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16+

LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 1.5

by winterwolf0100


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

The difference between baths and showers:

1. Shower: The water rains down on me like bullets, hailing relentlessly and attacking my skin with constant heat, bruising me with thoughts that zip by so fast, I’m terrified to blink and miss them.

     Bath: The water soothes and lulls, relaxes the muscles and cools itself against my body, thoughts of molasses pulled by gravity, hazy soft memories rising to the surface.

2. Shower: Teenagers take showers. Adults take showers. They are made for those who are steady on their feet, who do not stumble in the downpour.

     Bath: The injured take baths. The overwhelmed take baths. They are made for the babies who would choke on the rain, the small children who slip in the puddles.

3. Shower: Showers are made to wash away my sins, sweep away the dirt and grime in a forceful wind and slide it all down the drain.

     Bath: It softens the outer shell, lets me sit in my sorrow and watch it curl through the water like fog across the surface of ponds.

4. Shower: Serious and poised, quick and business-like. Showers are meant for people who have places to be and schedules to follow, briefcases and suits. Showers are abused by the depressed who stand under the water just to feel something pricking against them.

     Bath: Slowed and fun, bubbly and childish. Baths are meant for children who play out the tragedy of the Titanic and hold a toy ship underwater just to watch the bubbles rise, mustaches of foam and wrinkled fingers. Baths are abused by the guilty who sink into the water just to feel the heat pressing down on their lungs like God enacting his vengeance.

I write the list out in my head, eyes squeezed shut, stabbing behind my eyes. The migraine melts inside me and sloshes like frothy water, rising to strike against my temple again. Five years ago, I stopped taking baths. Five years ago, I realized the real difference.

When I was thirty-three, my life was meaningless. Meaningless job. Meaningless marriage. Meaningless divorce. One day, I bought bubbles from the store and drew myself a bath. I don’t know why, looking back. I think I was trying to ground myself, to connect to something concrete. I used to love baths when I was little. I’d play with toys for so long my skin wrinkled beyond recognition and the tips of my fingers felt reptilian. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought I could get some of that happiness back. Maybe I thought it could tie me down to that innocence. Maybe I thought it could wash away the knives behind my eyes.

I remember climbing into the tub, lowering myself into the steaming water, the pain and then relief of my muscles relaxing, leaning backwards, head tilted upwards, eyes drifting closed towards the ceiling.

Everyone always talks about shower thoughts, the moment of lightning striking, electrocuting the color from your eyes. It’s the moment of genius, when all the problems are fixed, the solutions fit together like pieces of a puzzle, the image becomes clear as the fog rolls out into the sea. That’s not how showers are for me.

They reveal the problems, poke fun in the incessant silence, exhaust me with the effort to stand and beat me down with the echo of my thoughts.

But baths— they’re worse. They bring you comfort, steal cookies with you and splash in the mud, climb trees and play tag and stand back to back. They bring your guard down and goad you on in a game of chicken. They watch you step out into the road and—

My head is burning. I want this feeling gone, I want this all to end, I just want it to be over. But I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to die, I think. I don’t want this to keep going on like this either though.

That day five years ago, when I sat in that bath, I leaned my arms against the sides of the tub as I allowed myself to sink deep down in it, chin grazing water. My head slipped under the surface, bubbles muffling the desperation far away inside my mind, distanced, screaming to push upward. My problems sloshed around me, slowed and calmed as they swirled around my head, filled my ears and bargained with my lungs. My fingers relaxed their grip and slipped as my arms splashed into the water and—

"Head bashed in on the bathtub."

And suddenly I was drowning in blood, pushing myself to the surface and gasping for air, and even though I was out of the water I felt to hot, so suffocated, and I coughed and choked and it echoed inside the small bathroom, please, please don’t do i—.

I heaved on dry air, trying to get the water from my lungs, standing suddenly, covered in bubbles like they could hide what I’d done, what I always did. My panicked gasps bounced off the walls and shattered the mirrors as I stood unsteadily on my feet.

"This is so stupid, it isn’t fun at all!"

I was covered in blood. I couldn’t get the image out of my head, the blood on the bathtub, I’d touched it, I’d submerged myself in it, it wouldn’t come off my skin. I started the shower water but the drain was still plugged so the water pelleted down and splashed like rainwater in puddles. I tried to catch my breath and found water filling up my mouth, coughed it out, I wanted this off me, I wanted the feeling off me, and God, my head hurts so bad and I just wanted it off.

