He had the bottle of pills on the side of the tub. There was a small puddle of warm water around it, surrounding the orange plastic as condensation slowly dripped onto the porcelain. He hadn't touched it yet. Not even reached out to move it. But he didn't know why. He should have put it on the ground, knocked it off the edge, pushed it away so he couldn't reach them or even reach for them.
He didn't. They sat there, almost watching him, as slowly, so slowly, Kenneth soaked in the warm bathtub. His grandparents had insisted on it. They didn't want him taking showers. They were so worried for him. And all he could do was eat their food, use their water, take up space. So many farmhands came in and out. They stopped in the kitchen, stared at him on the couch, some sneered and others just… walked through. He felt invisible when they did that. Worse than invisible, because they had no reason to notice him.
His fingers had reached for the pill on their own. The bottle was warm in his hand, they were more comforting than he'd thought. Somehow he'd thought they would be cold. He didn't know why. But they weren't, the plastic was hard and warm in his palm as he lifted it to read the label. He'd read a hundred times before, every night as he refused to take them. Sometimes it even put him to sleep, let him rest.
The pills he spilled into his hand were white and circular. One fell into the water, dissolving into a circle of slightly whitish water before disappearing entirely. It was almost peaceful. His eyes drifted closed for a moment as his fist closed on the hard discs of medication, though even they began to powder in his hand. Nothing around him could stand up to him. It was an odd thought, a quiet thought. His grandparents were crumbling, his friendships hadn't lasted. They ended with death, they ended with silence, they ended because he didn't know what he was doing.
Another moment of thought, wondering why he hadn't called anyone, spoken to anyone. But it was so simple, really. He'd been useless for years by then, even since his mother had chosen him. His brother, dear older brother, hadn't even remembered him. Just smiled at him and asked about the new person, the different person. That had hurt, had brought silent tears to his eyes. It hadn't been that long, couldn't have been that long since they'd seen each other. But he'd changed so much and his brother hadn't. He was still a child and Kenneth was no longer. They hadn't let him see his sisters. They'd said he might scare them, being a new person and so unusual. But he'd heard them through one of the walls, listened to them babble and wondered why no one around him changed and yet he couldn't seem to stay the same.
Vin had said not to die…. But that had been then. That had been because of the wish. His friend, sort of friend, his best friend, hadn't wanted him to make the wish. And he hadn't made the wish. He'd tucked it away and ignored it and promised his grandparents he'd get to it later, later, always later, but the brochures were still sitting in his nightstand rather than being read. Because what if God had made him? What if he'd been meant to stay with his mother, to support her as she tried to figure out her life. Maybe he would have understood then.
And, slowly, he found another reason. He wanted his mom back. She'd been gone so long. 10 years of nothing but silence and pain, all free of her and that seemed the only cause sometimes.
The first pill he swallowed didn't taste like anything, the steamy air giving him the moisture he needed to swallow the second without even a sip of warm water. The third and fourth were harder as his eyes began to drift shut. It wasn't the pills making him sleepy, but it would have been hard to prove.
The last pill he took was the fifth, swallowing it down with a small sip of cold water before tilting his head back. Warm water lapped around the edge of his face, brushing his cheeks and forehead. The fine fuzz of his hair felt so heavy. There was water just barely seeping along the edges of his eyes, drawing the lids shut against the warm liquid invasion.
His eyes never opened as he slowly began to sink beneath the water, beneath the tiny swellings and waves of the bathtub. It was warm, so warm, as he slept.