There is a bath before me. A deep, metal beast with carved feet. I've just run it. I am back home, at my dad's place. Mum died yesterday. I travelled all night to get back here, a three hundred mile trip. Doesn't matter, this is where I want to be.
Genie wisps rise gently and crowd the ceiling but there are too many; I always fill the tub too hot. I like to sweat, makes it different from a shower. I never get out and feel refreshed. More my head stumbles a little as blood rockets against gravity and fills my brain. I never take a towel straight away either, just stand naked, sweat and bath water mingling indistinguishably on my flushed skin.
Perched on the edge of the bath are a book and a knife. Don't worry, I know what you're thinking and it's not for that. The plug is broken and the only way to open it is to jam a knife in there and prise the damn thing up. It has been like that for ages, one of those little homely defects that make your house yours. Anyway, it's been blunted from all the years, time worn and spent, so I couldn't cut myself with it.
I can't have a bath without bubbles, ever since I was a little girl. Mum used to skimp on them so I'd run the bath myself and put loads of the stuff in. Mountains would form from nowhere and I'd cut channels in them and imagine valleys with streams trickling at the bottom. I could give myself big breasts like mum or a beard like dad had, before mum made him cut it off.
I climb into the bath and it is really hot. I don't lower myself in, just stand there, adjusting to the heat. I begin to lower myself slowly. The bubbles are a good half a foot higher than the edge of the bath and they rise around me, insubstantial and light. I don't feel them. My sense of touch is overwhelmed by the burning.
I'm squatting now and leaning slightly forward. I immediately pick up a handful of bubbles and push them to my face. They don't stick. How long has it been? What am I doing wrong? This isn't something you forget; riding a bike right? I try again. I don't push my hands so firmly against my face this time. I cup the bubbles and apply them. Some bubbles stay. Most pop and release the air: freedom from captivity.
I've got a beard of bubbles now. My head sinks and my chin touches my chest. I look at my chest, my breasts. I look at my hands, palms up. There are still hundreds of bubbles on them, tiny and sparkling, everyone different but the same. I weep. My tears fall between my hands and straight through the bubbles mingling with the bath water.