I missed my chance to post on the actual day for Raquel Byrnes's Primal Scream blogfest (so very sorry, Raquel!), but I'm making up for it today. I'm posting an excerpt from my short story, "Yellow Bus Tuesday". I hope it disturbs you. Bwah-hahahaha! There were 24 entries in this blogfest as of this morning, and I'm adding mine after this is posted. There are some amazing reads over there so you should definitely go check out the list. And if you're not familiar with Raquel, you should be! She's killer. Pun intended. ;)
So, without further ado, here's my entry in the Primal Scream Blogfest.
Yellow Bus Tuesday
Suddenly I am standing on the edge of the pool again, blood dripping down my arm. It’s not wet nylon against my skin; it’s ruffled taffeta. The material is tacky with drying blood. I’m not twelve; I’m eighteen. It’s not summer; it’s late spring. The smell of chlorine and cut grass fills my nose.
I look into the pool and see someone floating face down in the water. There are ribbons of blood snaking out from beneath him. His black suit jacket balloons up and down like a spent bladder. I hold out my hand to the body and see my palm is painted with blood.
“Nathan?” I ask the floating body.
But Nathan doesn’t respond, doesn’t turn over. I look down at myself; my dress is soaked in Nathan's blood.
I bite my lip, trying to remember. We had gone to a party… come back here… and Nathan… Nathan had wanted to kiss me… I think…
Nathan is standing in front of my father’s entertainment center, admiring the blank dead eye of the 38” television screen. “That’s some setup,” he says.
I am standing behind him and slightly to the left, my palms restless in the taffeta of my dress. It rustles softly in the quiet room, whispering like a ghost. “Yeah,” I say. It is all I can think to say – I’m nervous. My parents are gone and Nathan and I are here alone. The house has become a quiet, dozing beast. We are admiring a television set in one of the chambers of its heart. I close my eyes for an instant, willing the image away. When I open them again, Nathan has turned around and is looking at me with that crooked smile of his.
“You okay?” he asks.
“Good,” he says, and holds out his arms.
I walk into them and put my arms around his waist, closing my eyes and pressing my cheek against the smooth lapel of his rented tuxedo. He smells like cherries and musk. His boutonnière is a rose nestled into a spray of baby’s breath but it seems to have no scent at all.
He brings his left hand up slowly, skimming along the skin of my back. It’s an open-back dress. My mother argued against it but I held out and got my way. I shiver a little at his touch, liking the feel of his hands on me. His fingers tickle through the hairs on the nape of my neck.
“I like your hair better down,” he says.
I step back with a smile and pull my hair out of the bun it’s been twisted into. It falls in a long, clean wave over my shoulders. He smiles and steps closer, his eyes closing as he leans in to kiss me.
Then things get a little... weird.
I see Nathan, leaning forward in his black tux, his hair a little mussed, his eyes closed, that beautiful, terrible, little crooked grin on his lips. Then I blink and his face changes – the skin of his face is turning color, from a healthy peach to a deep, slaty gray; his body is rippling, moving underneath his clothes. His eyes blink open wide and then I realize they haven’t opened at all; his eyelids have simply disappeared and left nothing underneath but dull, flat, black discs that yawn at me like open, empty graves. His nose grows and flattens out and widens up until it becomes as angular and pointed as the prow of a ship. His jaw elongates and his mouth opens just a bit; that crooked grin is now filled with row upon row of vicious, hooked teeth. His fingers have melded together and his hands have turned into flat gray triangles of rough flesh.
He moves towards me and a gurgling hiss issues from his thick throat, rising and falling, undulating like a crooning song. I realize it’s a sound of desire. The triangles at the ends of his coat arms twitch in anticipation of running along the planes of my flesh. Those black round saucers in his face hold me still; I can feel their coldness working into my skin, into my blood, into my bones.
He has become the shark in my dreams, the giant fish that swims through my sleep three nights out of five and eats up all my good days in cold hungry bites. I can feel that hunger as he edges towards me, a thick line of spittle running out of his pointed mouth and over his white chin. His teeth click and grind together and he makes a low mewling sound in the back of his throat. The sound is clogged with spit and lust. My heart is beating hard and fast and I can feel my pulse in my throat, in my temples. I can hear it rushing in my ears. It sounds like the ocean.
I reach behind me, my hand trip-fall-running along the shelf of the entertainment center. I feel familiar shapes; picture frames, bric-a-brac. Then the cool, reassuring angles of one of my mother’s crystal Wessex candlesticks are under my fingertips.
I don’t think. I pick it up and swing. The heavy leaden crystal smashes into the flat triangle of Nathan's new nose.
The flat black plates of his eyes close as he falls, and I realize he has eyelids again.
This realization is driven home when his eyes open and he looks up at me from the living room floor. His eyes are filled with pain and bewilderment, but underneath those emotions is an expression I recognize.
The anger of denial. I’ve seen it before.
I know it is there.
I know it.
I can feel it.
I clutch the candlestick tighter in my hands and ready myself for what is to come.
“Baby?” he says, from the floor. He reaches a hand up towards me. I bare my teeth and wade in closer to him, churning my feet across the floor like a fisherwoman who has found herself landing a catch far too big for her frame. The candlestick has become my gaff, my club. It has become my net. It is my cross and my stake and my hammer. I raise it over my head and smile. Spit drips down over my lips and falls in three white drops onto Nathan’s shiny, sweaty forehead. A lock of his dark hair has fallen across his brow and it is matted and thick, clotted with his blood. His eyes are blank as he looks up at me.
“I will,” I say. My voice hisses like the wind on waves. I bring down the candlestick, hard like the woman knee deep in the water, knowing the fish will take her with it if it lives. I club the shark. I make it stop. I bring it home.
My face is warm and wet. I taste salt in my mouth, on my lips. I have forgotten if it is the taste of the ocean or the taste of blood in my mouth and on my tongue.
I am smiling.
Standing on the edge of the pool I am clutching the folds and ripples of my dress to my body, trying to remember how I got here. The body in the water floats serenely; turning in a lazy half-circle with the current of the pool jets. It almost looks like one of those floats people keep in their pools all summer long; an inflatable chaise lounge, upholstered in black.
The Wessex candlestick, my mother’s joy, is sparkling at the bottom of the pool. Its cut angles and crystal channels catch the pool light and turn it into a shimmering jewel in the deep water. It glimmers like a lost diamond; like a magical gem. The body floats above it, turning and turning in the current thrown off by the high-power pool jets.
I see his blood fanning out into the cool, clear pool water like rippling snakes.
His hands trail in the water, a pair of white, defenseless doves.
I breathe. I breathe. I hold onto my dress and breathe.
“Nathan!” I scream.
There is no answer but the gurgle and hush of the pool jets, hidden under the rippling crystal surface of the water.