Eileen

By Brenna Gomez

My wife disappeared right before my eyes on the last night of our honeymoon—we hadn’t even made love yet, I’d forgotten to make the hotel reservations and so we had to stay in hostels making our way across Europe, but then at the end, I blew a full half of our budget on a fancy hotel—she just wanted to take a bath first, she said, and I understood this, we were grimy from the train and greasy sausage the Irish eat for their heavy breakfasts, the kind of breakfasts that sit in your stomach until early evening and even then you have to walk miles around the city for them to work their way out, my wife, Eileen, with her short brown hair and impressive dimples, we sipped cheap whiskey from the market down the road in hotel glasses that were awkward in our small hands and I took photos of her lounging in the fancy bathtub, each curve of her body awash in soft light from the desperately late sunsets this far north, she smiled and laughed and posed and sipped, and I maybe felt the most alive I’ve ever felt, but then her face changed—a flash of annoyance or pain like when I jab my elbow under her rib at night when she snores—and the water in the tub began to drain and swirl, and it was then that Eileen’s face blurred for just a moment, the strangest moment of my life: my wife looking me in the eye with concern and confusion and just for a second something like a wicked bit of fun and she dissolved, her body a mess of dots churning at the bottom of the tub before disappearing down the drain with a harsh gurgle; I sat on the toilet for a very long time before I drank my whiskey and then hers—she’d set the glass on the edge of the tub closest to the wall, I hadn’t yet appreciated the deep blue of the bathroom tile, my wife’s loveliness often did that, rarely did I see anything but her, even if I was standing in front of the most breathtaking waterfall, it was just her for me, always, but now that she had gone I crawled into the tub and fished my fingers into the drain, not sure what I expected to find—there was nothing but a dark clump of hair, probably from the last people who’d used the room and I peered down into the hole and sometimes if I looked hard enough I thought I could see a faint purple light, but when I called for her Eileen wasn’t there, I called her name again and again, my mouth right on the drain so it would carry my voice down into the pipes if that’s even where she was and I woke there in the tub the next morning, slightly damp, spent days trying to recreate exactly what happened so I could follow her, but I would never be as beautiful as Eileen, my hair was too long and tangled, I could never arch my back just right or lift my hips just so, I mostly drank whiskey alone and woke up when my nose slipped under the water; I finally started telling people that Eileen walked out on me on the last night of our honeymoon because there was no way to explain this disaster that had become my life, and now when I travel for work, I take a bath in every hotel around the world, first peering down the drain and looking for that purple light, hoping that if I drink the perfect amount of whiskey at the right moment of sunset then I too will become a blur amid a sea of dots and follow Eileen down to the end of this Earth or the next one.



Brenna Gomez's fiction has appeared in Prairie Schooner, StoryQuarterly, Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume 5, and  The Dark Magazine; she received a Hedgebrook residency in nonfiction in 2017. 


Image by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

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