eden sits on the edge of the tub. he is reading my mother's Vogue magazine.
i drain some of the water from my bath, add more soap, and let the faucet run hot for a minute. bubbles rise up around me, perfect spheres, like iridescent christmas ornaments, hanging from my arms and chin.
eden looks up.
" you know you can't stay in here forever. they'll make you come out eventually."
i ignore him and pop bubbles with my pinky finger. he sighs, and goes back to reading about horsehair heels and matte pink lipstick. the bubbles rise higher, they form a wall around me. i imitate their sound with my mouth, pop pop pop. i can hear my mother outside talking one the phone, but her voice is low and i can't make out what she's saying. i let myself sink underneath the water. everything sounds slow here, like time is being stretched and paused, and i stay at the bottom of the tub until my lungs are throbbing and my heart is beating itself out of my chest trying to pump the last bit of oxygen to the rest of my body.My head comes up, and my mouth eats the air, keeping me alive,barely.
"what are you trying to do, drown yourself?"
eden smiles, and puts down the magazine, amused by inability to control my breathing.
" i was trying to stop time." i watch as the bubbles slowly fade into the murky bath water. a soapy film glides around me, and my pale, skinny legs look alien below the surface.
"nothing can stop time. "
" there's no such thing, simone. magic isn't real"
" then why can't anyone else see you, except for me?"
"because you're crazy"
i stare at my wrinkled fingers. this is what i will look like when i am as old as grandma ruth. i imagine my face, overrun with deep lines that look like little rivers. the skin on my fingers feels pinched and i wonder if that's why grandma ruth is always so grumpy, because her face feel like its being sucked into itself.
someone knocks on the door.
"Simone, you've been in there for an hour. Dinner's on the table, and were waiting on you."
"im not hungry.
i can always tell when my mother gets angry. the entire room turns freezing cold, and you can smell the smoke in the air.
"simone", my mother's voice is dripping with icicles, " if you don't get out of the bath and come downstairs right now, i swear to god i will.."
"fine MOTHER, i'm coming. "
i hear my mother sigh and walk down the stairs.
eden watches me make a rude gesture towards the door, and shakes his head "simone, you'll never be a lady like your mother". he stands up and hands me a towel.
"thank god for that, she annoys the shit out of me", i step out of the tub and wrap the towel around my hips, like football players in the movies do.
I walk to the sink. two black holes stare out of my eye sockets. eden stands next to me. his hair rises and falls around his head like a dark storm. i imagine that eden's skeleton is carved thin and precociously out of forbidden ivory, that his skin is woven out of the finest, palest silk, and that the flesh inbetween is made entirely out of discarded thoughts and abandoned dreams. i reach out and pinch his arm.
"ow. what the hell did you do that for?"
"just wanted to make sure you were real."