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Mayday

by Cameo-Rose Neal 9 months ago in Short Story · updated 9 months ago
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Three taps, one after another. Over and over again. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Her eyes are unfocused as she stirs her cup of tea. The hand not holding onto the small, silver teaspoon clutches the pendant at her throat like a lifeline — a tether to the reality she knows.

The chain is gold and sturdy, with small fastenings that interlink to form a sweeping arc around her throat and an emerald at the front. Her birthstone. I bought it for her two years ago. My May Day love.

A moment passes, then another goes by. A minute more and she's still frozen in the simple motion. The ticking of metal hitting porcelain is the only sound to occupy the small kitchen we are stood in and it grows ever louder the longer I stick around to watch.

Then, suddenly, it happens. She comes back to herself in a fluid motion and it's like she's been woken from a dream.

Mayday.

Gasping, her head is thrown forwards and it's with a sob she bows before that cup of tea, moving to push it further onto the countertop as she grasps the corners of the ledge between fingertips.

I move, instinctively, forwards.

"Darling," I sigh. I'm holding back my own tears as her body is overtaken by cruel hiccups.

When I slide a palm over her back, she shivers.

Her body is shaking. Like a blossom in spring being blown by the breeze she crumples, finding only moments of peace to right herself before the phenomenon happens all over again.

She's running out of breath. I begin to tap my fingers against her spine in what is supposed to be a soothing pattern — just as I've always done.

Three taps, one after another. Over and over again. I love you. I love you. I love you.

She flattens herself against the countertop, chest heaving, eyes streaming. After what feels like hours, she begins to settle.

"Shh," I whisper gently, doing my best to keep my voice low. "You're alright."

She begins to pick herself up. Like a Russian doll, she compacts the layers of her pain until her centre is hidden once more. Standing straight, she reaches for the mug once more.

I let my hands drop and take a step back.

Her black dress is now creased but, it's okay. The day ended hours ago.

She scoops the now tepid mug from the side and sweeps from the room.

I follow her and the lights flicker when I leave.

It feels strange to follow her, if I'm being entirely honest. But, still, it feels wrong to let her out of my sight when she's in this sort of state.

She shoves the door to the bathroom open in an angry burst and I watch as it hits the wall with a smack.

She doesn't blink at the noise. Instead, it seems to rile her up more. Without a second thought, she tosses the mug into the sink and watches it cracks down the centre.

"Mayday," she shakes her head, tears beginning to overflow from the corners of her eyes. Her hands, shaking with the weight of the day, are slowly raised to her head and all I can do is watch as she smacks them against her temples.

I wince as I cross the threshold, watching how the lightbulb flashes, and take a seat upon the closed toilet lid as she crumples to the floor. Sobs wreak her body once more, but this time, they're silent.

It's been an emotionally exhausting day, and the denial she's been living in these past few weeks appears to be drawing to a close.

Not a whisper of sound escapes her lips, but her face...it contorts with the pain of screams so horrid that I'm certain, if they were audible, would have the police here in minutes.

I can feel the salt of my tears caressing the corners of my mouth. They mingle with my stubble and tickle my chin as I lift my hand to rest it atop her head, gently playing with the strands that fall there.

Her hair is stood on end. A ravaged knot is beginning to form around the base of her head from hours of tugging and pulling at it.

I want more than anything to pull her into my arms but I refrain. I can't help her now.

Like last time, she composes herself eventually and stands, albeit unsteadily, to reach and drag the zipper beneath the arm of her dress down. Her fingers clasp the small strip of metal there and, with the motion, the fabric melts from her body to puddle against the ground.

I'm left to watch in despair.

The small cut on her left ankle from the heels she wore all day — irrelevant to her beauty. The yellowing bruise on her knee from the accident — a masterpiece if she's the one wearing it. The red marks her underwear left on her hips — attractive to me even if she can't stand them. The slight curve of her belly, the one she always calls 'ugly' — perfection. The freckles that smother her chest — I used to tell her they are a constellation of kisses I'd leave if she'd only let me. And her lips — chapped and flaking though they are, they're still the greatest creation on this planet in my eyes.

I'm still enraptured as she reaches a hand to unpick the contraption that's tangled into her tresses and, though it takes her perhaps a moment longer than it should, she pulls free the metal needle and the strands swing down her spine.

She turns and steps into the shower, allowing the stream of water to hit her directly. Slowly but surely, it seems to do its job and I notice her body beginning to relax a muscle at a time.

I stand from my position and walk over to her, lifting my right palm and letting it rest against the glass for a moment before thinking better of myself and heading for the door.

Just before I leave, she lifts her head and stares.

For a moment, my heart hammers a little too forcefully. Then, I notice that it is not me she is looking at through the glass but at the print I've left on the shower door.

My head cocks to one side whilst I hold my breath. Not even a second later, she shakes her head and turns away once more. I exhale with a puff and nod slowly in resignation, heading instead for the bedroom with a flicker in my step.

I'm sat on the windowsill, just a silhouette against the coming morning light.

The clock at the nightstand reads 04:27. The green letters blink at me mercilessly as she steps into the room with her towel pulled tightly against her skin. She leaves the green glow of the clock as the only light to occupy the small space as she stumbles forward in the near dark.

I can still see the steam rising from her skin and I smirk despite myself.

"What did we say about having the water on too hot?" I jest as she collapses into our bed, skin flushed and cheeks pink

She sighs and begins to snuggle up, getting closer and closer to my side of the bed as I hover at the edge. She falls asleep snuggled into my pillow, a hand fisted around one of my old shirts that she found.

It's how she's fallen asleep every day for the last fortnight.

"Mayday," I breathe out slowly, because I know the worst is over.

Things pass in a blur over the next three months. For the most part, I stay by her side. It's strange how life carries on without you. Human beings are resilient creatures.

Now and again, she'll be sucked from this world. Eyes glazed and unfocused.

She's usually sat in our room when it happens and so I press buttons on our clock to watch the lights flicker as I've come to know they will. Three taps, one after another. Over and over again. I love you. I love you. I love you.

The first time, I think I made her cry harder.

The second, she nearly stopped breathing.

By the third, she wore the ghost of a smile and after the seventh, she'd begun to warn me when she felt close to tears.

"Mayday," My May would whisper and clutch at her emerald chain.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

I know that one day, I'll have to stop.

Every time she smiles, she takes a step away from me and closer to somebody new. She doesn't mean to but I can see it. Every time she lets something of mine go, she closes another door. I can feel it.

The day she packed up my old shirt was the worst. I cried as she silently folded the linen and placed it into an old suitcase. I'm glad to see it. It means she's healing. It doesn't make it any easier to watch, though.

It feels as though I'm slowly being written out of this world. The threads of my life are tethered to her but with each new day, she lets a couple more go.

"Mayday," I murmur as she places the suitcase of stuff into the attic.

She freezes, body shuddering. "I love you."

Short Story

About the author

Cameo-Rose Neal

Wannabe writer, midnight adventurer, and lover of all things that transcend the typical.

Just a Content Editor trying to make it in the mixed-up world of fire breathing dragons, murderous courtesans, and wronged princes.

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