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It Will All Make Sense When You're Older Part 1
It was three in the morning when a weak wail came from the bathroom.
Michael was alone in the dark bedroom. His wife, Danielle, had lain beside him after they had finished their act of love. Now Michael only felt bedsheets when he reached to feel her soft navel. Fear leaked into his brain as the weak wail persisted, and Danielle was not there to soothe him. They had married a few months beforehand and were still deep in the honeymoon stage of their marriage. Other than the routine spar of deciding where to dine, they had had no arguments. The mornings were pleasant and the nights even pleasanter. They did not see each other during the day as both worked at opposite ends of the city. He worked as a nurse at the Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, and she worked as a realtor near Webster. They lived in a leafy apartment complex near the Medical Center.
Michael could no longer ignore it. He slid out of his sheets and picked up the clothes that had been expertly torn off of him hours ago. After slipping on what remained of his corduroy sweater and blue jeans, he slowly approached the bathroom door. The alien sound which had awoken him was becoming more familiar as he came closer, but he could not pin down what it was. Every step he took elevated his heartbeat by unhealthy intervals, and the fear that leaked into his brain flooded the rest of his body. When he was a child, he would always have these moments of anticipation, awaiting a creature of the night to attack him upon opening the door and every time bracing himself for the pounce that never happened. Now it felt queer for him to know that there was definitely something behind the door, but he did not believe it was any of the predators of his imagination.
He gripped the lockless doorknob firmly. His nostrils expanded as he inhaled and let out a resounding phew before turning the knob. He had practiced this breathing technique many times when he was to ask out Danielle years ago. The weak wail was resounded strongly in the cramped bathroom, and Michael’s postulation of what made the sound was proven true when he flipped the switch. In the bathtub was a newborn baby. Michael was at a loss for words. He turned on the extractor to release the overly sweet odor in the air and observed the baby more closely. It looked as if it had been delivered merely minutes ago, as it was coated in waxy vernix and, oddly, blood. The answer to the question of what was behind the door released a floodgate of inquiries in Michael’s head. Why is this baby here? Where is Danielle? What do I do?
Michael walked out of the bathroom to call Danielle. He went to his nightstand where he usually left his phone but could not find it. Thankfully the landline was also on his nightstand. He pulled the home phone from its cradle and dialed Danielle’s number. The call went immediately to her voicemail. He tried again but with the same result. The baby’s persisting cries reminded Michael of its presence. He scooped an armful of bedsheets and returned to the bathroom.
The bedsheets were folded and contoured into a makeshift swaddling blanket. As Michael reached for the baby in the bathtub, he turned his attention to another item of interest; Danielle’s cell phone. It was an iPhone, and it was discolored. He picked up the phone to discover that the discoloration made the device’s black exterior reddish-brown. The surface of the screen, which had went black from lack of battery, felt too rough and a little sticky. Being a medical professional, Michael was familiar with what had contaminated the exterior of Danielle’s phone. This information made him forget the baby in order to fretfully search for a charger. He immediately found one already plugged in in the outlet on Danielle’s side of the bed.
After a few tortuous seconds of booting up, the lock screen materialized with its photo of Michael and Danielle when both sealed their marriage in front of the father. Michael thumbed the image away before his eyes could go blind from tears. He did not know what to look for. There was the possibility that Danielle was forcefully taken away and had been injured while resisting. Michael went to the front door, but no signs of even the most subtle forced entry were found. Nope. Maybe she was on her…and just decided to go do some late night shopping at the local Walmart. This would not be true either, for Danielle was very punctual and prepared for that aspect of womanhood. Then there was the one morbid and undesirable postulation which was worse than any thought Michael could ever have.
However jejune or extravagant the reason was for Danielle’s absence, none could explain the newborn baby in the bathtub. Michael returned to where the phone was charging. He meticulously studied Danielle’s texts from the last few days, then weeks and eventually months. Some small talk with exes here and there discomforted Michael because a few of those conversations had not been too long ago. Danielle had not mentioned any of her past relationships since the days they were dating. A disturbing thought momentarily grasped Michael’s heart. He began looking more closely at her conversations with past lovers. At first glance it seemed like nonchalant nonsense between her and a Kai Reynolds, and in another string of messages (how long had she been communicating with these people?) a Morgan Mortus, a Noah Land, a Herbert Jordan, et cetera. Suddenly, Michael realized he had been on his knees, and his palms were shiny with rivulets of tears. He also realized that the crying had ceased.
Fear and hope intertwined in Michael’s head like fruit in a blender. He got to his feet and briskly walked to the bathroom again. The baby was still in the bathtub but seemed to be asleep. Michael exhaled in dejection. One problem at a time, one problem at a time, he repeated to himself. He looked at the pineapple-themed digital clock (Danielle was a sociopath for pineapples) that hung above the doorway. It read three forty AM. Looking at the makeshift swaddling blanket that sat next to the sink, Michael proceeded to the bathtub and gingerly reached for the baby.
He was on his way out of the apartment with the sleeping baby when a thought crossed his mind. He placed his fragile item on the bed and walked back to Danielle's phone. Swiping away the wedding picture before it even appeared, he went to her photos and videos. He found it immediately. That morbid and undesirable posulation had been confirmed. Despite this he still decided to play the video. Danielle appeared, eyes reddened and sniffling as if she had caught the flu, and with the most sorrowful look Michael had ever seen on her. She shuddered as she exhaled, and then she spoke.
"I don't know why, Michael , but I feel like the biggest piece of **** in the world."
Michael was astonished. Danielle had not shown any signs of this sort of behavior in the past few months since they married. He recalled that he was not very good at detecting other people's emotions, but Danielle was the one person he could read like a book.
"I don't know what's wrong. It's not you, it's not me, maybe it's me, it's not, it's just, I-I-I don't..."
She seemed to be seated and hugging her knees. Her head sank into her arms as she was consumed by another round of tears. One minute passed before her face was visible again. A wavy chill surfed the length of Michael's backbone as his eyes momentarily met Danielle's bloodshot ones in the video. In that miserable face he saw the end of the video come before it happened. Wordlessly, Danielle brought her right wrist to her mouth, and she bit the veins. Her entire right arm flopped to her side, so she had to prop the phone on her thighs so that she could repeat the process with her left wrist. The camera shaked furiously as Danielle's legs limply straightened out. It now faced the ceiling of the bathroom, specifically the part above the bathtub.