I laid my forehead against the tile in front of me, felt the water slick down my back and legs, pool as it rose below my knees. Tears escaped my eyes, flowing down my cheeks, and I can feel them pricking at my eyes now from the pain, pushing their way through, trying to cool my skin and head but it isn’t going to help, nothing is going to help, nothing is going to make this go away.

The water began to slosh over the edges of the bathtub, hitting the tile below in a burst of noise followed by silence, the lapping of waves at the shore. I cried and tried to breathe.

Eventually, I unplugged the drain and shut the water off. My skin felt raw and bruised, scrubbed obsessively clean. The image of blood on the bathtub stained my hands. The image of that victorious grin, that look of relief like she’d finally made it, burned in my brain. I leaned against the tile, hoping the cold would help to pull me back into focus.

I felt numb even as I shivered. Bubbles floated to the bottom of the tub, stuck to the sides and slowly inched downward. And that was the last time I took a bath.

I’m crying on the floor now, numb, laying in the darkness that’s still stabbingly bright. Wishing it would all go away. The memory replays in my mind on loop, gritty footage in a black-and-white horror movie. Electrocuting currents running through murky bathwater, a killer’s shadow behind a shower curtain. I feel stained by that memory, that phone-call, that game. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wash that feeling out of my skin.

But I do know one thing— after that day, I stuck to showers.

