house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Blood-Red Bath

11 May 2012. Birthday time. I want no birthday. Life stretches ahead like a thorny plain of work and irritation. The house will never be finished and we – Nikita and I – scratch and scrub and toil at it without end or reason. You do too, but in a vague and detached state, semi-present, almost transparent. You don't have our hunger and despair, you don't need to. Your job is elsewhere, the provider, without whom we wouldn't be able to finish any of this. You are away so much, so much and so far. When you go, it's like you drop through a black hole: we can't follow, can't reach, can't even imagine you.

But today you're here and – although it's still early in the morning and I'm still half asleep – you wake me with a hug (mmmh!), you remember the birthday (groan!) and you ask me to dinner ('just the two of us!' Huh??) Just a walk then... The day grinds on. I measure and cut what feels like a square mile of plasterboard, I duly inhale all that ghastly white dust, then you remind me of our night out (HUH?). I'm too exhausted to resist: we go. We hold hands (rough hands!) and walk along the Minho like two peasants on a first date. We don't quite know what to say. We go out so little this feels more like going to school in pyjamas than having a romantic evening together.

This, the 22nd birthday of mine you measure. I've now had more birthdays next to you than I've had birthdays without you. Like you say as you kiss the grey hair at my temples, we are growing old together. I feel safe now, warm and in love. I wish you didn't have to go away again.

Back home, the kids are wide awake and tingling with excitement. I can't find my slippers. 'Come with me' – says Nikita and we all file after him, picking our way through the rubble and dust of our endless building site. He leads me to our bathroom. It 's lit up by dozens of little candles, a warm shimmering glow that seems to come from stolen embers of sun. My slippers are there, towels, my bathrobe.

'Remember what you told me?' asks Nikita.

The bath is full, steam hangs above it, and the water is rust-red. It looks like lava or spent blood. It reminds of ritual scenes from old films, where the heroine is about to be flung on a stone altar and stabbed. It's eerie and beautiful.

Months before, when the plumbers hadn't showed up for work and I was tired and cranky I had cried: 'All I want is to have a bath on my birthday! Is that too much to ask?' Now Nikita had sent us away and carried water from our outdoors shower in buckets to fill the bath. Rusty outdoors shower – hence the alarming appearance of this, our first bath in our new home.

First bath together. We jump in – it's the first time we have a bathtub big enough and no taps at either end. It's scalding hot and has a curious stilling effect on us. We stare into space and time, in profound silence, two ivory statues woven together, sitting in a blood-red lagoon. Archeologists will find us, centuries later, and wonder at the soft embrace and underneath, the beating hearts.


At 26 June 2012 at 10:45 , Anonymous Marina Sofia said...

Ce minunata zi de nastere! Ce copii adorabili! Sa iti traiasca familia atit de reusita... cindva o sa iti reuseasca la fel de bine si casa...

At 27 June 2012 at 13:50 , Blogger emwolfem said...

Multumesc MS! Vesti bune: acum putem face baie in casa! Dar vezi cum din adversitate ies si clipe de vis?


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