Tonight, she’s sitting naked in a dry bath tub with a glass of wine in one hand that she’s using as an ash tray for the cigarette in her other hand. She’s naked, but not in a skinny, perfectly sculpted way you want to read about. Her skin is pale and imperfect with pink blemishes on her thighs and arms. Her breasts are supple, but they droop prematurely with the wear a child puts on a woman’s body. Below, her stomach is stretch marked and a little saggy from all the weight she’s been losing since she decided that food can’t possibly taste as good as skinny feels. Her hair is a little greasy, and she’s raked it in front of her face because she likes the way her tears soak into the dirty blonde strands. Her mind is taking her to dark places with copious assistance from the pot she smoked and the wine she imbibed because it’s New Years Eve and she’s alone in a bath tub getting plastered while the world outside of the bathroom pulses with sex and hope and new beginnings. She dunks her cigarette in the half empty glass and lets it slip out of her hand over the rim of the tub where it makes a delicate shattering sound on the linoleum. She sinks down the side of the tub, curling herself into a ball around the Sharpie pen and college ruled notebook that put her in this position in the first place. Inside the notebook she’s creating something that she hates but refuses to give up on. She’s created people and settings and conflict and love and hatred and plot and form and voice, and somewhere within those pages she’s seen something of herself she hates, and loves, and resents. Her work was a lover and then a mistress and then an enemy and then a torturer and now a wild, snarling beast that creeps into the dark corners of her mind and gives them power they haven’t had in years. The darkness becomes more complete as she slips away into unconsciousness, and for a while she’s at peace in a drug and al alcohol induced, blessedly dreamless sleep.
She stirs at the sound of broken glass scratching across the floor. A hand cradles the base of her neck, gently lifting her off of the bottom of the tub. Another hand props her knees up enough to cradle her thighs in the crook of an elbow, and she’s lifted up and into a warm embrace, her writing things still clutched in her hand. Her hair falls away from her face and she feels the brush of a short beard against her forehead, the press of lips that warm her heart. He carries her into the bedroom, lays her down, covers her up, and lays her writing things aside.
“Is it finished?”
“Yes. I hate it.”
“You always hate it. I think you hate the process more than the writing.”
“Same thing. Where’s Julian?”
“Still at his friend’s house. He asked me to call him and let him know you’re okay.”
“He knows me too well.”
“He’s lived 16 years with a writer for a mother, he knows you’re a wreck toward the end.”
“That’s the last one. I’m done. This is going to kill me.”
“Probably it will kill you, because this isn’t the last one. But at least you’ll die a brave man’s death.”
She smiles and presses her palm against his cheek, closes her eyes and recalls a similar moment a life time ago in a bed with this man, both of them younger and more stupid and reckless. A time when her life was crashing down around her, disintegrating in the tumult to make the space where they laid the foundation they built their lives on. And there it was again, the synchronicity that plagued her, haunted her, motivated her as one track on a randomized playlist faded out and gave way to their old song, You and I, and she felt as if she were in two moments at once, broken but on the mend with this perfect, wonderful man. She pulls him down to lay with her and wrapped in a feeling of security that only he provided, she curled herself up next to him and fell asleep.