Fate in a Filthy Bathtub

This is literally my first short story I've ever written. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea what i"m doing, but I feel like it could be vastly improved still :)


1. Only Chapter

The bathtub should have been cold to the touch as he sat down in it, but his clothes provided a layer of protection. Only his hands and arms made contact with the dry porcelain, chilling him. He laid back and felt oddly comfortable. It was a brief moment of serenity in the sea of anxiousness welling up inside of him. The tub was filthy. There was mildew on the walls, the floor was black with mold, and he knew first hand that the drain was clogged from hair and grime and who knows what else. A fairly humiliating place to have his fate decided, but he didn't want to leave too much of a mess.

He wondered if he should pull the shower curtain closed. Make his own private room in an already too small room. He imagined what it would be like for whoever might find his body. They'd probably notice something was wrong first by the smell. Then when they'd open the bathroom they'd see a shadow behind the curtain, and they'd know in their hearts what happened. But they'd deny it at first, think it was something else, until they pulled back the curtain and saw the unmistakable evidence. He smiled, the drama of it all appealed to him. The smile quickly faded when he saw their face. He didn't want anyone to find him, but it was inevitable.

He kept the curtain open, and placed the revolver on the edge of the bathtub. Six shot barrel. He took the three bullets out of his jeans pocket and lined them up next to the gun. He had thought long and hard about how many bullets he wanted for this. One? Five? Hell, six? No, three was the right number. Three was good. When leaving your fate to chance, might as well give her a fair deal.

He picked up the revolver. It was still heavier than he expected. He opened the cylinder and stared into it. Six empty holes stared back at him. His heart raced as he put the first bullet in the top chamber, the second bullet in the chamber after, the third immediately next. Three neat bullets all in a row, three empty eyes all in a row. He closed his eyes, spun the cylinder and slammed it closed. The piece was set. 

His grip tightened on the gun. For the first time, he felt like he was holding his fate in his own hands. He smiled.

He stared at the barrel and went over his promise to himself one more time. One way or another he was ending his life. A bullet making its way through his skull would give him the peace of death. And if the chamber was empty, he was going to become a changed man. He wasn't going to settle with his boring, depressing existence. That road led him to sit now in this filthy fucking tub. If the chamber was empty he was going to do something about his life, something just as drastic as letting go. He would quit his job, leave the city, maybe even leave the country. Maybe learn to play the ukelele and become a street performer. Perhaps take up wood working and become a carpenter. Or maybe just train hop, skip borders, travel the world. Sell drugs? Who knows. 

Anything. He was killing his old self. He would throw caution to the wind and do something with his life. The risks didn't matter since he was a dead man anyway. He would become a man that would live life to the fullest extent he possibly can. Take every opportunity presented, never say no. Have an adventure until he died again.

He briefly tested the weight of the revolver to see if he could tell where the bullets were, but he couldn't. Good. He didn't want to cheat.  That wasn't the point. He wondered if he should take another last drink, but no. He already had his last drink yesterday. He had his last conversation, his last wank, his last dinner. They all seemed unsatisfying to him. They were all mediocre or a bit worse than normal. Despite the significance, there was nothing special about them. The last drink made him feel just as empty as the thousand before it. Fuck it, he thought, last events are overrated. 

He looked at the walls of the bathtub again. They were so fucking filthy. He didn't really care. In a way, it felt more thematic and appropriate to do it in a dirty tub than a pristine one.

He had wondered long about where the best place to aim was. The last thing he wanted was to fuck it up. Temple, mouth, forehead? Looked at some diagrams to decide. Settled on the side of his head, behind the temple and above the ear. Figured that's where all the important bits were and he couldn't miss.He raised the revolver and pointed it there. His thumb cocked the hammer back.

Fifty / fifty. Either he was going to die, or he was going to change everything.

He paused. His heart raced. He stared straight ahead at the grimy shower head. He thought it was very strange that this would be the last thing he'd see. He knew it didn't matter, any last thing he saw would be disappointing.

He squeezed the trigger.


He let out a muffled cry and lowered the gun. He put his left hand to his face and felt the tears fall down. His body trembled. He felt disappointed, and angry. He forced a smile and he suddenly felt excited. That was it. The moment of truth had passed. Fate has decided that he lives.

The excited turned quickly to dread and tiredness. He already felt fatigued at the concept of starting a new life. He wondered what the fuck was wrong with him. If he wanted to just die he could have done that. He gave himself this possibility. He tried to go back to feeling excited but couldn't. Instead he went back to disappointed. The tears stopped.

He had already made peace with the possibility of death. Death was a much easier choice. It felt more comfortable, now that the moment had passed. But no, he made a promise to himself. He had to stick to his choice.

His mind raced back to the last time he made a major life choice based on chance almost a decade ago. He had just failed out of college and had no prospects in life. He moved back in with his family. Bad idea. It took less than a month before the fear that he had lived with his entire life there caught up to him. When compounded by the disappointment and shame of failing, he felt sub human. Worthless, worse than filth, dirty dirty dirty. He knew he had to move somewhere. He had only two options: move in with his friend in South Carolina, far away, with little support, or move in with his brother in Seattle, close by, technically safer, except when it came to himself. He knew what he was pressured to do and what he wanted to do and couldn't choose.

He flipped a coin and got Seattle. In his heart, when he saw the outcome, he knew it was not what he wanted. But he decided that day to stick to what fate had decreed for him. And that choice eventually led to a decade of desperation culminating in him sitting in this filthy disgusting bathtub right now.

But not again.

He raised the revolver to his head again, pulled the hammer back. After a long hesitation, could have been seconds, could have been minutes, he squeezed the trigger.


He laughed uncontrollably and loudly. He thought to himself, you know, as far as last words go, laughter's a pretty good one. He swiftly pointed the gun a third time at his head, pulled the hammer back, and without hesitation squeezed the trigger. Click.

He stopped laughing as the tears came in full force. He felt bile in the back of his throat and he spit it out. His right arm, still holding the gun, started shaking uncontrollably. He took the gun away from himself with his left hand and put it down.

He had managed to get the one chamber in the revolver that was not only empty, but the subsequent two were empty as well. Initially he gave himself a 50/50 chance, but turned it to a 1 in 6. Not really what he had planned. He stared at the gun. He considered putting it back to his head, but couldn't. Now that he knew the next squeeze would kill him, he couldn't. If he had wanted it to be certain, he'd have jumped off that roof weeks ago. No, this is what he wanted. When the tears finally subsided he stared blankly at the wall. The disappointment wasn't there this time. Only an empty feeling. 

How long he stared at that wall, feeling nothing, thinking even less, he had no idea. The passage of time didn't register until something finally changed. A feeling of excitement crawled up inside of him and stayed there.

"Fine, have it your way" he said aloud with a smile, then stood up and walked out.

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