   

~~~

  

1305 words

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3829 Reviews


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Fri Dec 23, 2022 6:08 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!! So here we are on yet another part and tissue update, we still haven't needed them. So onward we march...

First Impression: This is a bit of a detour I feel from our earlier thing, Its not quite reflection or a memory but sort of both at once and a little different from the previous styles, but it still is just as powerful of a piece I would say.

Anyway let's get right to it,

1. Shower: The water rains down on me like bullets, hailing relentlessly and attacking my skin with constant heat, bruising me with thoughts that zip by so fast, I’m terrified to blink and miss them.

Bath: The water soothes and lulls, relaxes the muscles and cools itself against my body, thoughts of molasses pulled by gravity, hazy soft memories rising to the surface.

2. Shower: Teenagers take showers. Adults take showers. They are made for those who are steady on their feet, who do not stumble in the downpour.

Bath: The injured take baths. The overwhelmed take baths. They are made for the babies who would choke on the rain, the small children who slip in the puddles.

3. Shower: Showers are made to wash away my sins, sweep away the dirt and grime in a forceful wind and slide it all down the drain.

Bath: It softens the outer shell, lets me sit in my sorrow and watch it curl through the water like fog across the surface of ponds.

4. Shower: Serious and poised, quick and business-like. Showers are meant for people who have places to be and schedules to follow, briefcases and suits. Showers are abused by the depressed who stand under the water just to feel something pricking against them.

Bath: Slowed and fun, bubbly and childish. Baths are meant for children who play out the tragedy of the Titanic and hold a toy ship underwater just to watch the bubbles rise, mustaches of foam and wrinkled fingers. Baths are abused by the guilty who sink into the water just to feel the heat pressing down on their lungs like God enacting his vengeance.


Ooooh that is arguably the most emotion I have ever managed to experience while reading about showers and baths, I can say that with utter confidence. Its a beautiful place to start proceedings because in such a short seemingly unconnected list we find a lot about this person and how they tend to think and while its not completely obvious how exactly this person goes about their baths or showers there's enough hints to make it out through what we can see.

I write the list out in my head, eyes squeezed shut, stabbing behind my eyes. The migraine melts inside me and sloshes like frothy water, rising to strike against my temple again. Five years ago, I stopped taking baths. Five years ago, I realized the real difference.

When I was thirty-three, my life was meaningless. Meaningless job. Meaningless marriage. Meaningless divorce. One day, I bought bubbles from the store and drew myself a bath. I don’t know why, looking back. I think I was trying to ground myself, to connect to something concrete. I used to love baths when I was little. I’d play with toys for so long my skin wrinkled beyond recognition and the tips of my fingers felt reptilian. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought I could get some of that happiness back. Maybe I thought it could tie me down to that innocence. Maybe I thought it could wash away the knives behind my eyes.

I remember climbing into the tub, lowering myself into the steaming water, the pain and then relief of my muscles relaxing, leaning backwards, head tilted upwards, eyes drifting closed towards the ceiling.


Well this is something. I don't know if I've again ever seen something narrated so powerfully through something you think so little about like a bath but it feels like you go and open our eyes here to just how much does in fact happen inside a bath. It lets us learn so much about Clay in addition just the little bit of backstory you're already slipping in here.

Everyone always talks about shower thoughts, the moment of lightning striking, electrocuting the color from your eyes. It’s the moment of genius, when all the problems are fixed, the solutions fit together like pieces of a puzzle, the image becomes clear as the fog rolls out into the sea. That’s not how showers are for me.

They reveal the problems, poke fun in the incessant silence, exhaust me with the effort to stand and beat me down with the echo of my thoughts.

But baths— they’re worse. They bring you comfort, steal cookies with you and splash in the mud, climb trees and play tag and stand back to back. They bring your guard down and goad you on in a game of chicken. They watch you step out into the road and—


This is wonderful, and I am having a very sinking feeling about where this might be going, because as much as this seems to connect to Clay's feelings and how he felt about things in his life as it all developed, I can't help but be reminded of our bathtub from much earlier and if maybe this thing that has currently been trigged within Clay's minds has something to with that memory too.

My head is burning. I want this feeling gone, I want this all to end, I just want it to be over. But I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to die, I think. I don’t want this to keep going on like this either though.

That day five years ago, when I sat in that bath, I leaned my arms against the sides of the tub as I allowed myself to sink deep down in it, chin grazing water. My head slipped under the surface, bubbles muffling the desperation far away inside my mind, distanced, screaming to push upward. My problems sloshed around me, slowed and calmed as they swirled around my head, filled my ears and bargained with my lungs. My fingers relaxed their grip and slipped as my arms splashed into the water and—


Oh dear, oh dear, this is definitely headed that way and its absolutely terrifying how easy it is to see these thoughts swirl and twist and how it seems as if Clay's own attempts at feeling better and analyzing his mood is working against him to make it all much much worse the moment a tiny thing goes wrong again.

"This is so stupid, it isn’t fun at all!"

I was covered in blood. I couldn’t get the image out of my head, the blood on the bathtub, I’d touched it, I’d submerged myself in it, it wouldn’t come off my skin. I started the shower water but the drain was still plugged so the water pelleted down and splashed like rainwater in puddles. I tried to catch my breath and found water filling up my mouth, coughed it out, I wanted this off me, I wanted the feeling off me, and God, my head hurts so bad and I just wanted it off.

I laid my forehead against the tile in front of me, felt the water slick down my back and legs, pool as it rose below my knees. Tears escaped my eyes, flowing down my cheeks, and I can feel them pricking at my eyes now from the pain, pushing their way through, trying to cool my skin and head but it isn’t going to help, nothing is going to help, nothing is going to make this go away.


