The phone was ringing.
Grey, unfocussed eyes stared out from the mirror. The irises, smeared with red, formed a tight shuddering ring around black and empty pupils. Swollen eyelids hung low over clouded eyes, sweeping in toward the nasal bridge and dangling, purple and bruised below.
He did not blink. The phone kept ringing.
From the mirror, through the early morning haze, loomed a face. Like the eyes the skin was grey, like the eyes was smeared with blotchy red. Like the eyes the mouth turned down, the lips dry and cracked.
He did not blink but raised one trembling hand to his chin, rubbed at ripe stubble. The phone kept ringing.
The hand pulled roughly at gaunt skin, scratched through stubble. Stretched the face. He pulled down hard from coat hanger cheekbones, dragging his mouth into a cartoon frown, pulling the skin around the eyes. Slowly, wet grey eyes rolled down to examine still white teeth, unnaturally bright against the dead flesh around them. He released the skin and it snapped back into place, shaking fingers leaving long white streaks which faded to red, faded to grey.
He did not blink but his head fell back and his eyes moved with it, were stung by sharp twists of hair, a range of an unkempt mane. Dark, damp, shot through with whispering white. The phone kept ringing.
It took an effort to pull the face into focus, oversized pupils sucking in the dim light from the room, the toothpaste speckled mirror, the beaten wooden shelf on which the mirror leaned. The single, spread bristled tooth brush. A voice behind the eyes whispered slowly, each syllable tasted and tested: Who is this?
He did not blink but instead raised one unsteady hand to his neck, twisted his chin toward the light and watched the razor catch the light. The phone kept ringing.
The blade sparkled, a tiny window of light skittered across the surface of the mirror, exposed the blotchy skin, the bruised bags, the almost blue lips. He breathed deep, clutched the handle tight. He felt his hand steady.
The phone stopped ringing.
A spider, frozen in the spotlight cast by the angled razor, stopped dead somewhere behind his head. He stared with weary eyes, watching its reflection. He stood in the vacuous silence, the bathroom suddenly bigger without the phone pressing on his air. He watched the spider, its courage returned, creep across the bathroom wall. He lowered the razor and placed his hand on the mirror, cupping the spider. The spider crept upward toward a damp corner.
The phone had stopped ringing but he held the razor again and dragged it slowly down one cheek. Someone knocked on the front door.
He swapped hands, held the razor in his right hand and dragged it slowly down his left cheek. He hissed, paused and watched a thick, dark bead of blood dribble into the sink. Someone pounded on the door. He turned slightly, staring the length of the corridor from the bathroom, past the open bedroom door toward the frosted glass of his front door. Two fat fists beat at the window, two silhouettes desperate to get in. He rinsed the blood from the razor and held it to his throat.
Someone was yelling through his letterbox.
The razor felt cool, he listened to the drip drip of blood into the faucet, heard it splash as it landed. His cheeks burned, raw. He breathed deep, felt his chest heave, pressed the razor to his neck.
‘Sir?’ the voice was angry, frustrated. ‘Sir!’ The words burst from the letterbox, shattering the rhythmic bleed. ‘Sir! Sir, we need you now.’ He pushed the razor into the flesh beneath his chin and stared at the eyes in the mirror, watched the already inflamed pupils bulge.
‘DS Delphin, sir. Please, open the door.’ Delphin met his eyes in the mirror; saw himself deep inside the cave-like pupils. He sighed, dropped the razor and it clattered into the sink. ‘Sir, there’s been an incident. Please. You have to let us in.’
Why I wrote Disraeli Avenue for charity - The houses on Disraeli Avenue all looked the same, the same shape, the same size but behind each coloured front door there was a story, a secret, a need....
4 years ago