Scented candles ignite into life, filling the air with wisps of an ambiguous flower aroma as she holds the lit match to the wick. The label proclaims “Rose”, but it’s enigmatic enough to be mistaken for any flower. Red rose petals scatter across the white linened bed, and march neatly, crocodile-file into the bathroom. Malika rises from the corner of the bed, feels the pinch of her new $150 lace bra and knickers as they nip at her body, and shrugs on her thin looks-like-silk-but-isn’t robe. She strides, out of practice, in her black stiletto heels, dug up from a forgotten corner of her closet, part of her armour from a past life, well worn and permanently misshapen, to turn off the bath. He’s clearly not coming.
She perches on the edge of the double bath, swirls the blood-warm water infused with competing bath oils with the tips of her fingers, allowing her mind to catalogue the events that have led her here. She has invested everything she is into tonight, silencing the doubting voices in her head, hoping to ignite a connection. Months ago Malika had sensed that something was not right. Satish had been different, or perhaps indifferent. A distance had crept between them, insinuating itself into their daily lives. Initially she dismissed it, passing it off as Satish being under an enormous strain at work, putting in long hours, being required to work harder, faster, longer. He had been busy, disinterested in her daily squabbles with the children, disengaged when they were together as a family. He had brushed off dinners and parties, like lint from his suit jackets, and after too many embarrassing entries on her own, she stopped accepting invitations. Too afraid of the answer to ask him outright, she has borne the distance between them in silence. Does she really want to know what’s caused this yawning chasm?
Distractedly, she fishes out errant rose petals, and pulls the plug. The coincidence dawns glimmeringly on her as she watches the water swirl in concentric circles, sucked greedily into the drain. The water slurps and schlucks away, carrying with it any hope of rekindling the extinguished fire of their marriage. Her ears prick at the sound of the front door opening, but she doesn’t move.
She hears Satish, his humdrum daily shuffle and drag through the door, a condemned man on his last mile. Was it really so torturous for him?
He finds her in the bathroom, shoes kicked off out of sight, robe wrapped tightly around her, lips pursed. He has always had a sixth sense about where she was, an invisible chord binding them.
“Hey. We need to talk.”
Her heart pounds against her ribs and bile rises in her throat. From the core of her being, she knows what’s coming. She sucks in a sharp breath and steels herself.
“I’ve been seeing a psych. It seems I’m clinically depressed. I need your help.”