Penance (microfiction)

Dinner, the three of them. Mother asks her son-in-law if he ever feels guilty about his past, the mistakes he made, the surgeries when he lost patients. He says nothing but bites his thumb. She hears the crack of bone, sees the blood squirt onto her meatloaf. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Mother says.

Transient (short story)

Elsa paused for a moment to study the items in her suitcase before she spread them out on the bed. A book she had read on the plane, a plastic Walgreens bag, her iPod and accompanying iHome, her wallet (she had tossed her ID out the window of the taxi), the contents of her bank account. She had wanted to travel light. Having worked in a hotel as a young woman, she knew what kind of messes people left behind.

She supposed the money could have gone to her family, but she was hoping it would be a nice tip for the unlucky soul who was going to find a corpse in the bathtub tomorrow morning. Ideally, whoever it was could find a use for everything. Well, almost everything. She wondered if someone could enjoy a dead woman’s iPod.

Speaking of which. There had been a song she wanted to hear while she went about her business—Tori Amos’s cover of “I Don’t Like Mondays.” She herself had no problem with Mondays—in fact it was Thursday—but the tune had been going around in her head for a long time, particularly one phrase.

Elsa stepped into the bathroom. The walls were a soothing pale green. She brushed aside the complimentary shampoo and plugged in her iHome. Humming filled the bathroom, echoing off the walls. “The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload…”

She sang along in snatches and whispers as the tub filled with water, removing her clothes. Ah, here it was. “And he can see no reasons/’Cause there are no reasons/What reason do you need to die?”

Returning to her suitcase, she removed the plastic bag with the razor blades. Upon opening the pack of twenty, she took one. Holding it up to the light, she admired the glint of clean steel. It looks sharp, but I better take two, just in case. She left the open package on the bed; no sense being wasteful. Surely someone could use them.

The song had ended. She set it to repeat and sank into the warmth of the bathtub.