Learning to Smile
“Jamie?!” A low voice calls from the outside. “You done in there? Come on, dude, it’s the only bathroom in the house!”
Jamie pulls his eyes away from the door and becomes aware of himself; his breathing has become quick, shallow gasps of air, his heart pounds in his chest. His distant gaze comes to focus upon the bleeding wound of his wrist. New tears form at the thought of his actions, fear of what he almost accomplished, disappointment in what he failed to finish. He wipes his eyes upon the back of his right wrist before clasping his hand over the wound, clenching it tightly to obstruct the flow. It’s hardly more than a deep scratch, it will heal.
“Y-yeah,” Jamie stutters in response to the door. He closes his eyes, squeezes them tight to hold back further tears and takes a deep breath to steady his breathing. “I’m just… cleaning up.”
“Be quick, man, I’ve really got to shit!”
Keeping his hand over his wrist, Jamie pulls a wad of tissue from the roll with the blood drenched fingers of his left hand. Slowly, distractedly, he leans down and wipes at the pool on the damp floor. It smears across the yellow linoleum, soaks into the tissue, and is discarded in the toilet. Once the mess is off the floor and flushed away, he moves to the sink, turns on the hot water and thrusts his hands into it. The evidence of his weakness runs from his hands, swirls about the sink and vanishes beneath the stopper. With the wound exposed he can see what little damage was done; it’s not enough to change anything, but at least it’s not too deep. A flesh wound. Already, it’s almost stopped bleeding.
“Dude!” The man outside the door makes his presence known.
Without response, Jamie examines the wound to ensure it’s not bleeding too noticeably, then slides his bracelets back down his forearm to cover it and pulls the door open. The man outside pushes through the door way, his short, round body bumping the taller man aside.
Jamie stares off down the hall. On the left, photos of the owner’s family line the narrow hall, leaving only the options of walking sideways, or knocking the frames from their delicate perches. To the right are the second and third bedrooms, each of which is hardly larger than a van. The twin mattresses in either of the rooms take up most of the floor space; piles of clothes, junk and trash occupy the rest of it. A cloud of smoke fills the view at the end of the hall, the cat-piss smell of Marijuana filling the house, overpowering the incense lit to mask the intent of this gathering.
“Close the door, man.”
Jamie glances over his shoulder, reaching out to grab the handle and close the door to the bathroom. Immediately, his head jerks away and his eyes clench shut in disgust.
“Jesus, Kip!” Jamie yells, quickly closing the door on the pant-less man squatting over the toilet bowl already relieving himself. He starts moving down the hall, careful of the wall of photos, and ignoring the obnoxious laughter from the bathroom.