Deep Water

Deep breaths. You can do this, there is nothing to be scared of.

She stood in front of the shower-bathtub combo, stone still. Water poured out of the shower head in an awkward stream, a few holes partially blocked by the collected gunk characteristic of hard well-water. Steam had been building in the bathtub for the past ten minutes and was coating the mirror above the sink, highlighting a few streaks of errant toothpaste flecks and grime. Even the walls were beginning to collect condensation, the wetness saturating through the cheap paint and separating it from the wall in shallow bubbles.

The same pep talk ran through her head every night: Everything is okay. Nothing is going to happen. It’s just a shower. You do this every night.

The woman peered over the edge of the tub, ducking her head to avoid the stream of shower water. She stared down onto the textured linoleum floor and examined the mild discoloration ribboned between what she affectionately called floor nubs. There it was, a shower floor and nothing special. But what if?

The floor dissolved away and revealed blue water that darkened the deeper down it went, until there was nothing but an inky blackness. Shadows moved through the water with silky sinusoidal movements, at ease in their natural environment. Monsters lived in that inky blackness, relishing the darkness of underwater caves and trenches. The darkness masked krakens feeding off unfortunate lost little minnows, desperately seeking light in bobbing appendaged traps.

Below, something noticed her looking. The monster rapidly changed course, veering upward at nearly a ninety-degree angle. A freak show of teeth, scales, eyes, skin, and fins rocketed up through the water, so fast that air bubbles streamed down its sides, filtered through protruding fangs. Up, up, up, so close that she could see down into its razored gullet.

The cruddy overhead lamp flickered above her head and she startled backwards with a yelp, catching her hip painfully on the sink’s corner. She blinked, and the tub’s floor reappeared.

Clenching her fists, she chided herself again. This was ridiculous. Re-approaching the tub, she took a deep breath.

She gingerly placed her left foot on the textured linoleum floor of the tub. Slowly she placed weight on it, until she was evenly distributed over the lip. Nothing happened, but she still waited a few tense moments, watching the water cascade down her leg.

Breathing a sigh of relief, she chided herself for her silliness. Obviously nothing was going to happen, it was just another Tuesday night shower, like the hundreds she had taken over the course of her life.

She leaned on the shower wall with one hand as she brought her left foot into the tub and settled her weight onto it. Looking up towards the shower head, she relished the feeling of water pouring through her hair.

Then, she fell down, down, down through the deep dark water, staring upward as the light from the cruddy overhead lamp flickered away.

 

Posted 10 September 2018

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