The Bathtub

When I was six years old, I could always gauge a successful bath by how furious my mom got. It wasn’t my intention to send her into a hard boil, but things just ended up that way. I tried my best to contain the water within the walls of the bathtub, but sometimes the age of six can just get the worst of you. The image of her is still quite clear: a thick, tangled pile of dark brown hair—unkept from a long day of house cleaning and cooking—strewn about like a nest of rattlesnakes. Her brow pushed down hard upon her fiery eyes blistering with agitation. I do not remember fingers clinched around a metal spatula, but rather hawk-like talons dripping with turkey gravy. And there she stood, towering just inside the doorway–a mythological creature—part Medusa, part gargoyle.


I looked at the bath water covering the entire bathroom floor, fully permeating the throw rugs, and seeping into the hallway carpet. There was water running down from the mirror five feet away, broken glass next to the sink, and the strong smell of mint. Whatever sense of guilt had surfaced had just as quickly been dismissed, as I realized there had been a battle here. How was I possibly to blame? I looked at my green, plastic army men snipers, positioned on the sink’s countertop, toilet tank, and atop the perimeter bathtub wall. About twenty of these snipers had fallen victim as casualties of war, and were bobbing up and down in the warm porcelain pond full of large, foamy mounds of Mr. Bubble.

Unbeknownst to my mother, beneath the soapy bubbles and darkened water ridden with dirt from a full day of playing, there lurked a sea beast (a.k.a. hand towel) intent on only one thing: to destroy each and every green sniper. This sea monster would erupt out of the water and unleash its mighty cotton tail, doing everything in its power to defeat the horrendous onslaught of enemy fire. Like a bullwhip, it lashed out at the snipers on the tub wall. Helplessly falling into the porcelain pond, the monster made sure they were sealed to their deaths by crashing down upon them as hard as possible. Over and over and over the monster repeated this thunderous impact, sending cataclysmic towers of water so powerful they splashed against the ceiling sky. Next, a raging roar echoed as the monster went into a full-body helicopter spin over the floor, thus wiping out an entire battalion of countertop snipers, including three toothbrushes, a soap dispenser, and shattering a glass bottle of mint-flavored Listerine. The monster then quickly retreated back to the tub, where it reconstituted its body with bathwater before repeating the same attack upon the division of soldiers firing from atop the toilet tank. No life would be spared.

And then the quiet.

A bathroom once occupied with heavily armed men, now stood silent in the wake of the aftermath. The monster, fully spent, retreated to the depths of the pond and laid hidden beneath the mounds of foamy bubbles—staying clear of the one force that could completely shut it down: my mother.


Amongst this battlefield of fallen snipers who were either toppled onto the flooded floor or perished in the tub or, worse, plunged into the toilet bowl, I suddenly realized I was the lone survivor. While it’s true I had been the omnipotent orchestrator, narrator, and participant of the battle, I found great pride in that fact that I had survived this devastation.

As for the snake-haired gargoyle that stood in the doorway, breathing like a coal-fed furnace, I had only one chance of escaping her wrath. Without this one chance, I was sure to meet my end. I was sure to never return to school to tell the tale of the great sea monster. I was sure to join the dead snipers bobbing up and down in the porcelain pond.

And then I heard the footsteps. My one chance had arrived: my father.

“Well, looky here!” he said, in a jovial voice of excited discovery, “We got us a war zone! How’s it going there lil’ buddy!?”

I could not have sighed any longer or deeper. Grabbing a nearby bottle of shampoo, it was time to take my bath. And why not? After all, I had survived.

Copyright Ros Hill 2016


2 thoughts on “The Bathtub

  1. Have you read, “No David!”? Or other kids books by David Shannon? You write better, and definitely draw better, but you and David are kindred spirits! I just feel sorry for your poor mothers! :)))


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