It was the bathroom counter all along. Its beautiful, marble exterior swallowed the blood and its language like a devil’s dirty quicksand. For a month, we washed our faces in its sink – and I washed my hands. in it. Oh god, my hands. It was only a week before the blood appeared.
My husband and I fell in love with the place when we walked in. It was beautiful, isolated, and big. It was quiet enough for me to work on my writing and for Anthony to grade papers and draw up lesson plans. The realtor told us it had been entirely renovated since the owner moved out. She told us with a true seller’s smile the house had been in ruins and had required prior maintenance.
But she never told us about the bathroom.
For the first week, the peculiarities were scarce – things that could be explained away, although we often wondered how we managed to misplace the kitchen knives.
Then it happened.
I had a nightmare about monsters in the windows and the Grim Reaper hummed an old song in my ear. I woke up startled and automatically twisted to turn on the lights. I shook upright, and Anthony drowsily asked if I was okay.
“A nightmare,” I said to him curtly and got up to go to the bathroom. Still sleepy, I didn’t notice the blood until I went to wash my hands in the sink. I screamed and panicked, as if I had something to hide. Blood on my hands? No other admission of guilt would seem as real. But I had done nothing! Nervously, I kept scrubbing in sheer panic when Anthony knocked on the door.
“Are you okay, Gabby? What’s wrong? Unlock the door now!”
I hadn’t locked the door. Did I? I dried my hands uneasily on a towel, and opened the bathroom door. I looked at him and saw a man I didn’t marry. I saw a younger man with wild eyes and slicked back hair. I cried out and fell to the floor.
“Am I dreaming? Am I dreaming again?”
“Honey, let’s get you back into bed.”
I saw Anthony then and rose to my feet. I swung my arms around him and whispered, “I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
I trembled into bed, and Anthony wrapped the covers around me.
“You’re so cold,” He whispered and pressed his lips against my forehead.
We fell asleep.
The day went along quietly while Anthony prepared for class, and I sat down to work on my novel. There was a chill and disquiet in the air, but I tried not to pay attention. It was hard though, with a feeling of distrust that began to increase as the hours collapsed on each other. What was he doing in there? Surely there’s not much to do.
Something took over me.
I swung the door to his office open, and the world went black. I heard myself screaming, but I wasn’t opening my mouth. I felt my insides get cold, like ice blew up in my guts. And then I felt a thud as my face scraped against the floor.
I woke up in the hospital, because Anthony said I looked so sick. He only told them I passed out and my skin was cold. He couldn’t feel my pulse. With red eyes, he told me he thought I was dead.
The doctors told him he was probably in such shock that he just missed my pulse, and that I was all right, although it had beenslow and my temperature was had been low.
I didn’t tell him I felt violated by something dark and something angry. I kept feeling this insanity, but I knew I wasn’t crazy; then I’d second guess myself and say well, lunatics never know, right?
After a night of monitoring, I was able to go home.
When we got home, Anthony told me I was accusing him of not “being” Anthony.
“What do you mean?” I sat down on the couch in our still scattered living room and beckoned him once he walked in. He stood instead, putting his keys in his pocket.
“You started screaming that I wasn’t your husband, that I had taken him or something. I don’t get it, Gabby. Are you feeling okay?”
“I’ve been feeling a little funny since we’ve moved it. Nothing else.”
“Well, if this keeps happening, we might have to talk to someone. You know, a professional or something.”
“Don’t you dare pull that shit on me!” I was furious, “A professional, Anthony? Really? You think I’m nuts?”
“Gabby. Gabby, calm down.”
“I am calm! I’m fine. I’m just stressed from the move and everything. It’s all good.”
Anthony’s doubt became clearer then, a concern for both our safeties with tightened lips and wide, avoidant eyes.
I got up and left as quickly as I could. Anthony’s mother had been in a hospital most of her life, so I knew I had to be cautious. He was bound to lock me up sooner or later.
Anthony slept on the couch that night, and I stayed up for hours. I let the moments of darkness linger around me and inside me and—
Everything was too, too dark and I ran into the bathroom and shattered the glass. Anthony came into the bathroom as I screamed and saw the bathroom sink: the counter was coughing up blood and the drain was spouting old, old paper. I hit the ground as Anthony’s frantic attempts to pull me out failed.
“You did this! You made me do this! You demon! You took her.” As if summoned, I rose from the floor and pushed passed him. I felt this manic, deep surge of hatred and lust and confusion. I stormed into the kitchen looking for the knives. It was so dark. I wasn’t used to this house.
Anthony came running into the kitchen and ripped me from the knife I picked out and pulled me outside. We fell down onto the sidewalk with force. He pulled me up, and in a beg:
“Are you okay, Gabby? Oh, Gabby.” He pulled me into his arms, and I felt stunned and disgusted at what I had planned on doing. I fell down on the ground and began to vomit.
In a sweep of scared silence, we both paused for a long moment, and I think we both had tears in our eyes.
“What the hell was that?” My voice was so weak, and I could hardly breathe. He stood facing the house, unsure of what to do.
“I don’t know, Gabby, but we’re going to the police and staying somewhere else for a while.”
We went to the police station and discovered the reputation of the house.
“You don’t know?” one asked. “Forty years ago, a newly wedded couple moved into your house. The house was built specifically for them. Anyway, the husband stabbed the woman and wrote in his suicide note something like ‘the demon didn’t bring her back.’ They say the blood he tried to wash away stayed in the bathroom sink. Everyone knows it here. Everyone has it memorized. How didn’t you get the info?”
It all seemed to make sense then. Or not. It seemed like a big story, and Anthony and I had a hard time believing it. But what else could we think?
We decided not to go back. Miserably, we stayed at a hotel until we figured out what to do. We managed to get an apartment near campus and the house was inevitably demolished, apparently due to termite infestation. Yes. Termites.