Amber lay back in the bath, her tingling and sweat beaded skin immersed in bubbles and lavender oil. Her long ash blonde hair waved around her head like a mermaid deep under the ocean and only the sound of her ticking heart was heard beneath the surface. She was short but so was her bath so her cold toes dipped out the other end, meanwhile she closed her eyes and listened to the peaceful silence that ebbed and flowed over her face. It was only at this point did she realise how incredibly tired she felt.

It was the early hours of the morning, Amber wasn’t sure what time exactly but definitely gone midnight and probably not far off sunrise. Words were etched on the back of her eyelids from her revision. A jumble of law and politics that continued to give her migraines. All week she’d suffered from flu but there was no holding back if she wanted to pass upcoming exams and ensure she finished her degree. Sleep was alien now. As was good health.

Beneath the water she could hear the faint popping of bubbles. Her head was a whirl of emotions and thoughts but her lips were dry as it had been months since she’d shared these with anyone out loud. No matter where she stood, she felt alone. Her voice was stripped back and her reflection seemed to laugh and point back at her own sorrowful expression. Amber was a shell. Except if you held her against your ear she wouldn’t make a noise. It would be silent with the faintest tinge of sadness and loneliness of all the things she couldn’t say. She chose to be mute. To unpick her burden from all around and to mould into the background. If she had the guts, she would have gone so far as to die but her courage was smaller than her. Only the trickle and cloud of scarlet in the bath would suffice to fill the void of pain.

Amber wondered how long she could lie here until someone would notice. It was a daily question. How long until someone acknowledges my absence? There is no roll call of life and it didn’t feel like there was any point in trying to shout for attention. Far too many were screaming in front of her. She’d lost count the amount of times she’d walked away from help. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she remembered some of the words her Father had told her. “I love you. I’m so proud of you. You have to go on.” Her own inner voice had been replaced with his and this mantra was what held her together, albeit sloppily and with tears and stitches between joints. She missed him so much. The pain was unbearable but now it had become her friend, maybe her closest ally and companion to sit and feel that stabbing sensation of wishing for him to come back.

Eventually it came to her attention that the water had become icy and she must have been there for hours, just enjoying the sensation of her hair gently wafting around her shoulders under the water. This water supported her. Even at her fragile pin weight, she felt heavy and so to feel something else grasp her close was comforting. That day she wore black in the rain and watched her deepest companion burn she walked away from everyone else who could have given her solace. It hurt too much to see their faces. She had to do this alone. The last words she recalled were “goodbye” but muttered just loud enough for the crows at the neighboring graves to hear. Panicked phone calls soon dissipated and eventually they realised that his only daughter was never going to come back. At least, not alive.



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