The Bathtub

Staring up at it, it was just so white. You could almost smell that color. She squinted and pulled away her gaze. But she couldn’t escape the glare. The chrome on every crevice of every fixture, on every pull and knob and handle and inscrutable gadget, didn’t help, glowering as if they had impending and pressing things to say. Crossing her arms and holding each shoulder, she shrugged in obstinacy, but really she felt tiny in comparison to this gargantuan gorge of a bathtub. It looked like it hadn’t been used in ages, an old kind of new.

It was time to get ready for dinner.

A guest in someone’s house, and it was time to get ready for dinner.

Taking a step back, the walls only reached higher, the base widening and gleaning with prestige.

In a moment of absolute courage, she stepped inside. Holding her breath, she smoothed her hand over the golden knobs and tentatively applied pressure until glorious, purified spring water burst forth from the showerhead.

At first, it felt like heaven. Maybe this great, big bathtub was a portal, a lead in a new, unchartered direction. Closing her eyes under the stream, everything in her imagination turned white, so that all her memories and thoughts and preoccupations and ideas and dreams and machinations ran together and nothing could escape from anything else. It was easy to forget with white, everything so perfectly pure and clear and, well, white.

In a most devastating turn, she opened her eyes and looked down.

There, taking over her gaze, was all the black, the dark, deep black that spread out from its root and ran all over in the form of persistent, unflinching little hairs sprouting in every direction.

There were hairs everywhere.

They cropped out of her legs and strained toward the walls, the fixtures, the carefully folded linens, and, worse even, the imported soaps. They even threatened to creep into the closet and haunt the assuredly high-thread-count sheets. They marred everything with their sinister curves and dagger-like edges.

She furrowed her brow, placed a single index finger on the edge of the blush shower curtain, tugged it to the side every so slightly, peered out with eyes wide like an insect, and reached her arm out, craning her neck, arm, and torso to make it to the sink where her razor sat. But it was all in vain!

That sink was strategically placed to be inaccessible to quick fixes, to shun a humble, hushed request for convenience. Convenient this was not.

Well, it had to be done. She dashed out with an attempt at nimbleness but water dripped everywhere, not just on the bathmat, but all over the tiled floor and then onto the granite countertops. Yanking the razor out her bag, she jumped back into the bathtub cove as the clock ticked another minute closer to dinner hour. Did that tick seem strangely audible above all of the others? Who could tell. Water streamed.

Despite how large it seemed from the outside, as she set to work with the razor, the walls only closed tighter. Undeterred, she lathered each leg and pulled, pulled pulled, making straight strokes with her accoutrement, an instrument ever so small and delicate to be functioning like a saw. Slowly but surely the fields and meadows sprouting over her limbs began to wash away, and, beneath them, sweet skin greeted its luxe new habitat.

My god, for a moment, mid-labor, she couldn’t help but admire her new camouflage. But it would not last. She began to notice that the water wasn’t draining, instead it was inching higher and higher, clogged by all the hair. It floated around her, clung back to her skin, to the sides of the bathtub, to the shower curtain, to everything. To everything!

Panicked, her stomach muscles clenched and writhed. She worked at double speed, trying to catch up as much hair as she could with the blade. She dunked the razor at intervals to rinse it, but it just lapped up more hairs floating in the residue now rising to her calves. Long hairs, short hairs, thick hairs, thin hairs (oh, that’s a lie, they were all thick!). Smeared with hair, hair was everywhere.

When it was all over, panting, she shut off the water, which now teetered at the edge of the tub. She froze her body as best she could to keep the murky hair soup from spilling out onto the floor.

It was a disaster. How would she get it all to deplete? Would that hostile horizon of water ever recede? Dinner hour loomed as she waded toward the drain in slow, syncopated steps. She would reason with it, coax it to do her bidding, try to make it forget she was a guest in fortresses and bathtubs such as these.

But just as she dipped her hand down into the bowels of hair, the contraption caught her by surprise. When her fingertips were about to graze the shiny, circular crevice, the tub began to drain on its own, not in a slow, creeping manner but rather as though by empirical, methodological choice. It was as if to say,

“Stand clear of the draining hairs, please.”

In the blink of an eye, the water was gone. What remained, of course, were the many, many hairs that now stamped all over the formerly pristine bathtub like a bad decoupage. It was the blood in Macbeth and she was running out of time. Which was worse: frightfully hairy gams with a knee-length dress or that same hair spread out all over the fancy bathtub left as a gift for the hosts? It was no longer clear.

For a full second, a total silence loomed and she startled herself with her own sharp inhale as she darted her eyes to all sides of the tub.

Before she could let out her breath, something strange happened.

Six jets emerged, three on each side of the tub, so seamless in the design that she had not noticed them until now. They jutted out ever so slightly from the walls of the tub, soundless. Before she could really process their sudden appearance, two more propped up around her feet, and then another behind her at the back of the tub.

On beat with her exhale, a stream of soapy bubbles poured out from each jet in all directions, all over the offending areas so marred by her recent foray in the great big bathtub. Bubbles big and small conquered the tub. Continuing in its recent fashion of taking on a life of its own, the tub then proceeded to clean itself. Water soon poured over the bubbles and flowed around the contours of her plebeian feet until it had all drained, and nary a trace of fur or soap remained. Spotless.

A chrome tray emerged from the wall in front of her at eye level, below the showerhead but above the fancy fixtures. All in a row, an assortment of swabs and tips offered themselves up, and, in a gauntlet-like gesture, a pair of tweezers twinkled up at her, daring her to add another few hairs to the mix.

It was arrogant and defied all human refuse. It was such a fancy, shiny bathtub, so much so that it sucked up all of your filth and scrubbed it on out. Oh, not without holding it up first: every dark, dirty morsel of her hair had lingered against the brilliance of the white bathtub.

But then, it was gone.

She gazed at the tray in a mix of stupor and fury. What was there to do but get out, washed as she was of the whole thing? But before pulling each sleek leg out over the tub’s perfectly rounded edges, she reached out with one finger and pushed the tweezers until they spilled out over the edge of the hospitable tray.

And the clock struck.

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