Blood in the Sink

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A married couple deal with the husbands severe anxiety due to a troubled past.

Submitted: December 30, 2011

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Submitted: December 30, 2011

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There’s blood in the sink.  She follows the trail from the sink, to the counter, up the freshly pressed white linen dress shirt, and to his upper lip.  The cut drips like the faucet.  Split, splat, split, splat.  The razor is ruined; she tosses it in the trash.  “Hold this to your lip baby,” she says, placing a cool damp washcloth to his lip.  He raises his hand and presses it where she shows him.

“You startled me,” he says, staring into the mirror.

“I know baby.  I’m sorry.  I’m going to get you a new shirt ok?  I’ll be right back.”  He nods.  When she returns she hangs another white shirt behind him on the towel rack next to the shower.  She lifts his hand, and it’s still bleeding.  “I need you to press harder hon.  Or it’s not going to stop.”  He does.  

She gets a fresh razor out of the medicine cabinet and wets it in the sink.  She finishes shaving his right cheek where they’d stopped after he cut it.  She’s careful, and he’s still without having to be told.  “There.  Better?” she asks.  He doesn’t respond.  She rinses the razor in the sink and puts it away in the cabinet after drying it.  “Has it stopped?”  He takes the cloth off.  “Doesn’t look like it.”

“Lip balm,” he says.

“Lip balm?”

“Yeah, it’ll help seal the cut.  What my dad used to do.”  She searches the medicine cabinet.  It’s tucked away on the third shelf behind some expired aspirin.  She takes the cap off, it’s almost empty, barely enough for a finger tip.  

“Just put it over it?” she asks him.

“Yeah,” he says.  She takes what little’s in the container and smears it over the cut after dabbing it with the washcloth one more time.  Blood mixes with it a little, but it begins to work.

“Are you sure you’re ok to work today?” she asks him, unbuttoning his bloodied shirt.

“I have to.  There’s a big meeting scheduled.”

“Someone could fill you in,” she says, tossing the shirt on the floor.

“No, they’ve had to do that too much lately,” he says, tightening the faucet in front of him to stop the dripping.  She takes the clean shirt from the rack and places it on his back.  He tenses.  His shoulders rise and hold near his neck as he holds his breath.

“Babe, it’s just me,” she tells him.

“I know,” he says, letting his shoulders drop down as he exhales.  She rubs his shoulders before helping him put on the clean shirt.  He buttons it this time.  

“When you get back you should let me give you a massage.  I haven’t gave you one in awhile.”  

“That’d be nice,” he says.  He looks into the mirror as a brown and black striped tie loops around his neck.  He tenses, but just enough for it to be noticeable.  He watches as her hands carefully tie the knot and pulls it tight to his neck.  He swallows, and puts one finger between his collar and his neck, tugging.  “Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me.  It’s what I’m here for.  Breakfast?”

“Yeah, I guess I should eat before I go.”   As he adjusts the tie, she takes the washcloth and wets it, wiping the blood from the sink and the counter while the water still runs.  She rings it out afterwards and throws it in the trash. 

“I’ll have to buy you a new shirt if the stain doesn’t come out,” she says, mostly to herself.  She finishes putting away the other items like the can of shaving cream and his deodorant stick.  “Coming?” she asks, leaving the bathroom.

“Yeah.”  They exit the bathroom, and she leaves the bedroom.  He pauses for a second; the bed isn’t made, and there’s a growing pile of clothes near the dresser against the wall.  On the dresser there’s a few pictures of the wedding, the honeymoon, and his daughter.  It’s her birthday soon, he realizes, before following behind.

“Where’s Jaime at again?” he asks her downstairs in the kitchen.  She turns to look at him while digging through the fridge.

“My parents, remember?  She’s staying there for a little while.”

“Oh,” he says.  “It’s her birthday next week.”

“You’re right.”

“Seven.  She’ll be seven,” he says.  His wife closes the fridge and puts the milk and some grape jelly on the counter.  They’re both almost empty just like the lip balm.

“That’s right.”

“I need to get her a gift.  We should probably go to the store soon,” he says.

“Ok.  We need to restock the fridge anyway.”

“And lip balm, we’re almost out of it.”  She nods.  She opens up a bag of bread and puts two slices in the toaster, pressing the button down.  The dial’s set to burn, the way she likes it, so she turns it down a notch for him.  “Is Jaime coming home for it?”

“I hope so.  Or we’ll go over there.  Either way you’ll see her.”

“That’ll be good,” he says.  She turns to look at him, he’s pacing.  Back and forth between the hall to the living room and the kitchen.  He circles around the table in the middle, his hand tracing the edge of the circular wooden table.  He stops sometimes, picking at a rough spot of crust hardened from last night’s dinner.  

