SIREN SUICIDES excerpt, Draft 5

by Ksenia Anske

Once again, trembling inside and out, yet listening to my boyfriend who says I need to do it, to get feedback from people and get myself out there, I'm posting an excerpt from Draft 5, the very beginning. You can compare it to the excerpt from Draft 4 and let me know which one is better. Hopefully Draft 5 is. With that, on 1, 2, 3... 

Photo by Mr. Naizz


A novel by Ksenia Anske, Draft 5

Chapter 1. Bright's Bathroom.

I chose to die in the bathroom because it’s the only room in the house that can be locked. Besides, water calms me, and I have to be calm to pull the plug on my life. Nothing would irritate my father more than finding the fully clothed corpse of his sixteen-year-old daughter on the morning of her birthday, floating in his beloved antique carved-marble tub. The ridiculous Bright’s family relic, each of its corners held up by one of four sirens, their mouths open in lethal song, their hands upturned in worship of the Siren of Canosa, a bronze faucet figurine. How fitting. Ailen Bright, the deceased, to be guided into the afterlife by a tap. Do you hear me, Papa? This is my morbid joke.  

Six years ago today, on a rainy September morning, my mother jumped off the Aurora Bridge. Something terrible must have happened, because she was afraid of heights. I heard Papa scream at her, heard her run out of their bedroom and slam the front door. I haven’t seen much of mom throughout my childhood, but after that day I’ve lost her forever. For this, and for all the pain he caused me, I want to hurt my father the only way I can, by sending him a message as twisted as his soul. Ending my life in the very place he delivered me, sixteen years ago, on a rainy September morning of 1993.

In some perverted sense as far back as I can remember, four marble sirens and a bronze one gave me more comfort than my parents. Five sisters I never had. While normal girls spent their free time playing outside, I was locked up in the bathroom for punishment, talking to inanimate creatures for hours, having memorized entire passages from Homer’s The Odyssey, calling each siren by her proper name.

Pisinoe, the one with the persuading mind, the youngest of the five. We both want a pet, I like her best for that. Teles, the perfect one, her face cute yet slightly chubby, which makes me like mine better, thank you. Raidne, the one symbolizing improvement, her hair long and curly, envy of my life, because my hair resembles a spaghetti factory explosion on best days, on worst days it’s dubbed “chicken-feathers” by kids at school. Ligeia, the shrill one, perhaps due to her voice. Her perfect breasts were the source of my secret admiration until the day I understood that being called flat-chested is my fate. Yeah.

These are my four marble sisters, their bare bodies protruding from four corners of the tub, their knees on the floor, their arms spread wide as if wings of birds getting ready to fly.

At the head of the tub, long hair covering her body, legs dangling from the rim, sits Siren of Canosa, or Canosa for short. My big bronze sister, the boss. Her left hand holds the faucet, her right arm is raised over her head in a mourning gesture. She’s the main funerary siren who’s supposed to act as a psychopomp, a fancy word for mythological creature whose job is to lead souls of dead people into afterlife, heaven, or hell. Three very nice destinations. Pick your favorite while you hold her hand. Right. But I’m forgetting to count.

Eight. Nine. Ten.

Ten seconds since I took the plunge, stepping into bathtub full of water, wearing my favorite faded jeans and my blue High School hoodie. Blue is my favorite color. Three is my favorite number. It takes three minutes for an average person to drown. Only two minutes and fifty seconds left. I hold my breath.

My clothes balloon in a funny way before getting soaked completely and feel oddly warm and clingy. I close my eyes because the chlorine in the water burns them. Now my nose starts burning too, water making its way up my nostrils as if wanting to drive a nail through my head. I press hands into the sides of the tub to keep myself from floating up. I can’t do this, I can’t. I’m scared. I sit up and gasp, grab my head with both hands to prevent it from spinning. No, to prevent the bathroom around me from spinning. Ok, I can’t tell what’s spinning against what anymore. Water rushes down my face. Wet cotton sticks to my skin in thick soggy layers. Smoking a joint wasn’t enough. Did I absolutely have to drop a tab of acid on top of it? Stupid coward.

The doorknob turns once to the right, then, after a puzzled pause, turns to the right several times again.


