Twelve candles held vigil over the bath’s entrance. Steam and smoke dance across the top of the day’s end, flirting with the small lights’ reflections as two more flames sat level with my eyes, fluttering away as secrets upon butterflies’ wings. The nights soft piano-ed highlights skipped from one wisp to another showing neither bias nor preference as to the nature of its carrier.
The day wore heavy upon my shoulders, the grime of its war paint smeared upon my face long after the sun had set to the vocalization chanting of some fighter’s personal training session. The moonless night bode ill for me as the strange sickness of spirit sunk its claws ever so slowly deeper.
I slipped from my garments in a clumsy fluidity brought on by exhaustion and a waning heart. The water felt like it would boil me alive as I submerged myself within it, the salts slowly drew out the dull aches as the swirled about my limbs. My mind was empty, I felt nothing but the heat upon my skin, burning the day away, gentle yet demandingly abrasive in its osmotic nature.
Time passed immeasurable as the day was absorbed into the water, slewing slowly away from me to the edges of the water. Suddenly, I felt like I was dying, the air was too dense, the water scalding, the smoke suffocating despite the cool night’s breeze. I emptied the tray of ice from the freezer that had been waiting for me. Why I had brought it with me at all I couldn’t remember, in fact, I did not remember going to the kitchen though I knew I had… sometime before the bath…
Watched the ice turn transparent as various pieces sublimated and others melted, a few small pieces lasting long enough to kiss my skin with an almost minty touch before dissolving. Then, my senses were lost as the water and I equalized one another to the same temperature.
Spent and emptied, I lay there, my head against the cool pale ceramic, my fingertips gently reviving forgotten caresses upon the numbed length of my skin, unbidden. Tears fell amidst those long possessed touches, thankful tears at the memory those caresses held against me. Undemanding, un-seeking touches, blissful memories and re-memories. The dark chalice within whispering of curses and blessings the future might hold.
The physical senses were starting to seep back in and with them the foggy realization that I was not alone in the small smoky room. The cat sat staring through me, as cats tend to, regal in her own demure little way, her eyes wide and gleaming with stolen candle light. Those great wide eyes accused me of terrible things, as if I were contemplating the birth of the Apocalypse itself.
So I considered it, and as her attention flitted distractedly between the flames above me and within me, I sighed against the heavy air, unfeeling to her warning and concern. Then, the little feline was balancing along the bath’s edge, peering between the water and I. She gingerly batted my breast with a paw before delicately placing her three pound frame upon my chest and curling up against my neck.
“Come,” I thought, “let us muse amongst ourselves the conception of the Apocalypse.”