“Baby, take a seat.  You’re pacing again, and it’s making me nervous,” she tells him.  He stops, pulls out a chair, and sits.

“Sorry, I can’t help it.”

“I know.”  The toaster pops, the bread on the edge of burnt.  She spreads them with jelly and serves it on a napkin with a bowl of Cherrio’s and a glass of orange juice.  She watches as he takes a bite of toast with a sip of juice before she puts her own toast in the toaster, and then takes a seat across from him.  “You should eat,” he says.

“Mine’s in the toaster.  You know I can’t stand cereal.”  He nods.  She sighs as she gets up to pour herself a glass of orange juice.  She takes a sip, grinding her front teeth in the process.  She doesn’t like pulp, but it’s the only kind he drinks.  “My mother offered to send us to Hawaii as our Christmas gift this year.  The same spot as our honeymoon,” she tells him.

He takes a spoonful of Cherrio’s into his mouth and chews, answering with his mouth still full.  “That’d be nice.”

“I told her I wasn’t sure.  You know, with the flight ‘n all, if you could make it.  Do you think you’ll be able to fly that far by January or so?” she asks him–hopeful.  He takes another drink of juice, pursing his lips as he swallows–the milk’s made it extra sour.  

“You didn’t have to buy pulp,” he says, “I know you don’t like it.”

“It’s no big deal, I’m not a big juice drinker anyway,” she replies.  He takes another bite of cereal and then pushes the bowl aside.  “Do you think you’ll be able to?”

“What?”

“Fly?”

He stares down toward the toast, purses his lips, and rubs his hands on his khakis.  “I think so.”  

She smiles.  “I hope so,” she says.  “Are you sure you’ll be able to work today?  No doubts, no worries?”

“I think I’ll be fine,” he says, getting up and crumbling the napkin with the toast still on it.  

“I’ll get it,” she says, scrambling towards him to take the bowl and napkin.  

“You didn’t eat yours.”

“I’ll eat it when you leave, don’t worry about it.”  She tosses the napkin in the trash, and pours the bowl out into the disposal.  He walks out into the living room and she follows.  He picks his keys off the coffee table.  “Jacket.  You’ll need a jacket.”  She grabs one out of the closet; it’s long, black, and warm.  He lets her wrap him in it, flinching slightly.  “Do you have your wallet?  Your keys?”

She watches him go through his mental check list.  Saying to himself “wallet, phone, keys,” as he checks each of his pockets.  He nods to her and picks up his laptop bag.  She wraps herself in a knit blanket from the couch and slips on her slippers to follow him out.  “Shoes,” he says suddenly.  “I forgot to put them on.”  They both grin as he slips on the black dress shoes by the door. 

“You sure you’ve got everything now?”  

“Yeah.”  They exit the door and she walks him to the car.  He opens the door and throws his brief case onto the other seat.  He wraps her in a hug; it’s not a good one, he barely squeezes as if it’s physically challenging.  “Thank you,” he says.

“Don’t thank me.  Are you sure you’re ok to go?  It’s still no big deal if you don’t.”

“I have to.”  She nods and kisses him on the cheek.  He takes a seat and puts the key in the ignition to start it.  “I’ll let it warm up for awhile before going,” he says.

“Good idea.  And seatbelt. Don’t forget that.”  Relief crosses her face when he buckles it in front of her.  “Alright hon, I’m going back in; it’s freezing out here.”  She kisses him again, this time a peck on the lips before heading inside as he closes his door.

She watches him from the window.  His hands are on the steering wheel, his eyes are watching the ice melt on the windshield.  The phone rings.  She answers.  “Hello?” she asks it.

“Lindsay, it’s your mother.”

“Oh, hey mom,” she says, taking a seat on the couch against the window.  

“How is he?  Is he going today?”

“Yes, it looks like it, he’s warming up the car right now.”

“That’s great!  Is he nervous?  Is he ok?” her mother asks frantically.

“I think so, but I’m not really sure.  You can’t always tell with him.  He was pacing and his palms are all sweaty, but you know, he’s always doing that.  So who knows?  I think he’ll be ok though.”  Lindsay picks up a pillow and places it in her lap.  “Is Jaime up?”

“No, she’s still asleep.  Your father let her stay up and watch a movie with him last night until one in the morning.  I told him not to, but you know him; he’s never listened to me.”

“It’s no big deal.  He spoils her rotten.  You both do really.  Listen, I was thinking you all could bring her up next week for her birthday.  He’s been asking about her.”

