As he sat up, he heard soft dripping sounds from the bathroom, little plips like water slipping over the edges of the tub and into the floor. The hairs on the back of his neck rose as he realized where he‟d last heard that sound. His muscles tight with strain from his earlier exertions, he stood and walked warily toward the half open bathroom door and the tub beyond it. Slipping quietly past the door, he saw that the curtain was drawn, and again the shadowed figure lay behind it. One long, slim, leg dangled from the end of the tub, beads of water gliding down its length and off the polished toes. At the other end he saw a mass of auburn curls, matted deep red near the porcelain of the tub. It was the dream and the vision again, more real now, too strong to deny. Shaking, he moved toward the curtain, gagging on the sickly smell of rust and roses, feeling the thin nylon glide between thumb and palm as he pulled it back to reveal his darkest nightmare and deepest regret. He could see the crimson water now, blood bubbles gliding over its surface and clinging to the legs dangling over the tub‟s edge. When he‟d pulled the curtain completely away from the tub and around to its opposite side, he saw her face. Her eyes were closed and he saw that her lids were bruised and purple against the translucent paleness of her face, drained completely dead white under the makeup she‟d brushed on before she‟d died. Staggering by the sight of her, he knelt by the tub and extended one shaking hand to touch her cheek. It all seemed as if he‟d walked into a horror film and once again he needed to prove to his mind that this wasn‟t real. His hand shook as he lifted it nearer to her flesh, waiting for the corpse, the supposedly dead and buried to move. He touched his quivering fingers to her face, feeling its claylike reality. The sensation caused an immediate shudder of revulsion and he fought not to vomit. Even as the moment came, the sight of her moving in the water startled him and he jumped away from the tub. It wasn‟t an obvious movement at first, only soft breaths moving in and out of her nostrils, but then her chest rose and fell with it and he quaked, feeling unstable where he knelt on the floor.
Her eyes opened next and he felt the blood fall out of his face, wanting to scream but too afraid he would cause her to take some action, to reach out and touch him, proving well and forever that he was indeed insane. Scream and you might as well slit your own throat. He swallowed the scream like a rock and stared as her eyes moved slowly in their sockets, locking on him. Slowly, as if she‟d lost control of her muscles, she rose from the tub and looked down at him, smiling. Blood water slid down her bare body, over her neck, down her back and the smooth ridges of her breasts, to slip slowly down her thighs and down over her calves. A puddle spread on the floor, and as it extended toward him he struggled to his feet, skittering away from it. As he watched it spread, he shivered, weak as he started to cry frantic, horrified tears. Breaking down, he looked back up at her face and slipped to the floor once more, his knees incapable of sustaining his own weight. The smile grew wider as she strode to his shivering form, thrown on his side and struggling to rise. The blood water seeped into his clothes, making him sick, a drop of it trickling along the lobe of his ear and into it. And then she leaned down, holding those dim, stained curls of auburn out of her face and tucking them behind her ear. Her lips parted, blue beneath the strong crimson red of her lipstick, and she spoke into his ear with the chill breath of the dead. His eyes grew wide and horrified as she spoke, the hair on his neck rising, sending a maddening shiver of fear through him. “I‟ve returned, Raven.” She whispered “And I want what is mine.” The last thing he saw before his mind, finally, thankfully, shut down was her face in front of his. They were pursed for a kiss.
Amanda M. Lyons