Broad-Shouldered Beasts– Alexis

It was her that’s making my life miserable. It was also her that’s making my life worth living. It’s funny how someone you love so much can Also be the person you currently can’t stand. I check my watch for the umpteenth time, watching that minute hand run on overdrive. -we are going to be LATE. How will I explain that to my boss? I need to make a good impression. This is my only shot

I feel like I’m guarding the door, pacing back and forth. The only thing I’m missing is a spear, or a musket, or whatever they use to guard doors these days. “Please hurry, Liza.” I hear clanking in the bathroom. A door slams. Then enters the most amazing woman I have ever seen. 5 years together and her appearance still takes my breath away.

Her face is etched with a scowl. She is still dressed in an old band tee that swallows her. “I’m not going, Tim. I’m done. I don’t feel like being in a crowd of strangers, discussing the weather and how I’m liking Manhattan do far. I can’t tolerate the fake today.”

I’m tense. “I’ve been waiting by this door for 20 minutes on you. Couldn’t you have told me you weren’t going sooner?”

“Listen, I didn’t want to be here in the first place. I’m not going.”

“Wait, by here do you mean Manhattan? Because, I swear that it was YOU who said I wasn’t free to begin with. It was YOU who said I needed peace away from that car wreck that was my life. And now, you are completely floored by the fear of it all. How is that even fair? Or rational?”

Liza just stares at me. No responses have been her favorite answers to all of my questions since we’ve moved. It’s like she doesn’t feel the need to answer such asinine questions, regardless of the importance of validity of them.

“Alright.” I conceded,” I’m going then. I’ll be back before eleven.”

“I don’t care when you get back Tim. You could move inwith your boss for all I care. I’m tired.” And with that she went back to bed.

I sigh. Exiting the small, uncomfortable apartment that still has a ghost smell of people before us, I walk down the steep stairwell and out the door. Like magic, I appear on a booming street corner, alive with the presence of so many faceless people. I take a deep breath. Manhattan was the best decision of my life. Leaving that place where we were stuck, that claustrophobic small town, and coming to this land of new beginnings was the cure to my sickness. We have nowhere to go but up, up to the stars that are masked by the glorious city lights.

Walking toward my bosses apartment (in the nice part of town), I inhale the crisp night air. I love it here. I just wish things could be less tense at home, with Liza. She hasn’t been taking the move well at all. I figure I’ll give her a few more weeks. Packing up and leaving a town where you’ve been since birth, leaving behind all of your friends and family, to go to a large foreign city is difficult. She’ll be alright…

I heard the lock click behind him as I lay in bed. This mattress probably has a Liza impression by now due to me spending everyday all day tucked inside it. The lights are off; they always are. I can’t bear to see the reality that my life has become so I keep the world shrouded in darkness.

I’m trapped between two desires: a manic desire to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, and a strong desire to do nothing, to lay and wither here.

I should probably do something. My heart beats so lazily, my thoughts come so slow, but my nerve endings are on edge. I feel like I’m trapped in the center of a storm, fine but aware of the danger near. I have to run, but I can’t.

I should clean. Scrubbing the apartment frees me of my thoughts. I feel renewed, like I’m baptizing my space in my concentration, cleansing it. So, I meander into the bathroom, fill a bucket of water and soap, and sink to my knees to scrub. The cool tile bites into my knees, but the pain brings only comfort. I scrub violently and my tendrils of my hair cling to my face. I’m not sure how long this bout lasts, but I just can’t anymore. It’s all so pointless. I grab the windex and lift myself to the medicine cabinet.

I’m very careful about cleaning mirrors usually. Very careful of meeting my face, locking onto my eyes. But, this time I am not so careful. My brown eyes lock onto my reflection’s. It’s like a spell. We stare at each other and I feel her drowning in her own pain, my pain. Our pain intermingles and the volume of it is just too much for me. Too much for her. I need to end it, but I can’t break the spell of our interlocking eyes.

Until, the reflection Liza gets an idea. She knows exactly how to relieve the pain. Mirror Liza whispers to me,

Open the medicine cabinet. You know what to do…

And I open the medicine cabinet, completely obedient to the one whose eyes are so ancient from the years of pain and struggle.

The party was alright. Music and discussions, alcohol and talks of business. I got homesick as I slid nameless through the crowd. I missed Liza. The guilt of what I had said expanded in my abdomen. I should just go back and apologize.

I take the stairs, walk down streets that are finally becomingfamiliar to me, and find my way back to my little apartment. I ascend the stairs, hoping that Liza would still be awake. My key slides into the lock and I open the door. The apartment is silent and all lights are off.

I’ll just apologize tomorrow. She’s probably asleep by now.

I walking down the hall into the bathroom to get ready for bed.The light turns on…

The horrific scene caused me to stop immediately. I couldn’t breathe.

There was my Liza laying in the bathtub, submerged in blue crystalline water with red tendrils curling like smoke around her. The blood seeped from her wrists, and kept moving, growing more alive as she grew less so. The mirror was shattered into thousands of pieces, decorating the tiled floor and providing the weapon that massacred her veins.

I ran over to her, pulling her out of the water, clutching her tightly.

Don’t leave me Liza. Don’t leave me. When you feel the world wrapping round your neck don’t succumb. Take my hand, Liza. Please.
“Please, don’t die. You can blame this all on me. It’s going to be alright, Liza, take it out on me… Not you….”

I reach for my phone and call 911, whimpering. My cries like gospel songs, pleading for forgiveness…

Yet, no forgiveness came… It never does. We are all simply broad-shouldered beasts struggling against one another and ourselves.

For this prompt, I knew that I had to use a Mumford & Sons song (only because I am obsessed), so I chose Broad-Shouldered Beasts. The story came to me while I was walking to work one morning, ear buds blasting Mumford and Sons on loop. It’s kind of depressing, but I hope you like it anyways!

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