“He has?  Absolutely then!  She wants to see you both.  I know it’s only been a few weeks, but she needs her parents as much as I love having her.”  

“I know mom.  Just give us a little bit to get readjusted.”  Moments pass before anything else is said.  Lindsay shifts in her seat, readjusting the phone on her ear.

“Did you ask him by the way?” her mother asks.

“About?”

“Hawaii.  We need to buy the tickets.”

“He thinks so.  He avoided at first, but he said he hopes he’ll be able to.  You should pay the extra fee where we can reschedule if need be.  I can pay that if you want.”

“No, it’ll be fine.  We’ll take care of it.”

“Alright mom I’m going to get off here.  I’ve got some errands to run.  We’re out of almost everything.”

“Ok, hon.  I’m just excited, you know, since it happened he just hasn’t shown any signs like this before.”

“I know, I know.  Let’s just wait and see ok?  And have Jaime call her mommy when she gets up ok?  I want to hear her.”

“I will sweetie.  Be careful, love you.”

“You too.”  She hangs up the phone.  She picks up the remote, turns on the T.V., and flicks through the guide; there’s nothing on.  She decides to quit procrastinating and get dressed.  As she gets up she sees him out the window, sitting in the car, hands on the wheel, staring at the defrosted windshield.  She pulls the blanket around her, slips on the house shoes, and walks outside.  She enters the car on the passenger side and sits down, grabbing his right hand from the steering wheel and holding it by the cup holder–the same way they do whenever he drives.

“I still think about him a lot,” he says, a tear falling down his right cheek.

“I know baby.”

“I’m so much worse since he did it.  I used to be able to hide it.  Why can’t I hide it?” he asks her.  She squeezes his hand as her eyes begin to water as well.  “Maybe you should just get it over with.  Just put me somewhere.  The white padded wall treatment.”

“I’m not putting you anywhere James,” she says loudly.  “If you’d just see a doctor and take some medicine I know it would hel–”

“I’m not taking anything.  You saw my mother, what they did to her.  And now they’ve done the same fucking thing to him.  My brother, the last person I’d expect.  He was so much stronger than me Linz.”

  “You’re strong,” she tells him, holding onto his arm with both hands.

“I’m weak.  I can’t even sit or walk without shaking.  I flinch half the time you touch me.  How is that strong?  I don’t even want to know what you think of me.  And Jaime, God, I barely even remember her sometimes.  I miss her, but she can’t see me like this babe.  I can’t have her see me like this,” he cries.

“We love you, that’s what we think about you.”

“And your parents, who knows what they think.  Dysfunctional, yes, that’s the word.  They probably think me and my entire family are just a bunch of dysfunctional addicts.”

“Even if they did, who cares?” she asks him.

“You do.  You have to.  They’re your parents,” he says, turning his head towards her and finally letting his left hand fall off the steering wheel.  

“And you and Jaime are my life, so which is more important to me James.  Come on, tell me!”  He doesn’t tell her.  He takes his hand from hers and puts both of them to his face.  His brother flashes through his head, his mother does as well, and the doctor’s offices he lived with her at as a child.  One, two, three, breaths he takes before he let’s go.  

“You’re lips bleeding again,” she says.  He touches it and blood stains his hand.  Droplets fall to another white shirt.

Minutes pass, he calms.  “Maybe I shouldn’t go in today,” he says as she hands him a napkin from the glovebox. 

“Ok.”  She turns the key in the ignition and pockets it, turning the car off for him.  They both step out of the car and close the door.  He follows behind her, holding the napkin to his lip as she opens the door.  He slips his shoes off, and she does the same with hers.  He throws his jacket on a chair near the door and takes a seat on the couch eventually laying down.  

He hears her go into the kitchen.  She’s crying, sitting down on the floor, trying to eat a piece of dry toast.  His stomach knots, but he stays lying there.  Another minute or two passes until he says “Lindsay” loud enough for her to hear.  She comes back in the room, still clutching the blanket.  She hands him a bandaid and he unwraps and puts it on his lip like a mustache.  She sits down on the couch against his stomach and slowly lies down with him as he wraps his arms around her.

“It’ll take some time,” he says.

“I know.”

“I’m sorry, you don’t–”

“Don’t apologize James.  Just stop.  I’m not quitting so just please stop.”

“Ok.”

“Let’s just pretend that it’s Sunday.  Jaime’s four, upstairs taking a nap after church, and we’re lying down to do the same.  Just us, nothing else.”  He grips tighter, she adjusts against him.

“That’d be nice,” he says.

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 K Auble. All rights reserved.

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