Could you help me? I wasn’t supposed to take a bath when Bert was out of the bungalow but whenever I asked him to help he always complained that I should use the shower, as he did. “Great White Whale” was one of the kindest names he called me.
I put in plenty of water and a generous dollop of bath essence and stepped in carefully, holding onto the handle on the wall. Then I lowered myself down – with the usual splash as my backside hit the protective mat.
The water was warm and soothing as, leaning back, I braced myself for the cold enamel surface and then closed my eyes and let my legs stretch out. The scented bubbles hid most of my wrinkled body but I had to frown at the pale pink mound that was my stomach. This was more than middle-aged spread. This was old woman’s flabbiness.
I lifted my feet out of the water and looked at my toes. The nails were yellow and rough. I needed to see someone about them.
I was getting cool so I bent forward to add more hot water. Then, taking the soap from the dish I began to wash myself, slowly and deliberately, enjoying the peace and relaxation.
It was when I looked up to add more water that I noticed something strange about the cold tap. It seemed to be smoking. A thin wisp of white mist was rising from the mouth of the tap and there was a peculiar metallic smell in the air.
I watched as the smoke rose, curling towards the ceiling, hoping it would stop – but another puff emerged and headed upwards.
I was afraid to lean forwards and turn the tap. Instead, I pulled my legs in, raising my knees, and waited for the mystery to resolve itself.