A New Day by William Gray Tait

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A New Day by William Gray Tait
Illustration by Sue Babcock

Sarah sits in her bathroom clenching a razor blade, her head down between her knees, talking herself back off the ledge of despair. She focuses herself inward, blocking out all external distractions, yet she hears the children playing outside the window. She walks over to her alcove bathtub and she turns the faucet on, hoping the soothing sound of running water will drown them out.

She looks around her bathroom for comfort, as though answers somehow rest within the décor. Two of the four light bulbs above the Venetian have burned out. She remembers choosing that mirror. It was by far her favorite. She was so passionate about her selection, and her husband adored her vivaciousness. Now times have changed. The old, withered woman drops her head and she stares intently down at the sink as two cockroaches courageously crawl in her direction. She tries to take comfort in knowing God continues to bless even them with life.

The tub is filling to capacity, yet Sarah hesitates to turn the faucet off. She undresses herself at a pace her frail limbs will allow, examining her broken body with each garment she removes. She reflects upon taking those Halcion pills not ten minutes earlier, her final dignified solution to curing an incurable sickness, and she is content she was correct. However, her confidence is unable to quell the harsh mocking inside her head now matching in perfect rhythm to the laughing children outside. It’s as though her life has come alive, tearing her into two equal yet totally unequal parts.

The sun, once beating down her window, is now drowned out. The thick, blue skies have blotted themselves out from within. The air stands cold and dark, shifting with each successively stronger gust of wind. She surveys the line of sight out of her window and, at last, sees her children, now belonging to another woman who will raise them after she dies. They are perfectly identifiable, yet no longer carrying names. They no longer have faces. They run after each other with no fear, with no feeling, and with no expression. The woman has stolen their souls, and Sarah hates her for it.

Sarah finally turns off the water, slightly draining it to accommodate her incoming mass. Even now she holds on to hope, waiting for the man in the next room over, a stranger she once knew so well, to help her through this final step. Yet the door does not open.

Please give me back my family! Her heart begs. Bring this decaying body back to life! Make me feel beautiful one last time. Give me that chance. Give me once more subtle glance. Touch me! Brush up against me, even if by accident. Tell me you love me for me, for what I am now, or even for who I once was. I no longer care that I am dying. Just help me reach the inevitable with grace.

Sarah leans back in the tub, her nose dipping below the crimson waterline. Her heart prays into the darkening silence as she lets go of all hope and life.


Bio: William Gray Tait is a freelance writer living in Dallas, TX where he is currently working on finishing his first novel.