by Heather Leahey
April 2009

It has ferocious claws for feet, sleek white porcelain inside, and a rusty exterior. To strangers it looks ugly and old from the green rust of water residue, like the side of a battered ship at sea.  However, to me it is a fortress, a cast iron haven to escape, to pretend I am Link in The Legend of Zelda fighting off evil in the magical realms.  When engulfed, no one could bother me; I just slip through the sudsy water and drift away.  Every sound is magnified and slightly altered.  Voices sound long and droning like monsters stomping up the stairs chanting, “Fee fie foe fum I want to eat some kids, yum, yum.”

Privacy is an unknown in a home with two princesses and a queen.  Since solitude is out of the question, even while bathing, I learn to dissolve my surroundings.  I fabricate entire worlds with enchanted creatures and warriors alike.  Mom is peeing, the primadonnas are primping themselves excessively, and I am in the bathtub listening and imagining.  Sometimes I get so quiet and steel my body to avoid any movement, making them forget I am there.  I slip my body through the silky barrier, only exposing my nose for breath.  Closing my eyes while listening to their droning voices and the ambient sounds, I enter my kingdom.  I begin to imagine I am in a far away island hiding from  ferocious monsters.  The thought of their green, scaly skin and festering, puss-filled pimples makes me cringe to the bone.  I am hiding in the monsters’ soup; a thundering stomp sends vibrations through the liquid that engulfs me.  Do you think there are other kids hiding in here? I try to call out a whisper for help, but only my echo returns.  I hear the monsters approaching, discussing their new ideas for recipes to add to their ‘Kid Kook Book’.  The only thought on my mind is that I am the main ingredient in their next meal.  Their voices draggle—I listen closer.

I feel ripples in the soup.  Small waves are sloshing my body back and forth.  Will they see me?  If they see me, they will eat me. I must lie still; I will disappear so they cannot see me.  I keep my eyes closed so tightly my face feels like it is squished into a ball.  Concentrating on that long drone, just as it is almost out of earshot, I hear my name.  How do they know my name?  The water ripples into waves as my anxiety heightens, crawling up my spine, sending chills down my limbs.  Louder, repeatedly, it is getting closer.  The ugliest of them all picks up my bowl causing tidal waves of hot soup headed straight for me. I panic.  For the life of me, I need to remember how my sister Jess taught me last summer to swim under the wave so it doesn’t hit you.  If I don’t do it right the wave of soup will crash upon me with its mighty force, and, worse, if I don’t swim under the wave, the monster will scoop me up in his next spoonful.  The wave is so high it reaches the lip of the bowl.  I close my eyes and cover my head in hope that my shielding arms will protect me.  Pummeled by the soup trying to pry open my eyes and mouth, I curl into the fetal position until it subsides.

When the soup ebbs I open one eye just a squint for a peek, but there is no monster.  Mom and Jess are standing over me yelling and Brit is behind me cackling with an empty bucket in her hands.  I remain perfectly still, waiting just one moment longer. I jump out of the water with my hands curled like claws and my face contorted into the optimal scare position, tongue out, and eyes bulging,  as I belt out a roar.  All three of them jump back a few feet as I giggle with accomplishment. I grab my towel and get out so Brit can take a bath; my adventure is over until tomorrow.

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