The bathtub is full, but not with water; I do not know what that substance is, whether it is a solid, a liquid, or if it came from the taps that I have not turned in years, or possibly bled from the walls which shine as though freshly painted, nor can I be sure if it was there when I entered or only appeared after I closed and locked the door. I am not even sure what colour the substance in the bath is as it seems to shimmer as it eats light from the bare bulb hanging from the cracked ceiling, a thousand thin lines stretching on into forever, like a thousand paths, a thousand possibilities, waiting for someone to take a step, a life being left behind so a new life might be begun. And all the while, there is a screaming filling the small room, the word ‘more’ over and again – a screaming I would swear is coming from the substance in the bathtub – almost drowning out the morose tap-tap-tapping on the locked bathroom door, a tap-tap-tapping that began as soon as I slid the lock across, like an ever-repeating echo of the sound of the bolt sliding home.
I refuse to investigate the tapping. I refuse to touch the substance in the bathtub. Both, I know, would be the end of me, and cruel curiosity will not be the pale carrier of my death today, as it has been many times before. I will simply remain standing here at the sink, naked, my clothes long faded into dust, a brand-new razor blade loose in my shaking hand, the unbroken mirror over the sink offering me a fragmentary reflection, a familiar stranger staring back at me. My hand continues to shake, the hand holding the razor blade which shines like the birth of a new sun, while my other hand grips the edge of the sink with a tightness I imagine could still the spin of the world. The bathtub is still full and the tap-tap-tapping grows louder against the door.
Edward Lee’s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib and Poetry Wales. He is currently working on a novel.
He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.
His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com