Scents of lime and coconut, the former from a candle, the latter from a bottle of bubble bath, swirl together to create a heady, steamy cloak that wraps itself around me, warming my skin, and tickling all my senses. The water is nicely hot, the tub brim-full, the book on the edge waiting to be cracked opened and explored.
But I leave the book alone.
I lean back against the bath pillow, sip from the bottle of cool water, and contemplate what it would be like to swim through the ocean at shark-speed, breaching the surface with the joy of a leaping dolphin. I can swim, of course, but as with all humans, it’s a choppy kind of swimming.
Sometimes I dream of floating in a cradle of seaweed, letting the ocean waves rock me to sleep and then stir me softly into wakefulness, hours later, safely back at home. On windy nights, the sound of the trees turns into the sound of the surf in my over-imaginative brain, and almost – ALMOST – I can feel the water rising and receding.
I soak until the water begins to cool, until my fingers are wrinkled and my skin is pink, and then, as in the famous picture of Aphrodite, I rise from the foam, though my foam is leftover coconut bubbles, and not sea spray, and wrap myself, not in pearls, but a soft cotton towel and white cotton chenille slippers. I rinse the tub. I put on fresh pajamas. I go into the kitchen to make orange juice and raisin toast with melted cheddar.
Later, looking for an image to use in a project, I see a vector illustration entitled “bathtub mermaid,” and I think, “That’s me!”