It had been five days since she had washed her hair and in that time she had been out running; been caught in the rain and been in the line of fire when her two year old decided that on Wednesdays he hated scrambled eggs.
Once upon a time in a land far away and in a world without her children, Carrie used to wash her hair every other day. Her long, luxurious, golden locks would be emerged wholly into the bath where she would lay and contemplate the true meaning of life while bubbles crackled around her head. When she was ready, she would reach for her shampoo – an exclusive purchase from her hairdressers – and soap up her hair. Once the shampoo was rinced out and the £5 a bottle of conditioner was evenly distributed, she would reach for the hot tap for a top up of warmth and then grab the Kindle that was waiting patiently on the side and she would read and read and read. Bath time, once upon a time, was heaven.
The last straw came on Friday night when her six year old used her hair as a tissue. That’s right, Carrie’s six year old daughter – who was able bodied and two metres away from the box of tissues – sneezed and then rubbed her nose in her Mum’s hair in a pathetic attempt to ‘snuggle’ her. The sight of the sickly green slime that coated her hair made her gag.
“Get off me!” Carrie yelled, knowing full well that a six year old girl’s cuddles only came at a price, usually when she wanted something or needed something.
“I just want a cuddle,” came the muffled voice buried deep within Carrie’s hair.
“What’s that on my ear? Ewww, why is my ear wet. Get. Off. Me!”
Yanking her daughter off her and placing her unceremoniously on the carpet, Carrie glanced at her eldest child and saw tears of hurt glisten in her eyes. Soon, however, Carrie realised that the thin sheen glazing over her daughter’s left eye was not tears at all. Nope, it was snot. It seemed that while she was being pulled from the inner depths of Carrie’s hair, she had retraced her slime spreading steps and retrieved some of the goo that had been moisturising Carrie’s split ends. For the briefest of seconds, Carrie considered leaving her hair another day – after all, most of it was out now and it did have a shimmer to it – but the sheer disgust she felt in both herself and her daughter made her change her mind.
When did this become her life?
“Out! Out, all of you,” Carrie shouted as she gathered up discarded shoes and coats in the hallway.
Moments after ‘Snot Gate’, Carrie had persuaded her husband, Chris, to take the children out to tea and within ten minutes the three of them were packed up in the car. Silence engulfed Carrie; it wrapped its arms around her like an old friend.
The hot tap coughed and spluttered into life as she looked for some bubble bath she may have received as a Christmas present five months ago. Alas, adult bubble bath was not to be found so Carrie had to make do with a bottle of Mr Matey. Davey the Seaman – ‘a pirate with heart but with an aim like a dart’ – glooped out into the running water. How had she not noticed the inappropriateness of this bottle before? Ah, yes children – they had turned her brain to mush. The hot tap continued to fill the tub and as it was doing so, Carrie started to empty out the toys currently residing in the tub. Out came Batman, two dinosaurs, three cars, Woody (who was missing his hat), four Kinder Surprise Egg toys and Barbie. Barbie was looking somewhat dishevelled and was wearing a ring of dried white suds around her midriff. Clearly, Davey the Seaman had squirted on her during the previous night’s bath… The kids were always bloody squeezing excess soap suds everywhere.
Steam started to circle the air so on went the cold tap. In that moment, Carrie disappeared to grab her Kindle, undress and grab her robe. Eventually, the bath was ready; Carrie lowered herself into it slowly and watched as her skin turned pink in the heat. Slowly laying back, she allowed the water to climb up her spine as she accustomed herself to the hot water . Her Kindle, balancing precariously on the sink, waited for her. Inside the cover it contained worlds she had not ventured into for such a long time and characters, whom she would once refer to as friends, were now merely strangers on a page waiting to be acknowledged.
Once she was fully emerged, Carrie reached for her Kindle and opened it. Its glowing light entranced her and immediately she was hooked. The opening chapter set the scene wonderfully and as colourful metaphors began to formulate images in Carrie’s head, she heard the front door open and bang shut.
She didn’t move.
Perhaps if she stayed quiet they wouldn’t know she was there.
A thunderous noise hit the staircase and began its ascent to the top. There was the briefest of pauses before the bathroom door was slammed inwards and her children entered with a barrage of questions.
“Mum! What are you doing?”
“Having a bath,”
“Mum! Where is my tablet?”
“Downstairs where you left it.”
“Mum! Where’s Woody?”
“Where’s his hat?”
“Mum! Shall I wash your hair?”
It was too late. The six year old had already lathered up and her hands were already massaging her scalp.
It was only then that she realised her two year old had been uncharacteristically quiet and that she could feel something attached to her big toe. Recoiling in horror, she realised it was only Batman and he was wearing Woody’s hat. She made a mental note of that when so a future meltdown could be averted. Floating around her now she could see three out of four of the original cast of Ghostbusters moving their way slowly past her stomach. She wondered where Dr Venkman was and thought she saw him pop up between her legs before realising that it was the tail of the plastic T-Rex that had been lying on the bath rug a few moments earlier. She had purposely placed it on its side as its arms were rendered useless when lying down so clearly this T-Rex had received a helping hand back into the bath.
Strategically placing bubbles around all the areas a woman needs bubbles, Carrie kindly asked her children to back away for one God damn minute so she could rinse her hair. Emerging once again into the now cooling water, silence filled her ears as the water rushed in.
“Mum!!! I need a poo!” came the unmistakable desperate tones of a two year old in need of a dump.
Carrie immediately sat up straight in the bath, displacing all bubbles and discarding all that was left of her modesty and barked instructions to her daughter to get her brother’s pants down and get him on the potty. Once this was done, both children – one on the floor and one red-faced and straining on the potty – sat silently facing Carrie just watching. Goosebumps began to slowly climb her arms and Carrie couldn’t tell whether this was due to the bath now being lukewarm or whether it was due to the unsettling way her children were just staring at her in a way that reminded her of the spooky twins in ‘The Shining’.
The silence was broken with an almighty crash.
In stormed Carrie’s husband looking red faced and desperate. He walked briskly towards the toilet, lifted the lid, unfastened his jeans and sat down and a look of relief washed over his face.
“You’ve been in here for ages! Sorry, I couldn’t wait any longer. Look at you laying there like Lady Muck enjoying her hot bath. Enjoying that are you?”
Carrie’s stern eyes spoke a thousand words and Chris immediately shut up. As husband and wife stared at each other – one on the bog and one in the bath – naked, vulnerable but no longer alone, her son stood up from his potty, bent over and shouted.
“Mum! Wipe my bum!”
Lady Muck indeed.