The Fall

“Ouch!” Maria yelped, jumping away from the scolding water and into the shower curtain. She grabbed onto the curtain for support, but it only fell to the floor, with her crashing down with it. As she made contact with the ground, she could feel a crack against the tile. She screamed in pain and laid there, her brain throbbing against her skull with every heartbeat.

She couldn’t concentrate on every detail around her, but she could faintly hear the scurrying of footsteps coming up the stairs. She then heard the sliding of socks on the wood floor in her hallway as the person swung around the corner to the upstairs.

The door swung open.

“Are you okay?” she heard a voice. It sounded concerned and panicked, but also indifferent and mellow. It bounced off the walls of the bathroom so that Maria could her every word from every angle.

“Maria, can you hear me?” the voice asked. “I’m calling an ambulance.”

She knew what they were saying, but she couldn’t get the words out. It was as if her mouth was stuck together by sticky caramel. Not stuck enough to be glue, since she could still open it to breathe, but any words that she spoke would be incomprehensible.

She let out a sound. It resembled something that a marine animal would make, a deep, resounding noise that echoed through the bathroom. She could tell the person jolted to attention.

“I’ll be right back,” the person said, running back down the stairs to call medical assistance.

Maria looked back up at the ceiling. She’d been looking at it the whole time, but had never paid too much attention to it. The texture on the ceiling was still too blurry to make out individual bumps, but she could make out large clusters of the “popcorn”. She made another sound.

She started to hear motion from downstairs. Usually, she couldn’t hear anything small enough like footsteps, but her hearing was now amplified

thanks to her fall. It sounded like multiple people, but she couldn’t tell exactly how many it was. She heard another pair of footsteps, this one sounding more harsh and strong-stepped. They were getting closer, and she assumed they were coming up the stairs. Her brain pounded once more, and she fell asleep.

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