OriginalCulture: “In Isolated Places”


In 2013, OriginalTitle will be presenting her interpretations of contemporary short stories in whatever way such interpretations happen to emerge as a result of the inspiration.  

This week’s featured short story is “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” by J.D. Salinger and can be read here.

I should be with them at the gala.  But I listen to sonatas in minor keys at full volume, drinking in isolated places with regularity and always in the midst thick imaginary melodrama.  It’s a two bottle night.  I won’t be able to drink the full second, I know that at least, but the first just isn’t enough.  Due to the impossibility of opening wine bottles with soaked pruney hands, I’ve uncorked both and placed them next to the lip of the porcelain.   I slink slowly into the past-temperate tub, too hot and already overpopulated by mounds of crystal bubble glaciers.  My entrance displaces the fragile, multi-colored floats, creating steaming valleys.  Surprised by the fact I’m doing something terribly depressing again, even though it’s not surprising in the least, I take a swig of the bottle and laugh through it.  Drips of wine turn pink as they hit the water.

I have this tendency to think I’m being watched in private places.  I’m not trying to think that way, it’s just ingrained in me somehow.  My mother used to scare us into behaving by hinting she had hidden cameras all over the house.  As a result I’ve decided to be exceedingly reckless in my adulthood just to prove that no one is watching.  I thought I could psyche myself out of this mindset, but I’ve proven myself right over and again and can’t seem to stop myself.  Now, I’m just addicted to recklessness.  A wild paranoid propelling myself to the lowest point possible, just to see if anyone will notice and no one ever does.   In all honesty, I enjoy the low points more than anything else.  It’s sick really.

I even left the door open; just to test it one more time.  I sink down until my hair and ears are all tucked way below the surface.  The hum of the hotel vibrates below the water.  I hear the faucet drip slowly into the tub and the water seep past the drain’s seal.  I surface.  Sometimes, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 can make you cry but it wouldn’t matter in the tub.  Water goes in, water goes out and that’s that.  Like a jellyfish.  The water goes in and the water goes out.  Relationships begin, relationships end.  It really doesn’t matter.  It’s not like I’m sad.  I’m more embarrassed.  I shouldn’t have come here.

I packed the dress and put it on.  Everyone else had eyes on me.  I have that effect when I want to.  But he looked at her.  There’s nothing I can do.  It’s over between us.  Ten years and it’s over.

I could end it right here with this razor in the tub and hope he stumbles back with her and finds me here in pinkish sludge, but even then, he’d have her to hold.  He’d be fine and I would be…just as dead as I feel now.

This is pathetic, I’m pathetic.  What did I expect would happen when he came back.  All jazzed up from the lights, the music and the booze.  He’d come in here, see me and what?  He’d probably laugh.  I would.

I take another swig.  One bottle down.  I slip one slippery leg over the edge and dip below the surface again.  I blow all the air out.  I can’t do it, I’m not strong enough.  I lift my head up.  It’s time to go.  But I can’t reach the surface.  It won’t come free, my hair’s stuck in the drain.  I grip it and rip the hair out of the drain.  The panic sets in.  My body starts to convulse.  Water goes in places it shouldn’t.  Lungs moisten.

With continued effort, I break free, clumps of hair between my fingers.  I cough.  Water comes out.  I slide my other leg over the edge and hoist myself over.  My body is weakened but I stand slowly.  I turn to grab a towel.   The door widens.  I spin towards it, but too fast.  The bottles get in the way and the smack of the tub burns my skull.  Before I go, I see the water turn pink.  He stands over me and says my name.  He holds my head together and she dials the phone.  She rubs his back, tries to hold him but his eyes are me.  He’s watching me.

This flash fiction was inspired by the short story of the week.  Read OriginalTitle’s interpretation of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J.D. Salinger at Writer’s Club KL!



2 responses to “OriginalCulture: “In Isolated Places”

    • I agree! I had never heard of this particular short story, but it was a really interesting read. I kind of miss doing this series. I should probably start it back up again. I read so many authors I hadn’t read before and learned a lot that informed my own writing.

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