Steps from the Edge

“There’s a world in my toilet bowl. Right there, can’t you see?” Clive’s hazel eyes are large and pleading, as if his sanity, the pride of his life he’s been losing slowly the past three years, will be confirmed if only I can agree.

I humour him. “Yes. Stormy skies, right?”

Clive wiggles his eyebrows at me, a rare lucid moment, as he tugs off his red wool socks. “Don’t be silly. Sunny skies. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight; you’ll watch, won’t you?” And there’s the drop again.

I nod obligingly and help him into the shower, settling him gently on the bath bench. His wrinkled skin reminds me of an apple left too long in the sun: brown, haggard, and soft.

He emits a shriek on the drying cycle, high-pitched, like a rabbit caught in a coyote’s locked jaws.

“Clive?” He’s motionless, except for his eyes. They’re rolling, dancing, fighting a battle no one else can see.

Then I see the water.

All around his feet, splashing down, rotating from the toilet like a torrent, the water is black and putrid.

“It’s backed up!” I shriek.

His vision clears, as does the water. I gape at the floor, at my dry socks.

“Amazing,” he says. “You were right about the storm clouds.”

The next day I enter his home. Water everywhere, with the deepest levels near the bathroom. “Clive!” I yell, as I race from room to room. “Where are you?”

Phone in hand, I remember the previous day’s events. I inch to the bathroom, to the toilet, gazing down into the bowl.

I see a world, zoomed in to a tiny town. A thick red sock, matted from rain, lies discarded on the road.

I know the police will never find him.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Emily Clayton
Originally appeared on Microcosms:
http://microcosmsfic.com/2016/06/17/microcosms-24/#comment-8673
Honourable Mention and Community Pick!
http://microcosmsfic.com/2016/06/20/results-microcosms-24/

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