My Wife Thinks She’s a Mermaid..
“Dad, mom won’t get out the bath.” My 8-year-old son Lucas informed me with relative calmness as he came down stairs for breakfast.
“Oh?” I raised an eyebrow in curiosity, an odd statement I thought, but he didn’t seem distressed. It was more like he was making an off handed comment.
“Yeah, she’s just in there, I think she’s asleep again.” He explained as he sat down at the table with an exasperated huff, I could tell the poor kid was fed up and I couldn’t blame him. His mother, my heavenly wife, was known to pull stunts like this. She suffers from bipolar disorder and when she doesn’t take her medication and comes down from a high, she comes down hard, which takes it’s toll on all of us. It gets difficult to explain why mommy doesn’t want to come down stairs, or why she’s always the one to make an embarrassing scene at school events, without upsetting the kids but I do the best I can.
Now while I do love her endlessly, I also have to admit that it’s tiring to deal with and, since it’s not uncommon for her to pick a part of the house and refuse to move from it for days on end, I wasn’t really concerned either. The only unusual thing is that she would usually choose the bed or the couch as her spot, you know, somewhere comfortable. Though I guess I wouldn’t put it past her to decide on the bathtub either. “Alright, thanks for letting me know Champ, I’ll go get her, you just eat your breakfast and keep an eye on Lucy for me okay?” I instructed and gestured to where his little sister sat in her highchair mashing food around her bowl.
“Okay.” He answered simply, he was pretty used to looking after her when my wife wouldn’t and when I wasn’t home. If I’m honest I always felt a twinge of guilt over it but there was little I could do.
I made my way upstairs to our bathroom to where I could hear my wife singing, well more humming really, from the bathroom. It wasn’t a tune I knew, though it was melodic and had a hauntingly beautiful quality to it. I smiled softly to myself hearing her, of course she was singing, maybe she was having a good day after all? Upon reaching the bathroom I knocked lightly on the door before opening it as she answered cheerfully, “Commme~ Innn~!”
“Hey pumpkin, what are.. What are you doing?” I asked cautiously, unsure that I really wanted to know the answer as I examined the scene before me.
There were bottles of various soaps thrown all around, their contents strewn about the walls and ceiling creating a mosaique splat of goo, and the bath mat seemed to be missing from the room entirely. The towel rack hung broken beside the bathtub where it had smashed the tiles as it fell, which in turn meant that there was tile shards and sprinkles of plaster coating the floor. All this chaos while my wife sat in the bathtub quite happily. She smiled up at me as she rested against the back of the tub with her torso and head out of the water. She was, naturally, also completely naked except for a drenched towel that covered her lower half.
“I’m a mermaid now!” She announced proudly and flopped her legs about under the towel as if they were joined.
“Ahh, I can see that.” I agreed as I caught on that the she’d probably placed the towel there to represent her ‘mermaid tail’.
“Do want to join me? You can be a merman, it’ll be so much fun~” she tried to coax me.
“I mean it sounds good, but don’t you want to come down and see Lucas and Lucy? I bet they’d love to see you.” I suggested gently trying to convince her.
“No.” She said firmly and then continued in a sweet voice, “I don’t want to, I can see them later, just come play. The water is really nice~” my wife insisted.
I gave a small sigh, rubbing my hand over my face, “Anja, sweetheart.. Have you been taking your medicine..?” I asked as neutrally as I could.
With my question her smile quickly turned to a scowl and she sneered, “You don’t believe me. You Never know how to have Any fun anymore! You’re So closed off! You’re always trying to put me down. Go away, I don’t want you in here! Go Away!” she shouted, thrashing and splashing water at me as she screamed. She was making quite a ruckus and I was worried the neighbours might here so I backed out of the room respectfully. I could tell that she obviously hadn’t been taking her medications and that nothing I could say was going to get through to her while she was in this state, so I made the decision that I would get Lucas off to school and call my parents to see if they could watch over the kids for a couple of days while I dealt with her mood.
Thankfully my parents were more than happy to look after their grandchildren and, judging by the look on their faces when they came to pick up Lucas and Lucy, they probably understood that the reason they were needed was related to Anja. With the kids gone I spent the entire rest of the day trying to convince my wife to come out of the bath. For the most part she ignored my pleading and instead just continued to sing to herself, even going as far as to get louder when I would try to speak.
In a way her humming was useful since I could hear it from anywhere in the house it meant that I could move about fairly freely and still know that she was okay in the tub. When I thought she’d calmed down a bit I attempted to talk to her again, “Anja.. I made you some food. Do you want to give it a go..?” I asked softly as I carefully reentered the room. She ignored my question and my presence at first, folding her arms and continuing to hum so I prompted again, “It’s your favourite, salmon with garlic and ginger~”
This at least got a response, she turned to me slightly and then growled, “I’m a Mermaid. I can’t eat fish! Are you Crazy!?” She yelled again and I realised my mistake.