“Ailen, is that you in there?” Papa’s voice reaches me as if from some future land that I didn’t think would ever happen. Distorted and unreal, it strikes upon my ears like a knife that has a tricky way of cutting all the way to my heart, then across the abdomen, all the way to my toes. My muscles constrict as if freeze-dried, my heart attempts to beat through layers of ribs, jump on an elevator of fear and explode in my head with a pounding migraine. 

Who else? I want to answer, merely as an automatic response. Because another thought pushes it out. Shit, he shouldn’t be up so early. Damn it. And another thought. I should’ve jumped off the bridge like mom. Why the fuck am I so afraid of heights? Is it genetic? What do I do now? The whole bathroom stinks like weed.

He knocks on the door once. I hold on to my knees, watch early morning light stream through the window, hear footsteps. He’s probably checking my room to make sure it’s not some thief who decided to take a bath in the middle of the night because he got tired of robbing our house.

A few minutes, and he’ll be back.

All at once the impossibility of facing my father, the impossibility of ever getting out of this bathroom in one piece floods me with renewed force. A thousand needles of terror prickle my skin, drive their sharp points deeper, pin my guts until they reach a pool of doom deep inside my soul. Bathroom stops spinning. I reach a place of calm, a moment of soundless emptiness, and decide to try once more. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’ve thought of everything there is to think about while smoking away the night. There is no other way out for me except to die.


This seemed like a good stopping point. What do you guys think, better than Draft 4?

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Siren Suicides excerpt

by Ksenia Anske

At the urging of my boyfriend (who has been literally shouting into my ear today), here is an excerpt from SIREN SUICIDES, 4th draft, 1st Chapter (the very opening):

Photo by Marco Leone

Chapter 1. Bathroom.

I choose to die in the bathroom because it’s the only room in the house that locks. Besides, water calms me down, and I have to be calm to pull the plug on my life. Nothing would irritate Daddy more than finding a fully clothed corpse of his sixteen year old daughter on the morning of her birthday, floating in his beloved antique clawfoot cast iron tub held up by four enameled sirens, ruled by the Siren of Canosa, or, in plain bathroom fixture speak, the bronze gooseneck faucet. How fitting. Ailen Bright, the deceased, to be guided into the after-life by a tap.

It’s not only my birthday today. Today marks six years since Mommy jumped off the Aurora bridge, on that rainy morning on September 9th of 2008. I’m tired of the pain, and it’s all Daddy’s fault. I want to hurt him the only way I can.

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

Twenty seconds since I took the plunge, carefully stepping into the water, wearing my favorite Levis jeans and my violet-blue Garfield high school hoodie. Blue is my favorite color. Three is my favorite number. It takes three minutes for an average person to drown. Only two minutes and forty seconds left. I hold my breath.

“Ailen, you there?” Daddy’s voice comes muffled through two feet of water. Luke warm. Fear jumps into my throat.

Shit, I think, he shouldn’t be up this early! Dammit.

He knocks on the door.

Thirty seconds.

Just two and a half minutes more. I can ignore him. I can do it. I’ll have to think of something to distract myself. Think about Mommy. No, I can’t, it’s too much. I push the thought down. Think about Hunter. There, that’s better. I think about this game we play, Hunter and me. It’s called, have you ever. We usually hang out in the bathroom, because it’s the only room that locks, has a fan and a window. I don’t know what Daddy would do to me if he found out that I smoke weed. Last week when Hunter came over, he pointed to the relief on the bathtub. By then we’d had a couple joints.

“Have you ever met a siren?” He asked.

“This siren?” I kneel on the blue tiles, face to face with the enameled creature. She winked her iron eye at me, I must have been really stoned by then.

“No, not this mythical kind. That’s from the books. No, the real siren, the killer kind. The girl next door. The one whose eyes never sit still. The way she walks, the way she talks, every man wants a piece of her. Every man wants to hear her velvety song, the song to die for. Have you ever met one like that?”

“You’re stoned.” I say.

“No, no, listen.” He sucks in on his joint, agitated. “The real sirens are among us. They’re the women that come out at night, in the fog, and sing. Their voice makes you do things. They command you to come close to her, and then they sing your soul out.”

“And then what?”

“Then they find you dead in the morning. They can’t say what happened. It looks like your heart stopped. They search and can’t find anything, no footprints, nothing. What’s creepy is that you’re smiling. Dead, but smiling. Like you’ve been your happiest just before you died.”


Since my fellow writers tell me I shouldn't post more than 600 words to be protected under the Copyright Law, this is it. Stay tuned for more updates on my progress!

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