If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know that once a year I offer a 26-sentence long fiction piece written in acrostic form, prepared for a contest but happily shared with you. For this year’s challenge, writers had to begin with the letter C and the first three words, “Cautious as ever…” Each subsequent sentence must begin with the next letter of the alphabet, starting over after Z and ending with B. My entry, which did not place in the contest, is called “Retreat!” I hope you enjoy it. Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. No animals or columnists were harmed in the writing of this story. No pets of any kind reside at the Todd home.
Cautious as ever, I dipped my big toe into the warm bathwater and swirled it around. Delightful bubbles danced across the surface, promising relaxation at last. Easing myself in, I allowed the warmth to envelop my weary body in luxury as I lay back, water to my chin. Fragrances of lavender and lilacs rose to greet my senses, saturating me with feelings of well-being. Gratitude filled my heart at this chance to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Hess’s calming Concerto for Piano and Orchestra released its healing magic from my iPad while candles flickered from the vanity.
I let out a soul-satisfying sigh, then snapped to attention at the sound of a familiar meow. Just as I opened my eyes, a streak of black fur hurdled the side of the tub, and my placid bath became a whirlpool of helicoptering legs, claws, ears, and whiskers. Katie, the shelter cat I’d brought home against my husband Zane’s wishes, had apparently come looking for my companionship, discovered the bathroom door unlatched, and received more than she’d bargained for. Leaping for the edge of the extra-deep tub, Katie lost her footing and slid back into my bathwater where she flailed for freedom. My arms, legs, and torso were immediately covered in bold red scratches. No matter how hard I tried to rescue her, Katie resisted my help and fought like the ferocious beast Zane had insinuated lurked beneath her innocuous exterior.
Opie, our happy-go-lucky beagle, scampered in to see what all the ruckus was about. Panicking even more at the appearance of the dog, Katie lunged for my brand-new yellow shower curtain and clawed her way halfway to the top. Quadragenarian that I am, I managed to scramble to my feet. Reaching for the nearest towel, I struggled to maintain my balance while also calming the yapping canine and the yowling cat. Swoosh! The soothing bath product I’d added to the water had formed a slippery film under my feet and down I went. Unfortunately, Opie decided it was all a fun game and ran off with my towel as I grabbed for the shower curtain, only to have the whole rod crash down onto my head. Visions of stars and cats’ tails circled my face in a dizzying display as the first movement of the concerto reached its crescendo.
With all the grace only a sopping wet feline can muster, Katie leaped out from somewhere in the middle of the fallen curtain and sauntered out the now wide-open bathroom door as though she’d premeditated the entire show. Xanthous billows of curtain fabric enfolded all my limbs, pinning me against the side of the tub. Yellowish dye bled from the fabric, turning the water an obscene color I did not wish to bathe in.
Zane, his eyebrows reaching for his hairline, chose this moment to stick his head through the door and ask if everything was okay.
As humiliated as I felt, I remembered exactly why I’d married this man when he silently untangled the curtain, gallantly offered me a hand out of the tub, and lovingly wrapped me in a fluffy dry towel.
Bubble baths are overrated.