“Oh yeah, right, sorry.” I apologised quickly and removed the dish from her sight. After that I resolved to try another tactic, “Honey, don’t you want to get out a moment so that we can change the water? It’s getting cold by now isn’t it..?”
“I don’t care. I like it cold.” She answered bluntly leaving me dumbfounded, I had never considered that she’d actually want to stay in cold water. Out of other ideas I settled on turning up the heating in the home in hopes of keeping her warm and left her to splash about and sing to herself.
The following day I came to check on her early, I knew she was still okay because she was still singing, but I wasn’t prepared for the odour that would hit me when I came into the room. I realised fairly quickly that she had relieved herself in the bathtub rather than leave the water and the stench was enough to make me gag. At this point I resorted to begging her to get out of the bath, at least to allow me to change the water but she outrightly refused. When I tried to remove her forcefully she kicked, scratched and even bit me making it impossible for me get her out. So in the filth she remained, she called it the ‘essence of a mermaid’. I can say without any guilt that I was about ready to give up then and there.
Now I know this next part will sound stupid of me, but I just want you to know that everything ended up fine and that the smell was too much for any man to endure, so I left her alone for 10 minutes while I raced down to the store to buy some air fresheners. If she wasn’t going to let me get rid of the putrid water I had at least hoped against hope that she’d allow me to hang air fresheners around the place. When I returned home, as I said, she was fine. Still happily humming away to self as she marinated in squaller and I was quick to hang up the air purifiers, her smell was by now perforating the house. It’s a wonder the neighbours didn’t get a whiff.
I fell asleep that night inadvertently from exhaustion while listening to her melody and breathing in the sweet, calming, scent of vanilla. When I woke the next morning I rushed to check on her, I’d forgotten about her when I fell asleep and panic gripped me. I raced to the bathroom and found, to my relief, that she was still generally alright. Her skin was getting a little blotchy from the cold despite having the room heated and when I touched her hand I was horrified that some of the skin had just slopped off.
Yelping in surprise I recoiled but she didn’t seem to mind, “It’s okay, I have to lose my human skin to become a full mermaid.” She assured me with an unsettling smile.
“O-Oh, of course, yeah.” I agreed quickly not wanting to send her into another rage. Honestly I thought if she moved about too much, like she might if she got mad and started thrashing, that all her skin would fall off her limbs like a cheap costume. It was in those moments that I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t continue the gentle ‘wait for her to come out of it’ approach any more.
I decided to call in her psychiatrist, Samantha. It was my hope that she’d be able to convince my wife to get out of the tub and once I’d explained the urgency of the situation she agreed to come over as soon as she could. I paced back and fourth as I waited and met her anxiously at the door. When I opened it wafting aromas of faeces and vanilla hit her square in the face and she scrunched her nose. “I know, I’m sorry, it’s Anja. I tried to mask it.” I apologised quickly.
“Where is she?” She asked with a nod of understanding.
“Up stairs, first door on your left, can’t miss it. Just follow the singing.” I instructed.
Samantha gave me a strange look when I said this, her expression was somewhere between confusion and uncertainty though she didn’t say anything else as she headed upstairs to find my wife. She probably didn’t believe me, it did sound a little outlandish if I’m honest with myself and I trailed after her anxiously. It’s fair to say the days past had really taken their tole on me and I was by now little more than a nervous wreck, but I wanted to be there when Samantha confronted my wife about her delusions.
When we reached the bathroom Samantha pushed the door open slowly and softly called my wife’s name. The seconds after passed tensely as she received no response and I saw her eyes grow wide as she covered her mouth with a trembling hand. I could tell she was entering into shock, “I know, maybe I shouldn’t have left it this long to call you, but she was so insistent on staying in the tub. Can you help her..?” I confessed and asked uncertainly.
“H-Help her?” She stammered turning to me her expression relaying both disbelief and horror. I could see that behind her eyes her thoughts were travelling at a million miles an hour as she tried to catch up to what she was seeing and something in her mannerisms got to me and I began panic. My heart began to thump heavily inside my chest, it seemed like the world was suddenly spinning more slowly and as gravity crushed down on me I realised that Anja was silent for the first time in days.
Frantic I pushed past Samantha to gain entry into the room where I saw for the first time the truth. The room was destroyed, signs of a struggle were evident everywhere I looked and my wife was there, motionless and decaying in the bath. She was half submerged in the water leaning back against the tub edge, her eyes were glazed over and she stared at me lifelessly. The water around her had putrefied, she had dark marks on her throat and her skin was swollen with liquid.
Slowly the realisation dawned on me that she had been dead for days and I swallowed hard as I looked over my own body, the scratches on my arms.. the bruises, the bite marks.. She had tried to fight..
Edit: Since people are asking for some added context this was a statement given by Eugene Howard after his wife was discovered dead in the family bathtub. She had been dead in the house decaying for days and it is suggested that Mr. Howard suffered a mental break after the murder and imagined the entire 3 days. His wife was never alive for the duration of that time.