Something that Makes Her Happy
Anonymous Story Submission:
Something That Makes Her Happy
The rushing of the water out of the faucet makes a wonderful background noise. I rest my head against the door as I lean against it, turning to press my cheek against the glass of the mirror that he had installed on the back of it when I was twelve. The glass is cool against my face, causing me to smile. While it is little relief, I welcome any I can find from the oppressive heat we’ve had for the last two weeks. I close my eyes and listen to the rush of the water, concentrating on the sound, slowing my breathing. Before long the hot water rushing out of the tap makes the room begin to steam, causing me to sigh. A bead of condensation rolls down the mirror and onto my cheek, tickling me, causing me to smile once more. There is a knock at the door, but I do not answer. She knocks again, harder. I know what comes next; I always know what comes next.
She yelled at me when I was in third grade for breaking her favorite vase, the one she had picked up at a garage sale shortly after great grandma had died. It was large and pink, gaudy as fuck, decorated with purple flowers and green vines, two large and overly ornate handles on its sides. It had been placed in the corner of the living room on a small table that had been sitting in the attic, occasionally filled with real flowers to complement the painted ones. My best friend had come over to play. We—I had been careless, bumping into the table, causing the vase to topple and smash to the floor. I heard her running before I saw her rush down the staircase. I had just enough time to push my friend out the front door before she made it all the way to the first floor. I had to pick up the many pieces of the broken ceramic mess while she yelled about responsibility, carelessness, and the price of things.
The knocks on the door turn to pounding, her voice rises. There is a small buzz in my ears while I continue to concentrate on the torrent of water. My breathing becomes slower and deeper, each breath taking in the humidity saturating the air while my thoughts wander.
I remember how, when I was in eighth grade, I had begged and begged for a pet, a real one, too, and not just another fish. He and she had talked about it, though she had mostly yelled about how it would be costly and messy and “stink the place up.” He had finally convinced her, though I never knew how, and they took me to choose the one I wanted. It was small, reddish-brown, with a black mark on its forehead and a black tip on its tail. It was full of energy and I fell in love at first sight. She took an instant dislike to it, though. “Loud” and “too much trouble” was all she would call it, never by name. I loved it, though, and would share my bed when I could, which wasn’t often and not for long. One day, after school, I came home to a mess in the kitchen, down the hall, and into living room. She started yelling the moment she saw me and the entire time I was cleaning. She had never wanted anything like that in the house and this was the reason why. I didn’t even get to say goodbye because she made him take it back before I got home. I was just left to clean up the mess while she yelled.
The sound of the water becomes muffled, as does the pounding at the door. My arms feel heavy and my breathing becomes even deeper. I don’t notice the heat so much any longer, though my face is covered in sweat. I brush my hand against my cheek and feel a slick warmth spread over it and trickle down. I smile again, though I do not understand why.
She yelled at me last year when I told her I was in love with my best friend of twelve years. We had met on the first day of kindergarten, sitting next to each other on the bus and then again in the classroom. Over the many years we had known each other, we experienced so much with each other, been in trouble together more than a few times, and had come as close as two people ever could. Expressing myself in such a way to the one I felt the closest to was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. I feared there would be words of anger or hatred, of disgust and rejection, but there had only smiles and hugs and acceptance. In the end, however, it was known that we would only ever be friends. As it turned out, she would be the one to reject. I sat at the kitchen table and listened to her while she yelled. “Deviant,” “abnormal,” “disgusting”… the list went on. I did not move. I did not speak. I only stared at the table, my arms at my sides, while she yelled.
I smile as I begin to feel a tingling coolness spread across my body. I can hear something, a voice—her voice, perhaps—and a pounding. My thoughts are hazy and come to me slowly. I feel something pushing hard against me and I slump forward. I hear her voice more clearly now, yelling still, always yelling. But there’s something different about it this time, something in her voice I’ve never heard before. She must have seen the mess I have made. I’m always making a mess in one way or another, of something here or there. I open my eyes, though it’s difficult to see, the light seems far off. I see that she is kneeling over me, but her face is blurry. Her hands grip mine, but a sticky slickness causes hers to slide off, leaving mine cool and tingling. I feel the tingle spreading everywhere, wrapping around me like a soft cloth. I can still hear her yelling, she’s always yelling about something I’ve done wrong.
I smile and close my eyes; I don’t hear her yelling any more. Maybe she’s finally found something that makes her happy.