The day is done.
I pull on the silver handle and hot water pours into the tub. After leaning over to sprinkle in some bath salts, I straighten up and disrobe.
I leave my clothes in a pile on the floor. They are soaked in dishwater and covered with the tell tale spots and patches of a day spent toiling at the housework. They are the uniform of a stay-at-home mom: Loose, comfortable black sweats and a baggy t-shirt.
I step gingerly into the tub, anticipating warm water but find it to be a little cool. Once I’m seated, I turn the handle to the left. The water comes in hotter. It’s still not enough, so I push a little further.
Steam begins to rise.
I swirl the water around the tub, pushing it behind me where it always seems so much colder. I fan my fingers and let my hands sink below the surface.
I look down and my gaze rests critically upon my body. Breasts that could still be described as full but certainly not perky. A flabby, scarred abdomen that once proudly held a child. Strong, muscular-but-stubby legs. Crooked, misshapen unpainted toes.
I slide back, lay my head on the cold white surface of the corner and use the tips of my toes to shut off the tap.
The resulting drips lull me to sleep.
Too soon, the chill of the water revives me.
Reluctantly, I lift the drain stopper, step out of the bath and towel off.
Goosebumps pop up all over my body and I reach for the flimsy, leopard print satin robe – a gift from some long past Valentine’s Day – hanging on the back of the door.
It sticks to my damp skin but provides no warmth, so I trudge into the bedroom and search for a fresh pair of sweatpants, dress and crawl into bed.
Wash, rinse, repeat.