Friday, March 07, 2014

Cuento de Mi Id

“Love in Bain”

The hot bath water pressed down upon Diana's less-than-flat stomach like an insistent hand. It surrounded her limbs and pubes -- even her torso -- and would have covered her neck and head if she had allowed it.

But she did not allow it. She had kept it at bay -- just as she had kept her ex-husband Dennis at bay. The water flowed into orifices of Diana's body that only Dennis had known. Flowed there because Diana allowed it to flow there. She and the water became one in a way that she and Dennis had never become. Yet she still remained Diana.

That was important to her. Dennis had never wanted her to be Diana. He had wanted her to be “Diane” -- that giggly little creature she had been in the early days of their marriage. The one who shied away from confrontation. Who depended upon Dennis to kill the mouse. Who preformed oral sex when Dennis wanted to have oral sex without ever getting so much as a back rub in return. That Diane was gone. Drowned within her flesh. Instead there was now Diana. Cool. Calm. Assertive.

Taking a hot bath in the middle of the afternoon because she wanted to take a hot bath. Not another hot shower like the ones she took before she went to work. Those were over all too quickly, and no matter how long she spent taking them, she always felt a chill when she got out. As if the water had flowed over her, not into her.

Baths were different. You could take a hot bath in the dead of winter, and if you stayed in long enough, you could get out without shivering. You just didn't soak in the water. You became the water. Your body's temperature and the bath water's temperature became one. You didn't lie there, naked, waiting for someone to hold you, waiting for an embrace that never came...

Enough fretting about the past. Almost time to get out of the tub.

Diana still had weekend errands to run today. Shops to visit. Groceries to buy. Weeds to uproot. Dry cleaning to pick up.

She glanced at her scattered clothing and imagined going to the mall to buy a whole new wardrobe. Perhaps that blue dress she had seen at Joske's. Or the red dress in the front window at Dillard's. Or perhaps she could just go there as she was now -- without a stitch on. Just walk through the mall naked and watch the customers squirm in embarrassment and avert their eyes. Converting to nudism would no doubt help her save a fortune on her clothing costs. However, her heating bills would probably go through the roof come wintertime.

And in any event, why stay here?

If one were going to be naked, why not migrate to a warmer climate?

She imagined herself naked on a beach at Cancun. Mariachis were playing in the distance, and dark-skinned men were dragging reluctant señoritas up a nearby pyramid.

Strange. She never realized that there were pyramids in this location.

Perhaps Egypt.

Egypt where the sand invaded every orifice and the smart women learned to shave down there for sanitary reasons. A whip was cracking over a relucant work crew in the distance. A naked servant was massaging her weary back. She looked into a brass mirror -- and saw all the worries of the world reflected in her eyes.

Diana was old. And growing old. But she had not really lived yet. She had not even seen the Library of Alexandria. But no, the Christians had burned that down just last year. No, the Muslims did. Never mind. The two cults always blamed each other as cults always do. And crawling across the floor was a scarab. She looked at the scarab and remembered...

Lying outside a villa near Pompeii.

Mount Vesuvius was smoking in the distance, and one of the maids was talking about a possible eruption. Impossible, Diane said. The volcano has been quiet for years.

Besides, she added, gesturing towards her lares and penates, do you think that these would ever let any harm come to me?

Meanwhile, the outside sky began to fill with ash...

Diana was modeling for the great sculptor Praxiteles, and the studio was cold. There was a draft upon her body she did not care to think about, and she hoped that the old man's fee was worth it. To be immortalized in art, he had said. And yet her stomach rumbled.

Forget art, Diana thought. One life is enough for me. Just let me be prosperous in this one. And not end up like the aged ones who started out in the temples of Aphrodite and ended up becoming priestesses of Artemis...

The revolution was coming.

Diana's lover was upon her. He still had her cunt in his mouth when the mob burst through the bedroom door. They dragged them both out by their hair and made her kiss the severed head of her dead maid-servant. Then, of course, they threw her onto the wagon...

They wanted answers, of course. But Diana did not have anything to tell them.

That did not matter to the Inquisition. One of her neighbors had known something and now they wanted confirmation. They tested her with a pin, searching for a spot on her body where there was no pain, and instead they found that her body had an infinite number of spots that were sensitive to the touch of a pin. They stripped her naked so that their search would be more thorough and then they cursed her for her nakedness.

Then they showed Diana the tub.

They showed her the tub.

The tub. Where she lay awaiting a summons from the Grand Sultan. A black eunuch scrubbed her back and a white eunuch caressed her toes. Briefly Diana thought of another tub.

Then she forgot it.

Then she remembered it.

Then forgot it.

She had no life now that her husband had been killed in battle. Now she was the sultan's wife. One of them, at least. Or at least she was a concubine. Or a...

The tub, she thought. Something is within the tub. A dark shape. A mosaic, perhaps. It looked like...

A wasserliche. That's what they called it in German. But it was still a dead body. Diana glanced at the innocent young face and regretted having stayed so long at the factory. If only she had come home sooner, her daughter would not have died. She would have been --

But wait.

Diana had no daughter.

Yes, she did. She remembered giving birth to her. She remembered the fun she had conceiving her, and the pain she felt when her husband was killed in the war, and the misery she had felt trying to get by in the dark time afterwards.

And yet...

A bird flew overhead. It was a raven.

She pictured herself in the raven's place and seeing with a raven's eyes.

She saw a distant city ahead.

Then a distant ocean.

Then a distant harbor.

There was a lady in the harbor.

A tall, green maiden with a big torch and a spiked helmet.

And within the city, there was a skyscraper.

On the skyscraper was a balcony.

The balcony led to an apartment.

The apartment had a bathroom.

The bathroom door was only halfway open, but she could see that the room was occupied by someone taking a bath. Or at least someone who had been taking a bath but who had apparently fallen asleep while doing so.

She started to brush the curtain aside. But the curtain would not yield to her fingertips even though she was once again human.

However, she could step through the bathtub curtain and look down upon the tub's occupant.

Look down and see a middle-aged, heavyset brunette floating like Ophelia upon the waters.

Only this brunette was not quite floating.

In fact, her head was under water...

Diana gasped. That body in the water was her.

She once again reached out, this time in desperation. But her hands passed right through the body in the tub. They passed through everything, in fact. And as her hands passed through the bath water, she could tell that the water was really quite cold -- as if it had been sitting there for a long, long time.

Now what do I do? Diana thought.

What could she do?

And yet...

No more periods, she thought.

No more weight problems.

And, of course, no more ex-husband to worry about.

Why should she complain?

She was free now.

Hadn't she always wanted to be free?

Not like this, she thought.

Then she once more glanced down at her body.

Remembered the sensation of the warm bath water upon her skin and within her genitals.

Oh, well, Diana thought. Now I have all time and space before me. Come to think of it, who really needs a body anyway? Had I not just traveled quite a long way just using my mind?

Diana walked off and tried to imagine herself wrapped in silk.

But for some reason, she still felt naked.

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