Water Water

Water lapped between Callie’s chin and neck, each wave colliding to the beat of her heart. Cold wetness splashed over her head. Callie woke up coughing from her imaginary drowning.

Stumbling to her tiny apartment’s bathroom, Callie splashed her face with water. She leaned on the porcelain sink. Her heart slowed as she dried her face in the mirror.

Over the pink plush towel, Callie studied the purple bags under her eyes. Another broken night of sleep written on her face. Callie climbed beneath her comforter and that’s when she heard it again.

Running water pounded overhead. Her new upstairs neighbor was some kind of clean freak. Late night baths ran every night. Callie didn’t want to be some kind of Karen. She tumbled through solutions in her head.

Splashing continued. The claw foot tubs were a feature of this old house turned to apartments; the rattling plumbing less so. Callie pulled her pillow over her head.

Phone rang. Startled awake, Callie’s head jerked up. She snatched at her work phone, dropped the handset, knocked over her jumbo coffee, and then she banged her knee. The caller hung up.

Limping into the ladies’ room, Callie took off her coffee splashed cardigan. First oversleeping and period cramps, this day couldn’t get worse and yet it did. She tried to rinse out the stains.

Her fingers trembled in the soap and bubbles. Pissed, Callie turned off the faucet. She squeezed her hands to stop the shaking. Suddenly the sound of running water pounded behind her.

Clutching at the jab of pain at her side, Callie sank to the ladies’ room floor. The sound she heard each night. The sound that permeated her nightmares. A sloshing rush of water thundered all around her.

“It sounds like stress,” Dr. Mahoney said without looking up from his tablet. “Promotion, not getting enough sleep. It is more common than you might think to get shaky, falling asleep. Let me prescribe something to help you get some rest.”

Nudging Callie’s soles, water lapped against the bed’s edge in time with the beating of her heart. Turning restlessly Callie stirred in her drugged dream. A steady drip crescendoed into a torrent of running water from every corner of her tiny apartment. Callie’s eyes opened wide.

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