The propeller on her head twitched. The falcon swooping in the bay took offense; Kelly was waddling across the lane dressed in a bath. Her toes wiggled in frustration. On Tuesday the man was coming to take her bath away, and she wanted to spend these last few days with it. The beach was empty, the rubbish bins full. The falcon dive bombed her, and then took off west, smoke tantalising from his brow.
Kelly thought it best she wore a bathing suit. She sat, half floating in the luke bubbly water. The bath feet had sunk a little in the sand, and so the water was wonky. The frame of her picture lay no further than the bay. The sea stretched out into oblivion, tossing about on the edge of the world.
The falcon returned after some half hour. Ten dozen black birds were teetering on madness, yapping at the falcons feathered tail. The picture frame went black, until they all landed on the beach. They cawed for a while, sussing out their property. Fences were built. Those closer to the bath were those of status in the crew. The falcon was a rewarded messenger, and then escorted off the premises.
Kelly lay back, water lapped over the edge like a waterfall, tossing about on the edge of the world; each molecule fought to stay. Above the scene, the clouds had been gathering, at first in disapproval, but on second thoughts, it looked jolly nice down there. And upon a decision they exploded, disintegrated and fell heavily into the bath. The battles for position grew more fierce. For a while there, it seemed the cooler of the lot were winning the war. But at the last moment Kelly slapped the bath and demanded the heat. The warmer droplets retracted their fall and landed quite cleanly in and around her.
The sky empty of water, began to fill with orange fire. Dusk was falling; one day closer to Tuesday.
The night was a gurgle of sleeping birds. At first it was a sleeping murmur, a ruffling of bed covers, but all at once the beach was a downtown night brigade. Eyes glowing in the moon they swooped in civil war. Black shadows, foul with discontent, screeching in blood thirsty mania. The black bird civilians of maternal and infant appearance scooted off, leaving a large squalor of testosterone befuddled birds, pecking violently in some wild invocation of hell
Startled awake by the uprising, Kelly blinked in the beach in one beat and hooked up her feet. The bath waddled down through the swishing tussock grass without looking back, without being seen. The black night shawl keeping them covered.
As day broke the iron claw feet were plodding over fern leaf and bark. Having shaken out the water, Kelly sat warm and dry in the enamel hull. The bath’s belly was dusty with travel. Some way down the bush on the edge of suburbia, a cat called from above. He waved heartily for attention. With a bit of help, a few encouragement calls, he landed safely, softly, in the bath. Endowed with driving goggles the cat going by the name of Nicholas, took the helm.
Together they pulled up to a stream. Words were spoken in argument. They ploughed on in and up the current, the bath claws slipping occasionally on slimy growing rocks. As the bed stretched away and the stream pushed water through the banks, the bath began to float. It’s little feet paddled furiously.
Up the river there was a waterfall; free falling over a rock-face. Beneath water the Bath dove. Kelly discarded her clothes. The water was cool. It propelled down in cascade wet. Nicholas sat on the riverbank, eye goggles pushed back on his ears, fishing rod in hand.
The afternoon dragged on with two fish on the spit, marinated in native watercress. And all at once it was night. The days etched on, and Tuesday grew ever closer.
Nicholas was growing rather fat, his stomach bulged out the sides when he sat down. A pear, he was, with the twig his head. Kelly insisted he walk this next half kilometre, and when he whined, she snapped at him, quite out of character. The Bath was in an odd mood too, it’s little clawed feet dragged along the dusty path with a cloud of melancholy about its thick white hide. Nicholas complained of blistered toes after some hundred metres and the Bath actually kicked him. Nicholas stormed off through the Savannah, the tall grasses swishing about his pear twig head, his nose high and his tail waving at them with the air of discontent.
When he returned he produced a picnic basket fit for Yogi Bear, picnic blanket included. Quite chuffed with himself he set up lunch a metre in front of the plodding bath. But the bath circled it and carried on walking.
“I’m not hungry Nicholas” Kelly mumbled.
“That’s it!” cried Nicholas. “What is it with you two!” The Bath turned to look at him, if he’d had eyes they’d have welled up with tears. The Bath suddenly bolted forward and nuzzled the cat. A truly tender moment, though Nicholas was a tad confused.
The three of them sat down to lunch; spinach quiche and blueberry muffins. And Kelly told Nicholas that a man was coming to get the Bath today. Nicholas fell awfully quiet, and even refused the last muffin.
“It is a sad day” he said.
The day blistered on through the desert sky. The troop took shelter beneath a wide-armed tree, and sat about seeing who could pull the longest pout. A single cloud floated across the sky. A happy little white puff of a cloud. Nicholas yelled at it. The cloud farted a big drop of rain right onto the cat’s head. It scoured down his back. He shook it off, and it flung into the Bath. A big fat wet droplet. The Bath sighed a sigh of contentment.
“Mmmm,” he seemed to say.
And suddenly Kelly thought about why she loved the Bath, and how truly ugly he is when he’s all dusty. She said so to the Bath. He looked away in umbrage. But when Kelly exclaimed her plan to the troop, the Bath lit up immediately. Warm bubbling slippery bathwater! And they promptly forgot about the man who was coming to take the Bath away that very day.