by Laura Barnes
Brenda and Susan were roommates.
One day, Susan came home with a gaping stab wound in her stomach. She didn’t say where she got it, but presumably, she had been stabbed.
“Well, you really are making a mess!” Brenda huffed good-naturedly, taking Susan’s hand, and guiding her to the sofa. Brenda had actually been tending to her broken ankle before Susan came in, practising the exercises the doctor had given her, but she dropped it all without a second thought upon Susan’s arrival. Susan was Brenda’s roommate, after all, and one of her best friends to boot. It was the least she could do.
“Now, Susan,” Brenda began, her tone serious – but not too serious – as she stitched the wound closed with her First Aid Kit. “I don’t mean to pry, but would you like to tell me where you got this?”
Susan shook her head vigorously - she really really really didn’t want to tell Brenda where she had been stabbed.
“Well, then, okay,” Brenda smiled sadly, “But you know, I’m always here if you want to talk, right?”
Susan nodded – Brenda was always there whenever she wanted to talk.
Knowing that she had done all she could for Susan, and that it was best just to give her some space for now, Brenda pulled herself up from the sofa with a wince, just about ready for bed. Until she noticed the mess, that was...
Blood. So much blood. More blood than Brenda even though the human body could hold. A huge puddle of it dominated the living the living room, framed at either end by collections of slightly smaller, but no less gruesome, droplets. To make matters worse, the blood was dark and discoloured, and would most certainly stain the mahogany floorboards if it wasn’t mopped up pronto.
With another one of her good-natured huffs, Brenda hobbled into the kitchen to fetch the mop.
The next day, Susan was lying down on the sofa, poking at her stitches. Picking at them.
“Honestly!” Brenda said good-naturedly as she spun her ankle in a circle with a wince, “You keep on poking those stitches like that n’ it’ll just open right back up again!”
Susan rolled her eyes.
“It’ll be fine,” she mumbled. “You worry too much.”
“I suppose I do,” Brenda sighed, despite knowing full well she actually worried exactly the correct amount, thank-you-very-much, “Anyway, can I get you anything?”
“A cup of tea would be lovely, please, Brenda,” she looked up from her stomach just long enough to flash Brenda a brief smile, “I really appreciate this.”
“It’s what I’m – ouch - here for, Susan.”
And thus, she hobbled into the kitchen.
This excruciating trip proved to be futile, however; the moment Brenda stepped back into the living room, the steaming cup of tea slipped out of her grip and smashed into a thousand pieces. There, in the centre of the room, lay Susan, curled up in an almost foetal position. The wound had re-opened.
Freshly boiled tea seared her toes and shards of porcelain became lodged under her feet, but that didn’t stop Brenda from running towards her roommate.
“Susan!” Brenda cried as she grabbed her friend’s hand and gently pulled her back onto the sofa, “Why, oh why did you keep on…” she paused, looking for the right word, “…Fiddling with it?!”
“Was… Itchy…” Susan shrugged through the pain.
This time, Brenda’s huff was not good-natured, not good-natured at all. In fact, her huff was actually rather bad-natured, as she limped to fetch the First Aid Kit, the mop, and the dustpan.
Thankfully, Brenda’s short spell of grumpiness did not last long. After being patched up once again and given strict instructions not to pick at the wound, Susan became a model patient and eventually – like all things – the wound began to heal. Sure, she’d be left with a nasty scar on her belly, but it was hardly like Susan to go around wearing crop tops anyway. Soon enough, Susan returned to work, Brenda’s ankle healed, the mahogany floor was clean, and life resumed as normal.
It was a peaceful few weeks, filled with uneventful days.
Fifteen uneventful days after the ~incident~ - as Brenda and Susan referred to it – Brenda returned from work with a grin even wider than Susan’s scar, looking happier than anyone in a grey pantsuit ever should.
“Susan, Susan!” Brenda cried as she burst through the door, brandishing a letter, “You’ll never guess what!”
Which was true – Susan never did guess what. Or at least, if she did, Brenda never had the opportunity to hear the answer. You see, Brenda had not looked before running into the living room, and slipped on yet another, unnoticed puddle of blood. She cracked her head open and tragically died. Dancing in the air behind her was the letter she had been oh-so excited about back when she was amongst the living. As it hit the ground, the words ‘We Would Be Thrilled To Offer You The Promotion’ were quickly swallowed up by the blood.
“What’s happ- oh, no!” Susan exclaimed, raising her arms in exasperation before reaching down to check Brenda’s pulse, “Brenda, you’re dead!”
Brenda didn’t reply – she was too dead.
“Why, oh why didn’t I mop up that blood straight after I’d stop bleeding?!”
Brenda didn’t reply – still too dead.
“Why, oh why, did I keep on going to those “Who Can Survive The Most Stab Wounds?’ competitions she disapproved so much of?!”
With a long, drawn-out sigh – Susan was never really a ‘huff’ sort of person – Susan went to fetch the mop. It looked like she’d have to clean this mess up by herself.