When Alice got the divorce papers, when she saw his name, a list of assets, a list of agreements written down on white sheets of paper separating her from the life she knew, she took a deep breath.
Alice watched herself being erased from what she was, what she thought, from all that was important before and all that meant nothing now. She sat down slowly on the couch and stayed there. For a year.
She was blue.
Alice only got up from the couch to go to the kitchen or to the bathroom. The man who signed the paper dismissing her existence paid the rent, the utilities and some other things. But she knew, in truth, he didn’t do anything personally, he was never personal. Someone at his office sent the checks and paid the bills.
He was now just a signature on paper, a source of confusion and a reason for Alice to be on the couch and to be blue.
That year, she did not leave the house, ate only what was in the cupboards, did not turn on the TV, or radio or computer. That year, she was so blue that she cried and took a lot of baths. She couldn’t bring herself to go into the bedroom or look at the bedroom so she kept the door closed. Mail stacked up by the front door. Her grass turned brown, her car stayed in the garage. Nothing was done. No one visited.
Alice was blue.
After a year, Alice decided to take her last bath. She had run out of food and had very little soap left so she decided it was time. In order to take the last bath, she had to go to the bedroom. She had to open the door and walk to her closet. She knew it would be the last time she would do it and it took her three days to complete this task. The only reason she had to go into the bedroom was to get a swimming suit. She reasoned that someone would find her after the last bath and she did not want to be naked. Her only choice was to go into the bedroom and get a swimming suit from the closet. She stood, walked to the door that had been shut for so many days, and opened it. The sight of that huge bed made a sharp pain shoot across her flesh as if it were yesterday, as if she just saw the notes, heard the conversations. It felt as if she was cut in her guts as she stood in the room, took a deep breath and tried to focus. She decided to walk to the closet and get a swimming suit as planned. She recognized this was the last of her decisions. In the walk-in closet, she saw half the clothes missing, taken out more than a year ago. The other halfof the closet was full of clothes, neat and organized
the way she used to make her maid organize it, all hangers and clothes facing the same direction, everything
pressed, hanging color coordinated and perfect. She remembered scolding that maid for mixing beige with taupe and being in a rage that she did not understand the difference. The maid was right. There was not much of a difference. She saw dresses from big corporate parties, remembered arguments, and drinking, and shopping sprees that meant nothing. She saw cute outfits and designer shoes that when they were purchased made her happy, or what she thought was happy. She saw half a closet with nothing and half a closet with neat, lifeless, once expensive clothes, clothes which have become like her, no longer valid, valuable, or necessary. She smiled at this thought and went to the custom dresser ‘they’ were not happy with. The little dresser ‘they’ discussed and she whined about. The little dresser in the closet conversation that drove the poor ‘Closet
Lady’ insane. The dresser ‘they’ laughed about, the dresser that was so important, so wrong, so not perfect. It was the last time they laughed . It was the last time he talked to her, it was their last decision together.
He like a king extending pardon, gavethe ‘Closet Lady’ her check for the balance , even though the thing was not right. Together they smirked and watched the ‘Closet Lady’ cry. Poor thing, they were royalty in that moment, they held the fate of the Closet lady, holding back her pay her till the last second, how arrogant they were together?
She realized the swimming suit was a good idea as it was her last bath and who knows what someone would find her. She thought whoever would find her after her last bath would be unsettled anyway? Whoever would find her would not, at the very least, find her naked.
Before the divorce, when on a trip to San Francisco, she went into a Chinese market and found an old fashioned straight razor. It was new and the blade was steel, it interested her. So she bought it. It was just before the end of that other life of hers, before the papers, the arguments, the betrayal, the discoveries, before the couch, the silence, the tears. Before the year of being blue. She remembered standing at the counter and looking at the strange straight razor, in that moment, it reminded her of
something she could not put her finger on. She remembered trying to find a reason to buy it and the man showing her how sharp it was by cutting his finger with a swift touch. “Very sharp,” he warned. There was a part of her that knew exactly what it was for, she realized that now.
When she got home, she put it in her dresser in the little black box it came in as if it was jewelry, right
next to the diamond earrings he gave her for the first anniversary.
She went into the bathroom turned on the water, as hot as she could stand it and then…she settled into the tub.
After a year on the couch, looking at the papers, sleeping, thinking, and crying. She heard herself speak out loud, her voice was dry and scratchy from not talking. She said in a low steady tone “Today, today, today”
She said the word ‘Today’ like it was a chant or a prayer. “Today,” she repeated.
It was interesting to open the razor. It took a bit of work, it was long and heavy. The blade was still surprisingly sharp and the first cut went deep and was a shock. It hurt with a burning sting and poured her blood into the bath water. She cut again on the other arm, deep and after a moment she cut again, deep. It was a burning cut, water being mixed with blood, hot and surrounding her. After a moment she couldn’t feel anything, she got light-headed and her eyes focused on the circle of teardrops at the end of the tub. The part of the fixture that drained the excess water was sucking excess tub water into its teardrop slits.
Then a strange thing happened. The water turned blue. The mixture of blood and water turned azure blue, it was the last words that she said… “Azure…it’s Azure Blue,” and she felt herself pour through the teardrop slits at the end of the tub, and pass quickly through tubes and steel and then she was forced into the sea, the swirling life of the sea. Around and up and down, fast and suddenly slow. She moved and she was no longer she, the body was no longer her, now the azure turned to gold and green and nothing and everything and all that there is. She was living in every molecule, she was moving and touching and not touching everything. No more memory, regret, no more thoughts of love, no more couch and paperwork, now she was not anything but azure, and gold, everything and nothing, touching and cold, warm and for the first time filled with life!
BC PETRAKOS is an award-winning playwright, Pushcart Prize & Best Of The Web–nominated, widely published flash fiction writer.