Scheherazade had always loved stories. Telling them to her husband Shahryar had at first been exhilarating — now the tedium of it, the stress of it, had grown tiring. So many other women were dead because they had failed to convince Shahryar that they should live — would tonight, she wondered, be her turn?
Could she begin another story after this, one to leave incomplete at the night’s end and so ensure her life for another day? She looked into Shahryar’s eyes, and said:
“River had to write a story. He worked nights on it because he spent half of each day studying, half making money. Bills, River knew, didn’t pay themselves. He was divided: not two-ways, but three. He wrote:
“Troy Packham sits in his parents’ cold, porcelain bathtub. If you listen you can hear him crying — harsh, uneven, staccato. In his right hand he clasps his father’s straight razor, but he can’t bring himself to cut.
“When he finally quietens, Troy climbs out of the tub and says into the mirror, ‘Fuck this shit.’ He walks out of the bathroom. Out of the house. Away from the city.”
“River thought that his story needed more work. A better ending, perhaps. But then so did his studies, so did his contract work. This all had to stop, he decided. He went to kitchen to think over a cup of tea.”
Scheherazade finished her story. The roosters were crowing and the sky brightening. She began no other tale.
“What does it mean?” Shahryar asked.
His wife shrugged, then said, “Love, let me sleep a bit. We can talk later.”