open and tripped over the decayed floor mat just inside. “Looks like you got some love letters out here.”
Jim’s ruckus at the front door startled him from a deep slumber. He was wrapped tightly under a blanket and curled in the fetal position on the couch with the TV showing the closing credits of the old B-movie Monster A Go-Go! which he had tuned to during the opening credits - at least his third unsuccessful attempt at watching this movie. He had been dreaming of warmth and sunshine. The kind of sunlight that he only had ever imagined could exist – a kind of warmth and glow that could burn away the darkness that was always enveloping him. In his dream, long shadows from several giant shade trees stretched across a bright green grass field as he strolled comfortably through the shadow lattice toward a bright blue ocean in place of the freezing grey water he grew up next to. He was groggy, but made an effort to lift himself up over the back of the old couch to see Jim and figure out what he was talking about. He could feel dried blood pulling at the skin and hair on his chest underneath his loose fitting concert T-shirt and squinted as Jim had turned all the lights on that he had turned off after his shower earlier.
Jim dropped a few softened sheets of torn scrap paper on top of him as he passed by on his way to his bedroom. He could see that the handwriting varied, yet all contained the recognizably bubbly handwriting of nearly all girls born after 1970.
“Shouldn’t you be out? It’s Friday night. I’m thinking of going to grab some brews with some dudes from work, you wanna join?” Jim asked as he ducked into his room.
He collected the notes together as he responded to Jim with uncertainty, but knowing Jim would not take no for an answer.