Faulty Taps

A portrait:

Sleep, eyes wide shut, limbs eerily stiff, spread out, palms down.

The camera circles around me, then quivers, flickering.

Something is wrong.

I know this before I should, because this is a dream, this is my dream, this is my own doing. I have written this play for myself and I know how it ends.

Sound infiltrates the lens, a curious tap, tap, tap.

Knock on the door? No.

The sound has a liquid quality to it, a fluidity, a slosh. I hear the hiss of parted air, then the crash, a soft crash, a joyous crash.

A fall. Something falls.

drip. drip. drip.

Not falls- falling.

Falling, falling again and again and again, cartoon that zips back to the top of a cliff each time it jumps: the leap, flatten into two dimensions from impact, then bulge, up you go, again, jump.

I think: listen carefully. I think: this is how you should fall. I think: this is very real.

The sound hisses loud, louder, until every drip seems thunderous, vibrant, until this sound is so opaque, it washes me out of my own dream, and there is only this sound, this terrible, joyous sound of a crash, a suicide.

The drip echoes. It hangs suspended, waiting, blurs out into the next drip, waits again, each drip layering on top of the last one, blooming outwards, louder, louder, and the sound is not liquid anymore but a hard tangible thing, a glass sphere, crashing, crashing, crashing, I wake to screams.

I wake to screams.

I breathe.

I breathe like I have only just started to breathe, like I have never taken in air into my body till this second, like the air is poison and salvation at the same time and I don’t know what to do.

My lungs expand, crinkle like rusted paper.

I hold breath in. I remember.

Dreams surface with filters and edits. Mine come out grayscale.

I remember, a portrait: I sleep wearing clothes I do not own, with a face I do not own, a face that is not a face at all, only a grayish blur of flesh.

Did I dream it this way? I wonder.

I hold breath in, I remember the leaking, the endless leaking, I shiver. Cold washes over me. Not over me, to be precise, but under: cold sweeps under my skin and over my bones and I shiver with an uncontrollable urge to laugh, as if I’m being tickled from the inside.

drip. drip. drip.

My brain insists the dream has significance.

My brain guides my hands over the bones of my ribs, my spine, my knees, checking for a leak. My brain points a snaking finger towards the drip in my chest, it takes this sound and stretches it apart until it’s all I can hear:

drip. drip. drip.

Screams in my head and a leak in my chest and all I can think is that I mustn’t let my breath out, I mustn’t let it leak.

I let out clumsy air, then panic, the leak screams I’m fading, as I breathe, I’m fading, I’m fading.

My brain pulls me up and drags me to the sink, it takes my hand and forces me to push my weight on the tap, as if that will stop the sound in my head and the leak in my chest.

Life trickles out anyway, I’m a faulty tap, leaking, leaking, it’s all I can do, it’s all I do.

drip. drip. drip.

If I listen too long, it’ll drive me crazy.


So just stop, my brain says, all reasonable.

Just stop.

Just stop what?

Stop listening.

drip. drip. drip.

But faulty taps leak, you can pretend you don’t hear the water dripping, but faulty taps still leak, and so I fade.


Don’t I?


If I don’t listen, will I stop fading? If I don’t laugh, will I stop breaking?

Take my advice, it says, with a kindness in its eyes. (Can I see its eyes? Does it have a face? It doesn’t matter.) Don’t breathe too much.

I’ll drip very slow, crack very soft, I say, smile, eyes wide, nodding.

It shrugs.

Maybe they’ll let you leak longer.

. . .

Photo by Anandan Anandan on Unsplash

. . .

To read these pieces in your inbox each week, enter your email in the comments below or let me know at

#writing #mentalillness #shortstory #blogging #mentalhealth #prose #flashfiction #blog #poetry #poem #story #thoughts #life #poems #fiction

Recent Posts

See All


  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • goodreads-512
  • images_edited_edited