This story is by Laurel Jean and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Vicky touches the weird blue liquid running out of her faucet. It feels slimy and she wonders why? The steady stream goes into the pool, swirling like a blue rainbow reflecting the light from the many windows in the room. She looks through the glass. The sky’s usual soft morning blue is dull, the brightness is missing and gray has replaced the color streaked clouds of sunrise. The warm pink hues are missing and the day lingers cold. Vicky ties back her long auburn hair and turns off the faucet. She steps into the blue liquid. Wiggling her toes, she feels a peculiar familiarity. She doesn’t care, life has slimed her before.
Her red dress from last night looks purple now as the liquid saturates it. The night did not turn out as planned and she didn’t bother to change for bed. Maybe her dress will protect her outer skin from the cold pool like her shell protects her inner being. Hoping the cold will soothe her swollen cried out hazel eyes she goes in deeper and lets the blue jelly-like slime slither over her petite body. The coldness feels like the rain on an early winter day, but Vicky doesn’t mind the cold. Cold enough out there in the world, what does it matter inside her pool or the solarium, her private world. Will she ever feel the warmth again? The warmth of his smile, his touch, not the slime of his jealousy? Ah, shaking the thought from her mind she dips under the cold slime again.
Vicky becomes one with the cold blue while swirling to the slow music coming into the room. The long delicate fabric of her dress twirls with her movements; tangling her legs like a giant octopus capturing her. She twists breaking free and with closed eyes listens to the captivating tune. Dah de-dah, dah de-dum, dah de-dah, dah de-dum, a reverie dulling her mind to any thoughts trying to creep in as she moves to the music.
Glancing toward her large birdcage she looks at the Scarlet Chested Parakeets with their brilliant colors like little fluffy rainbows as they preen themselves. They usually make her happy, but today she looks through them with an expressionless face. They flap their wings and flit back and forth from perch to feeder as if they are trying to flash their colors at her to brighten the dullness, she only sees. Vicky turns from them, not wanting to let them tempt her into a smile or thought of days gone by.
But it was too late, as she recalled the highs and lows,
Mountain tops and valleys, where life lives and grows.
She looked back over the difficult climb,
Out over the struggles and the rhymes.
Rhymes of smiles to successful trials,
And rhymes of joys with her new toys.
Sunny days with happy rays,
And funny day with silly plays.
No, stop, don’t think. Under the slime Vicky let herself sink.
Quiet there, under the blue, only the muffled sound of her gentle hand movements steering her body around the pool. It sounds like a distant long slow swoosh of bubbles. Unhurried motion keeps her from hitting the walls. Walls surround Vicky in the pool, walls surround her in daily life, walls prevent movement forward, holding her back. Like he did? Why can’t she do both, work and be his wife?
Rising from her back float and shaking the slime from her ears, Vicky listens.
What’s banging? Can’t be Peter, she thinks, he has a key. And why would he come back? He said he would never return.
Vicky looks about the room, there at the cage, she sees Spike. His tomcat, his mess, his problem. No, her problem now.
“Get away from there,” Vicky shouts, “how did you get in here?”
Spike ignores her as his paws bang the cage trying to get to the birds.
“Augh,” Vicky swims to the edge of the pool and climbs out.
She catches Spike and holds his heavy black and white fat body out away from her so his long fur doesn’t get wet. He growls and meows in protest as his legs kick and his big belly sags.
Vicky shoves him back through the solarium door, “You know you can’t eat my birds, now go.” She bangs the door shut.
Vicky goes back to the pool and floats into the blue. She thinks of Peter and how he deals with Spike. Deals with him, yeah right, he feeds Spike every time he opens his mouth, now he weighs a ton, humph. She sticks her tongue out like a bratty child at the imaginary Peter, like she wanted to do so many times at the children who teased her in school, but knew the teacher would not approve.
Why is this liquid getting colder and bluer? Vicky wonders. Good thing my shell protects me. She remembers the time her classmates laughed because she was the first to sit down during the Spelling Bee. Was it the first time her shell appeared? No, seems like it has always been a part of her. She can’t remember when her shell started growing. But as a small child, she soon learned how to use it, to hide in. Hide from painful hurting words, like his, last night.
Noticing the music again she listens and feels the slow rhythm melt into her. She lays flat in the liquid and lets the music put her into a motionless dead man’s float. Then turning and looking up to the sky, Vicky notices raindrops sporadically hitting the windows like tears falling from her eyes. Salty tears like the ocean splashing her on a summer day. Tears, only slow violin music as this, can bring. She feels those violin strings, those raindrops, those tears.
Standing in the pool with hands shaking, she reaches upward and shouts to the emptiness of the room. “Come back, come back. I need you. Why did you leave?” Dropping her arms and looking down, “Oh, God. If only I’d have reacted differently to his anger; not shout at him to get out.”
At that moment the windows seem to burst open and the rain seems to flood her. Down under the icy cold blue slime she goes. It engulfs her. Motionless Vicky sinks. The pounding of her chest is all she hears.
Bursting up to the surface, gasping for air, Vicky cries hysterically while looking up to the sky. Looking but not seeing, not seeing the rain is stopping, not seeing the sky is getting lighter. Like a child in a tantrum, she slaps the surface of the liquid with her hands over and over, sending cold blue slime everywhere as she screams and screams no distinct words. Shattered to exhaustion, continuous tears flow down her face and she shivers against the side of the pool, broken.
Then, without her noticing, a pink aura appears. It moves closer to her. The slime thins in density as the pink aura touches it. The music intensifies, carrying a rich twinkle of higher notes, but she does not hear. She does not see. Her shell has her wrapped tight inside, protecting her from anything and everything, including herself.
The pink aura gets closer changing the cold blue until it almost reaches her, but it stops, pauses, waits.
Still, she doesn’t notice the change until the heat of the aura touches her and she feels a difference in the liquid’s consistency. With eyes still closed, she turns her head in slow motion, tilting it, trying to comprehend what’s happening. Trance like, Vicky’s mind floats, not thinking, just feeling, feeling the change, the warmth engulfing her. Cocking her ears to the rising pitch of the music, she lifts her head listening, wondering.
Out of the daze, she hears a voice calling her name. A tender caring voice she didn’t expect. The voice softens her shell as the pink aura warms her and Vicky opens her eyes to reality.
“Oh God, you’re here,” her weak voice cracks and her legs collapse under her.
Smiling, Peter pulls Vicky tight into him. “I love you,” he says with a fervent touch of his lips to hers. “You’re my whole world. I need you.” He caresses her wet head and wipes her tears gently with his fingertips. “I’m so sorry for hurting you. I shouldn’t be jealous of your work. Please forgive me.”
Vicky looks up into Peter’s soft golden-brown eyes.
The warm pink aura melts her shell. “Forgive me for kicking you out, I didn’t mean to.”
Vicky submits with happy tears to Peter’s embrace as he lifts her out of the pool. The sun shines through the windows reflecting bright rainbows off the clear water as the restored couple sits in its reflection.