It hadn't been but thirty minutes or so. There had been no argument, disagreement, or cruel one-way verbal abuse that was so common between us. In fact, when Vanessa shut the door to the bathroom and started running the water the only abnormal thing about it was the door itself, which she so often left unabashedly open to the point that I was certain she would attract a predator other than myself to do her harm, her perfect nudity like blood in the water to dangerous men.
So when the water didn't stop running the bathroom door took on a sinister look that betrayed her wicked plan, and by the time I kicked it in I wasn't surprised to find her dangling there, tip toeing on the tile floor with bent legs like a ballerina frozen in time. She was nude, her dark hair covering her face at the awkward angle that the belt imposed on her neck, and her hands were held together in front of her with elbows bent in a mock prayer that was unnatural looking even to someone that didn't know she discarded her faith as a child. Her pale skin reminded me of my widowed aunt Grace's wedding dress, which hung alone in the guest closet for decades until she passed away. It was even more beautiful there in the darkness, where it's useless futility made the grand garment seem sickeningly sad.
I grabbed her body around the waist and lifted her up, unlatching the belt from the grate in the ceiling, and carried her into the bedroom where I laid her out on the bed. I knew some CPR and had even tried it out on a few drug addict friends when they went bad, but I could tell it was hopeless. She had put on her makeup so carefully, but her lips still seemed dark and blue through the red lipstick, and the shit smeared across my arm proved she had already vacated her bowels. She wouldn't have liked that. She was so clean, and her appearance meant so much to her. There was little doubt that she was very much dead.
I didn't panic. I didn't start wailing and crying, making a racket. People rarely do when there is no one around to impress by it, they just stare silently in mute contemplation. After a couple minutes I went into the bathroom to wash up and I saw it. Vanessa had written in dramatic cliche style in lipstick on the mirror "I am happy". It made me flash back to the first angry message she scrawled across a broken mirror in my old apartment, a distinct contrast to how she had evolved emotionally from when I met her, before I knew her secrets, and long before I slew her demons and took her with me on this long run from our responsibility. She was damaged and volatile then, but became dependent on me in recent months to an extreme that made me feel guilty for fucking her.
In retrospect it was bound to happen. But it still seemed cosmically unfair for her beauty and fragility to be outlasted by my rigid foulness. She rarely drank to excess, almost never swore, and tended to get along with strangers more often than not. And now the only good that was left in my life had slipped through my fingers, leaving the unstompable cockroach to carry on in the filthy gutters alone. I took the time to dress her in one of her favorite cocktail dresses, at least the one I thought she looked best in, but couldn't make it fit right. No doubt they would assume I killed her, and would probably think I kidnapped her after murdering her father. But I was okay with that. She would be exonerated in death, and I would once again shoulder her burdens. I started to pack my things.
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