Lizbet takes a bath

“I’m going to take a bath in your big bath tub”, Lizbet announced to Kay. It was Wednesday night. Thursday, a family of six was coming to stay. “I’ve always wanted to have a bath in your claw footed tub.”

There would be no peace for the next week as their preparations for a family gathering culminated in an afternoon tea and then a dinner out. It was a two bedroom house and the second bedroom was a child’s bedroom tucked under the slant of the roof. Three of them – nephew, his wife and grandnephew- would occupy this room. They were used to small spaces, coming as they did, from Japan. There was a futon in the cupboard that they could unroll and once it was out of the cupboard, they would have room to hang their clothes.

Lizbet would sleep in the sun room recently refurbished by Kay with a day bed and an orange oriental rug. It was fine for summer but would be to cold and drafty in winter.

Whistler would sleep on the living room couch; the honoured guests would have the big room; and Kay was going to flee to Mrs. Stepford’s place. It might be the only place to find a minute of calm.

Lizbet locked herself behind the very solid panelled door and was blissfully quiet as she read a book, steeping in the hot water. Tomorrow, everything would be shared. There would be no long soak. No long, luxuriating read. There would be cries of “how long are y’gonna be in there?” “are you coming out soon” “can you just pass me my hairbrush?” coming through the door, and “Auntie Lizbet, can I go out in the back yard with the dog?” Ken, the grandnephew was eight now and full of energy.

Kay thought nothing of it that Lizbet was taking her time. It was Lizbet’s way. Anyway, Kay was trying to vacuum the living room floor to rid it of a week’s accumulation of dog hair. The little clumps of it were tenaciously clinging to the rug in curious little black spots.

Kay sighed. There was something wrong with the vacuum cleaner. It seemed to gather the fine black dog hair that Siena-dog was shedding in little black patches and depositing them back onto the rug pile. Where the rug had been a unified blue, it now had polka dot patches all over, a little tipsily, like the patches had been out for a drink before they got organized.

Kay took apart the vacuum hose and cleared it out. She dismantled the filter and gave it a good few flicks with her third finger, watching the fine dust raise in a little cloud and then settle into the waste basket. She put it back together and tested it. The suction had gone. It was a fine time for the vacuum cleaner to quit.

Kay was about to start all over again with the hand vacuum, bending double to the floor to brush and scrub the drunken polka dot marks from the blue rug, but she heard Lizbet call.

“Are you there, Kay?”

“What’s up?”

“Can you bring some old towels? A few of them?”

Lizbet stood at the bathroom door, the door only open a six inch crack. She had a large leaf-green bath towel wrapped her and tied like a sarong just above her bosom. On her head, she was sporting a matching turban that was keeping her curly red hair from dripping.  She peeked out tentatively and the dog who had been laying pensively on guard in front of the bathroom door rose to greet her.

“I’ll have to go up stairs’, Kay replied, doubtfully. There was a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“That’s alright. I can wait,” said LIzbet hovering, not moving from the partially opened door.

Kay climbed the stairs slowly and creakily, “I’ve only got good towels” she muttered under her breath. She’d thrown out all the ragged edged ones when she had moved.

Kay selected two mid-sized towels from the stash under the bathroom counter and returned to Lizbet.

“What do you want them for? What’s happened?” said Kay.

“The drain isn’t connected from under the taps,” she replied. “It didn’t sound quite right and I looked over the edge but couldn’t see anything wrong. Then when I got out I saw what had happened.”

“I took a deep bath. When I got in, the bath water rose, you understand,” said LIzbet.

“Oh, Archimedes!” Kay groaned silently to herself.

“I’ve just figured it out.” Lizbet continued. “When they refurbished the old tub, they only connected the taps and the drain but not the safety drain just below the taps that deals with overspill. There’s no connection at all. When I got in, it raised the level and some water flowed out.

The floor was awash with water. Water had soaked into the hallway carpet.

“I’ll get it. I’ll fix it up,” Lizbet promised; and Kay sighed internally with relief. The next she knew, Kay saw Lizbet sitting on the floor sidling around to the puddles, cleaning around the washbasin pedestal, getting in behind the porcelain fixtures, mopping up water.

What an end to a luxuriating bath! thought Kay. Poor Lizbet!


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