"This" ... a short story by @madrobbins #flashfiction


By Madison Robbins

Follow the author on Twitter


“I need to talk.  In person.  Come over,” he said.

“Right now?  It takes me an hour and a half to get there, you know!”

The phone beeps as he hangs up without a reply.  

I flip through my keys until I find the one labeled “TB;” the one that was supposed to be used for emergencies only.  

“Tyler?” I call as I sit my purse on the kitchen counter and make my way through the house.  “Tyler?” I call again, this time raising my voice a little louder.  I walk into his bedroom to find his bed perfectly made, and turn as I hear water coming from his bathroom. 

I push open the door as I peek my head inside.  “Tyler?  Are you okay?” I ask as he stares at the wall across from him, breathing, but still in all other aspects.  He’s fully dressed, as if he just came home from work, with his boots and jeans and work shirt clinging to his skin.  “Tyler…talk to me…what happened?”  I ask, slowly.  No response.  I slide off each of my sandals and pick up the bottom of my dress, lifting one foot and then the other into the tub.  

The water is cool, as if it has been sitting at room temperature for quite some time.  I lower myself into the chill, letting my dress become heavy and the goose bumps on my arms to rise.  My legs are inside of his and he stares into the distance somewhere behind my head as I watch him for any sign of movement.  He takes one deep breath in and lets it out slowly and puts each of my hands in his.  We sit, facing each other with our hands clasped from opposite ends of the tub, with no words or sounds or utterances, until the water has lost all warmth and our skin begins to wrinkle.  

“Tyler, I don’t know what happened but you have to tell me what’s wrong…we can’t just sit here forever.”

He paused before he said, “Thank you.”

“Thank you?  For what?

He smiled and held my hands a little tighter and said, “This.”