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  • Writer's pictureEva Nel Brettrager

Breathe In, Breathe Out - NaNoWriMo 2020

Bathtime is a ritual for me. Regardless of whether it is a good day, or a bad day, bathtime is a sacred time that I keep all for myself. If it was a good day, my evening bath was a reward for a day well conducted. If it was a bad day, my evening bath was a relaxing ceremony to distress from all the activities of the day.

The first day I noticed a problem was one week ago today. I had a fairly rough day, so I lit a few extra candles, and added a little bit more bubble bath than usual, and sank deep into the tub, letting all the anxiety drip out of my body. I had been soaking for roughly thirty minutes when I heard a strange bubbling sound. I sat up. Peering down at the drain, I could see that even though I had a stopper in place, a few bubbles were escaping from underneath the rubber piece. The bubbling ceased, so I brushed it off and continued about my normal bath procedures. The rest of my night was nothing out of the ordinary.

The next day, it happened again. That day’s bath was a reward bath - I had received a promotion at work. I work in a finance firm and for the past month we’d kind of had a race about who could bring in the most overall profit for the company. I beat out a co-worker by $3.16. It was a close contest! So I was definitely deserving of this reward time. This time I had used all green candles, a eucalyptus bath bomb, and some coconut oil infused bubble bath. I had a glass of white wine, and even decided to play some of my favorite true crime podcasts on the bluetooth speaker while I lounged. 

It was about forty minutes into my bath when I noticed the strange bubbling again. I sat up, and looked down at the drain. The little rubber stopper had bumped slightly to the right, so the drain was exposed. The bubbles were coming up from the drain. I must have accidentally knocked it with my foot. It took me a moment to realize why this was still perplexing to me. It soon occurred to me that even though bubbles were coming out of the drain, the water wasn’t going down. The physics didn’t make sense. I decided that was a good time to get out.

The next day wasn’t really a good or bad day, but I was mentally exhausted and ready to soak. I was shocked when I got together all the essentials and headed to the bathroom, only to find that the tub was still full from the day before, and an odd looking milky film and covered the top of the water. The drain was also still bubbling. How was that possible? If there is air flowing from the pipes, then the water must drain, even if super slow. 

I ran to the local corner store and grabbed some good old Drano. Hurrying back to the house, I poured it in and let it sit for about 45 minutes before checking on anything. I made myself a simple dinner while I let it do it’s thing, and now being full of food I was really hoping it was empty so I could get my relax on.

When I returned to the bathroom to check on the progress, I was totally shocked to see the tub filled with more water than it previously had been, and it was now a murky shade of brown. I called my boss and let him know I didn’t think I’d make it to work the next day and gave him a simple explanation of what was going on. He was cool about it - I was a really hard worker and hardly ever requested time off.

Next up, I googled a nearby plumbing company and gave them a call. They were close to closing for the day, as it was pushing six in the evening, but they had an opening around eleven in the morning the next day, so I took the appointment. It looked like I was out of luck and for the first time in a very long time, I would get no nightly bubble bath. I headed to bed, feeling defeated.

I read for a while - a friend had recently lent me a Clive Barker classic, and I had not given nearly enough time towards reading it. Eventually, I drifted to sleep, however restless. It was the strangest dream. I don’t remember much, but I was walking through a deep cavern. There was an endless maze of steaming pipes running over my head, and the hissing sounds they were making seemed almost like an old Latin chanting. I tossed and turned hard in my sleep and woke up drenched in sweat. I desperately wanted even just a shower, but alas, no access to my tub!

I honestly couldn’t tell you how I made it through the hours until the plumber arrived. I paced, checked news updates about the coming election, then paced some more. I felt more and more anxious the closer it got to him arriving. He was prompt, thankfully. He actually arrived about ten minutes early. He got to work with haste.

I was sitting in the living room while he worked, flipping through some senseless Buzzfeed articles. Suddenly, I heard a loud coughing in the bathroom. I called out to see if he was alright when it was still going on after several moments, but he didn’t respond - he kept coughing. I went in to find him shaking on the floor, scratching at his throat and blue in the face. He couldn’t breathe. I quickly retrieved my phone and called the emergency response services.

They arrived pretty fast - while we waited for them to arrive I had at least managed to get him into a seated position and continually pat on his back, hoping to open his passageways from whatever was obstructing them. They got him onto a stretcher and out the door. I was left by myself, and feeling pretty dumbfounded. I decided cleaning might help cleanse me of the bizarre encounter. I gathered all of his tools and set them aside, planning to drop them off the next day and the business. I discovered that whatever happened to him, he had managed to clear out the blockage in the tub. So once I finished cleaning up, I rinsed out the basin, and ran a bath.

This time there wasn’t much delay before the bubbling at the drain began. And this time it wasn’t timid, by any means. It was thick, and loud. It almost sounded like boiling water, except it wasn’t hot. As I was just starting to sit up, the tub started rapidly filling with water and began to overflow, spilling onto the floor and flooding the whole room.

I leapt from the tub, barely avoiding falling. I threw together the most reckless of overnight bags, snatched my keys, and headed to my car. As I was driving to the local motel, I called my landlord to tell them what was going on. I updated them on all the happenings over the past few days, and that I couldn’t handle it. I told him he’d have to go and deal with it - I’d done what I could and it was beyond me at this point. I next called my boss and told him once again I would need a day off, updating him on what was happening. He was very understanding. Once I had pulled into the parking lot of the motel, I shot a text to my therapist and let her know I needed an extra session this week. I was feeling way too overwhelmed. 

I quickly checked into a room and headed inside. I plopped onto the bed and fell into a deep sob. It came over me unexpectedly. I took a deep breath and shook off my sad feelings. I just wanted a bath. I inspected the bathroom. It seemed decently clean, and I was so desperate - I bit the bullet and ran the water. I used some of the motel's liquid body wash for some bubbles. I checked the mini fridge near the bed and found a small bottle of cheap Moscato. I grabbed it and climbed into the bath. I tuned my phone into some soothing music on Spotify. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep.

I don’t know how long I’ve been awake. It has been quite some time. The wine bottle is gone, but I still have my phone. Some type of tarping has been placed over top of the bathtub, and I’m still inside it. I’ve tried endlessly to push it away, create a tear to get out, nothing is working. But the drain is slowly bubbling. And the chanting is getting louder. And ever so slowly, the water is filling. My face is barely peeking out of the water now. If you are able to send help, please do. I’m at the corner of Main and Fifth Avenue, at the little cheap motel. You know the one. I don’t want to die doing the one thing that brings me peace.

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