This is a really powerful little snapshot here and you get an amazing sense of how much it seems Clay's own thoughts are trapping him and working so powerfully against him. I think this one does however dip a little past the realm of reality and back into a more abstract power simply because Clay seems to be in a state of mind that's a bit too far towards the bad side for me to relate personally, but it still works really well within the frame of how like I've said reality has been employed to devasting effect in this story.

I’m crying on the floor now, numb, laying in the darkness that’s still stabbingly bright. Wishing it would all go away. The memory replays in my mind on loop, gritty footage in a black-and-white horror movie. Electrocuting currents running through murky bathwater, a killer’s shadow behind a shower curtain. I feel stained by that memory, that phone-call, that game. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wash that feeling out of my skin.

But I do know one thing— after that day, I stuck to showers.


This is another powerful little ending, and again it connects to the start beautifully to leave a message that just absolutely seems to echo within our minds as the readers.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, this one was yet again awesome, but I think this feels more disconnected compared to the rest of the story. Its not quite in line with the previous bits and while we do have that one teeny connection back it feels a bit too far away. Its not bad per see because it is a different chapter but I feel like a little more to link it back would be a good idea cause its a bit of a sudden shift when you're reading it in one go.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Fri Dec 16, 2022 4:55 am
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SilverNight wrote a review...



Heyyyyy winter, it's great to come back to this story again! You'll be my first review for this Review Day ^^

This chapter is going a little bit differently from past ones, since it's much less of a story that Clay's telling us. It's more of an explanation and a step back, because he's telling a story that's mostly about other stories. It all feels relevant and not just a filler chapter, though, so I haven't lost any interest in what's taking place! We are still getting to know Clay at this point, so this is helpful for that.

Okayyyyyyyyy. Review time!

The start of the chapter is almost like a list poem of sorts, which is cool. I liked the repetitive, yet opposite, pattern alternating between the shower and the bath, where the sentence structure and starter would be very similar yet go on to say very different things and have entirely separate emotions and imagery attached to them. It was also interesting that in your comparison you didn't portray one as any better than the other! I was expecting a clear difference in the contrast, where the shower would be described as more positive and the bath more negatively, or the other way around, but instead it was more mixed while still keeping the differences between them clear. I liked it!

Five years ago, I stopped taking baths. Five years ago, I realized the real difference.

When I was thirty-three, my life was meaningless. Meaningless job. Meaningless marriage. Meaningless divorce.


This is the first time I've seen an actual number for Clay's current age-- thirty-eight-- and I have to say, it surprised me? We've largely had childhood stories so far, with just one as an adult that he was specified to be in his early twenties for, so I've been imagining him as a lot younger, about ten years younger or late twenties, or at least not as a middle-aged guy. I haven't been misled by anything exactly, but I have been filling in the gaps in the meantime, so this might be something you want to establish earlier so that it's less confusing and unexpected XD

The life information about his marriage (and divorce, poor guy) is also new, but it didn't catch me off guard like his age did, as it's fitting with how I know him to a sad man. a really sad man. sad little man. honestly rip Clay you've been so mean to him >:(

Maybe I thought it could tie me down to that innocence. Maybe I thought it could wash away the knives behind my eyes.


I've seen a lot about him having headaches, and I'm starting to wonder if it's from something other than stress? Haven't come up with specific theories for the alternative possibilities because I don't know if I'm thinking about it too hard or not but you could definitely be hinting at it :eyes:

Everyone always talks about shower thoughts, the moment of lightning striking, electrocuting the color from your eyes. It’s the moment of genius, when all the problems are fixed, the solutions fit together like pieces of a puzzle, the image becomes clear as the fog rolls out into the sea. That’s not how showers are for me.

They reveal the problems, poke fun in the incessant silence, exhaust me with the effort to stand and beat me down with the echo of my thoughts.


These could work better as one paragraph maybe? It doesn't feel like nearly enough of a jump/change from one to the other for them to be separate ;-;

"Head bashed in on the bathtub."

And suddenly I was drowning in blood, pushing myself to the surface and gasping for air, and even though I was out of the water I felt to hot, so suffocated, and I coughed and choked and it echoed inside the small bathroom, please, please don’t do i—.


NOOOOOOO NO NO THIS HURTS. I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING NOOOO.

I started the shower water but the drain was still plugged so the water pelleted down and splashed like rainwater in puddles. I tried to catch my breath and found water filling up my mouth, coughed it out, I wanted this off me, I wanted the feeling off me, and God, my head hurts so bad and I just wanted it off.


3. Shower: Showers are made to wash away my sins, sweep away the dirt and grime in a forceful wind and slide it all down the drain.


I wonder if these are supposed to connect in some way? I do see a connection, though you could also expand on it some more if you wanted to sort of go back to the start and tie it in again. It's a nice way to add layers to the story, which you are both good at and seem to like doing!

I’m crying on the floor now, numb, laying in the darkness that’s still stabbingly bright. Wishing it would all go away. The memory replays in my mind on loop, gritty footage in a black-and-white horror movie. Electrocuting currents running through murky bathwater, a killer’s shadow behind a shower curtain. I feel stained by that memory, that phone-call, that game. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wash that feeling out of my skin.


The jump to the present is kinda confusing, because I've got no idea where Clay's at or what he's doing, but also really intriguing and makes me wonder about some questions. What's making him reflect on everything like this? How come he's still consumed about these things at thirty eight to the point where he's so in the past, the idea that he has a present feels out of place? I look forward to finding out >.>

That's what I've got right now, though I'll certainly be back later! Good job and good luck as always <3

-silv c:





By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
— Genesis 3:19