Black Dye 10 by Janae Green

Muddy, a smell like old fruit blackens the sink. The Box-Woman on the Black Dye 10 package smiles. The Upstairs Neighbor thinks about The Box-Woman naked in her apartment alone: one hand grips the shower railing. The basin is slippery with old shampoo and yellowing soap. Her skin droops and forgets where to stretch, but The Box-Woman thinks He might come back. She reaches for her plastic gloves and falls. A black pool rises around her ankles, her shoulders, and the crack in her skull.

The Box-Woman is dead before her body drowns.

Newspapers pile on The Box-Woman’s doorstep. The mailbox is full. Bills and advertisements brown in the sewer grates. Two cats mew at The Mailman from the window.

The Mailman calls it in after the holiday weekend.

The ammonia smell wrinkles The Responding Officer’s face as he sloshes over wet carpet. Feces float in litter boxes. The Responding Officer talks to The Box-Woman behind the bathroom door, but his voice shakes. “The Body is here,” he repeats before he enters, “The Body is here. The Body is here.” He shuts off the shower and calls The Coroner.

When the morgue truck arrives, The Coroner’s Assistant pulls The Body out of the bathtub. The Box-Woman’s skin is slick. She slips from The Assistant’s fingers. He drops her twice. The second time, The Body’s head bangs against the edge of the basin. Black water pours from her mouth and nose. The Corner tells her Assistant to wait in the car. She props The Body onto the toilet seat to drain the water.

The Upstairs Neighbor rinses black dye from her hair.

Janae Green is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Atticus Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Paper Darts, Menacing Hedge, and other online and print literary journals. Follow her @thenaeword on Twitter.