Black Petals Issue #96, Summer, 2021

A Dip in the Pool
Editor's Page
BP Artists' Page
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Dark Resurrection-Fiction by Michael Hopkins
A Dip in the Pool-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Far Down in the Credits-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Guilt Trip-Fiction by James Flynn
Ky'thagra's Big Day-Fiction by Devin Marcus
Larger Prey-Fiction by Richard Brown
Lover-Fiction by N. G. Leonetti
Sail Away-Fiction by Chris Allyne
Sleeping Again-Fiction by Russ Bickerstaff
The Poison Doorway-Fiction by Dionosio Traverso Jr.
The Tick Bite-Fiction by Robb T. White
Bake Sale Inspiration-Flash Fiction by Samantha Carr
Hotel with Full Amenities-Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
Reincarnation Jeopardy-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Sex Fiend-Flash Fiction by Karen Bayly
Witches' Sabbath-Poem by Mike Collins
Blood-Poem by Mike Collins
Death's Pornography-Poem by Mike Collins
Temptation-Poem by Mike Collins
Painting Light-Poem by Mike Collins
Dark Waltz-Poem by Marilyn Lou Berry
The Last Victim of Vlad the Impaler-Poem by Mehmet Akgonul
The Bravest Ant-Poem by Mehmet Akgonul
Ain't Alien Spores-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Giant Goldfish-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Igopogo-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Megamouth Has Cavities-Poem by Richard Stevenson

Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2021

A Dip in the Pool


Hillary Lyon




“Arlene, what have you done?”

Brendon held court in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. Hands clasped over his burgeoning pot- belly, thinking himself paternal and wise, I’m sure. He nodded towards the dinner-plate sized pool of blood on the floor before him. The blood barely touched the left toe of his new sneakers.

“Aw, that’s not my mess.” I state as I stand defiantly in a super-hero pose. Balled fists on hips, legs solidly apart. Makes me feel empowered. “Must be one of yours.”

“Arlene, you did this.” He waves a hand over the pool, which was now the approximate size of a serving tray. Yes, I think my Aunt Elsa’s sterling silver serving tray would fit exactly in that pool. It was a wedding present she received in 1958, when she married her first husband. The one the family never mentions.

I tiptoe around the pool. Bend over to get a better look. “Damn. It’s getting in the grout,” I say, straightening up. “That’s gonna take some serious scrubbing to get out.” Brendon goes pale. “Don’t worry,” I say as I look him in the eye. “As if I’d expect you to do it. I’ll be the one doing the hard work.” I can’t help but scoff and add, “Like always.”

He drops his arms to his side, obviously relieved. What a baby, always finagling to get out of helping around the house; a trick he honed as a boy, to escape doing chores. His mother gave him his allowance, anyway.

The pool is now the size of a bath towel. I hop up on the counter, sit with my ankles crossed. Have to say, I’m pleased I can still hop up here, like I used to do in high school. Being athletic when you’re young pays off when you start getting old. If you don’t let yourself get soft and sloppy, that is. Brendon looks at me, with his mouth open just the slightest bit. Shocked, I think is the word; no way he could hop up here so easily.

I think I see tears in his eyes. He always cries at the drop of a hat. He was a theater major in college, so I never take the weeping seriously. He cries over TV commercials and Broadway musicals, for God’s sake. I stand up on the counter. I’m petite enough that my head is nowhere near the ceiling. The pool of blood is now the size of a plastic backyard kiddie pool. And maybe about as deep. Is that possible? Looks that way to me.

Like an acrobat, I hold my arms out for balance as I walk, one foot in front of the other, down the length of the kitchen counter. I’m lost in thought, calculating how to jump to the chair pulled out from the dining table. As usual, Brendon interrupts me. Always, always horning in on my private thoughts. “What?” I hiss impatiently.

“Why?” He burbles. “Why . . .” His head droops dramatically.

“Why? Why, I betcha I can jump from this counter to that chair.” I squat and leap and—yes!—nail the landing. Let’s see the flabby Little Prince do that.

The blood pool is now even higher—I reckon about two feet, and covers the entire kitchen area. As kids we used to pretend the floor was covered in bubbling lava, and jump from one piece of furniture to another. Climb up on dressers to get away from certain boiling death. Or maybe play ‘shipwrecked at sea,’ where the bed or chair or desk was a life-saving bit of cargo, floating in shark-infested waters. Now I’m playing ‘blood pool,’ and it’s just as entertaining. Too bad I don’t have a kid to play it with. Maybe someday.

I move from the chair to the table, and sit, legs crossed. How high can this blood tide rise, I wonder. Will it flood the rest of the house? And when it finally recedes, will it stink and draw flies? Probably. Somebody’s gonna have quite the clean up project on her hands; maybe I’ll just call in professionals to it. I deserve a day off.

“Arlene,” he half mutters, half sobs. “I’m done.” He shakes his head, eyes squeezed tight, like he’s in pain or something. Drama queen. What did I ever see in him? It’s a mystery now.

“Done?” This comes out as a giggle. “What have you ever done around here? I’m the doer. You sit around in your underwear, eating barbecue potato chips straight from the bag, watching re-runs of old 1960’s sit-coms. I come home from work, and I have to make dinner, do laundry, clean the house. What you don’t do is look for a job or any way to help out around here.” I stand up on the table; the blood is now swishing around like it’s under the influence of a tidal pull, of a vengeful moon goddess. Maybe it is. The level is almost as high as the table. Brendon splashes his hands in the blood like a baby in a bathtub. If it gets any higher, he’s gonna drown.

“How,” he pouts, “how could you . . . ”  he pulls out the carving knife from his booze bloated belly. The knife has an ivory handle with a fine silver filigree overlay; it’s a thing of beauty. This, too, I inherited from my Aunt Elsa. It was another of the wedding presents she received in 1958. Aunt Elsa only used it once; when and how, well, that’s a puzzler, as no one in the family will talk about it. She left me this among all manner of other things, bless her. We’re so much more alike than anyone realizes; but then, we emerged from the same gene pool, didn’t we?

I become aware of Brendon droning on and on, rudely interrupting my reverie. “You’ve got blood . . .  you . . . your hands . . .” He’s confused now, probably from his extreme exsanguination, but indulges his compulsion to be theatrical about the situation anyway. The boy just can’t help himself. “On you . . . your . . . blood . . . bloody . . .”

My blood? Oh, you silly goose! This isn’t my blood,” I retort, towering over him from my superior position on the kitchen table. I clap my hands, throw my head back and laugh, like I’m the star of my own comedy.  “It’s yours.”

I plop down on the tabletop, pull off one sneaker and sock, and dip my toe in, just to test the waters, so to speak. It’s warm, but rapidly cooling. I give a little kick and send ripples out towards Brendon. As I watch, he sinks under a slight red wave. Bubble, bubble, bye, bye.

I suppose I’ll have to dive in, eventually, and either swim to the safety of the backdoor and the sunshiny world outside this house, or submerge myself, completely, to feel around the floor for the drain. I wonder what manner of creatures dwell in this thick liquid, this crimson darkness, darting to and fro, stalking and devouring each other. I wonder how long I can hold my breath. I wonder where the plug is.

Hillary Lyon is an SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, whose poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She founded and served as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Hillary also writes short stories, and when she’s not writing, she creates illustrations for horror and pulp fiction publications. Having lived in Brazil, France, Canada, and several states in the US, she chose to settle in Tucson, Arizona.

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