By The Ephemeral Prosaist
She steps into the bathroom, steam billowing as the door shuts with a click behind her. The light cast from the scattered tapers sending dappled shadows across the walls of the small space. In the breeze of the closing door they danced in greeting.
It wasn’t much certainly, her apartment bathroom, the cream and brown tiles were cracked in some places, but it was clean and it was hers. It was enough. She lifts delicate hands to her hair, pulling it down from its french twist. Its chestnut waves fall to her midback, a riot of strands that echo the trials of the day.
She runs her fingers through the tangled mess before stepping up to the bath, steam, like mists off a secret hidden spring, fill the air around it, making her eyes twinkle with anticipation. The smell of almonds and vanilla ease the tightness in her muscles as she trails her fingers through the water, the familiarity welcoming. She loved her bathtub, huge four footed monstrosity, it held enough water to drown four people or more and cost her a fortune on her water bill.
She didn’t mind, this was her sanctuary. It was worth it.
Letting the robe slide from her arms, it pools in a pile of cotton around her bare feet. She sits on the edge of the tub, the cool porcelain a shock to her skin it ripples goosebumps up her thigh, tightening her flesh. Reaching across the tub she tosses in a few more bath beads, their scent driving away the last vestiges of her day, the memories of what she had done disappearing under a haze of ritualized bliss.
One foot slides in, slowly, the water staining that pale flesh crimson with the heat. Oh…it feels so good. It takes her several moments to grow brave enough to slip her other foot in, sitting on the edge of the tub. Her legs swish idly in the water, mixing the oils from the beads, sending more of that delicious scent up into the air.
‘Heaven.’ she thought, ‘This must be what heaven is like.’
Shivering lightly she sinks down into the water, inch by inch the warm waves lap at her flesh, devouring it into a pool of iridescence, her form barely visible under its surface.
The tub was big enough to sink into up to her neck. She wasn’t that tall to begin with, and that made this tub absolutely perfect. Glistening droplets of water coat her hands as they wipe the steam from her face. There must be an upside to being so short in such a giant world.
Heaven knows it’s not so she could reach the top of the shelves in the kitchen. That’s what the stool is for.
Heat caressed her flesh, ample as it was even at her shortened stature. She ran her hands up her nude form, a shimmering dance of fingers under the surface of the water. Curvaceous, her friends describe it, Voluptuous, Ample, she held her weight well, though it was clear it was there. Her breasts hung buoyant in the water. ‘Too big.’ she thinks, but she had never heard a complaint from anyone about them other than her own inner demons.
Classical Beauty her father used to call her. All nice ways of saying she was overweight, but not obese.
She didn’t truly care, how could she when she was surrounded by such delightful sensations! She pushed her inner demons to the door of her sanctuary. This was her time, this was her Bath and she was going to enjoy it, damnit.
The oil from the bath beads soothed the wind-kissed flesh of her arms and legs. Hands gliding across those as well, rubbing in that healing salve, smiling as her skin went soft once more.
The winters were harsh here, more so than most. She knew of few other places that could send a gust of ice through each and every alley or byway the way this city could. It even rattled the windows of her basement floor apartment, leaving trails of frost upon the glass.
Luckily her Bath took away the traces of it from her skin. Of that she was ever thankful.
She breathed in the steam, letting it fill her lungs with the warmth of the smells. Candle wax lingered just below the bright burst of vanilla as it rode the more mellow sweet almond through the room. Letting her breath out slowly she watched as the steam swirled and danced before her, a three dimensional show, only enhanced by the play of light as it caught it, making it sparkle.
Closing her eyes she sinks below the surface, her hair trailing like night above her before it too becomes waterlogged and sinks into the depths with her. It surrounds her like an inky blackness, the shadows stealing the color from their strands.
She stays under long enough that her lungs begin to struggle against her, her heart rebelling in a slowly increasing panic. Yet her brain says, ‘Just a little longer, just a little more.’ and her body remains still.
The heat grows intense, truly filling her now, surrounding her like a pool of amniotic fluid, like she floats in the sweetly scented womb of some giant goddess. Unnamed and unknowable.
She remains like this for how long she doesn’t know. There is just the here, the now, the thump of her heart and the feeling of peace.
Her lungs force her to the surface once more, breaking the stillness with a gasp. Rivers of water pour over her face, trailing her chestnut hair in limp ringlets. Her heart, beating hard in her chest, reminding her that she was alive.
And she was alive…wasn’t she?
Some days she wasn’t sure. Some days were just like other days, which turned into weeks and months of monotony. Except for her Bath. Once a week she would set aside time between work and social obligations and sink into the steaming hot waters of her primordial home.
It reminded her she didn’t belong here. It reminded her there was something MORE than what she dealt with day in and day out, the gentle blur of life as it passed her by in slowly creeping years. She wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to return, but she would always be watching, waiting for a chance.
Her fingers were like prunes and she couldn’t help but chuckle as the life outside the door began to invade her sanctuary. She had things to do, people to call, work still yet undone. The water was no longer steaming, the candles guttering in their holders. It was time.
Standing, she watches the water sluicing from her body, forming sparkling diamonds upon her pale flesh in the dim light of the candles. Watches them drop back into the cooling pool. Hopes and dreams held by the water; she would return to them next week and remember again.
The towel is soft and warm against her ample flesh, another twisted her hair up high and as she leaves the bathroom, she smiles.
It was enough.