On the second floor, the exterior of the claw foot tub had been painted acrylic white by the previous owners. Brush strokes cross-hatched manically against its furry shins. The tile beneath had been laid by an amateur. Around the plumbing there were hacked and missing pieces, and the dark grout glopped from between the little tan squares.
The sink, which had been fine to her when they purchased the property from the bank, now stood for poor taste and laziness. It was apparently stylish but incongruent and out of place, with its crane head and bulky unpainted cabinetry beneath. Not unlike, Mandy drifted, the house itself, from the exterior; a French Imperial gem made up in gawdy but somehow muddy beach colors, like the memory of joy. It stands out on the sober block, chipping and rotting, augmented by a perimeter of dinosaurious ferns who live for a three month epoch each year and leave a moat of corpses behind. They are heralded by an afgan of violets and clover, which needs to be mowed to prevent the highway trees from taking root.
The bathroom closet was peeling at every surface; the shower curtain was strung up on a suspended loop of soldered copper pipe, and the original door frame had been notched to accommodate an oversized slab that didn’t quite fit anyway. In what had presented as a stalled optimism, something to take up and champion, she had come to see a middlebrow megalomania mixed with arrogant expediency masked, maddeningly, as a do-it-yourself ethos.
But the shower was warm. She was warm and wet and naked and alone and happy.
“Mommy!” from the back stairwell.
“Mommyy!” yelled Sparks from the kitchen kubby at the foot of the stairs.
“What is it, honey?”
“Daaady wants to know where the pastry bags are!”
“Above the microwave.”
“Oh! Daddy, they’re above the microwave!”
“Daddy says where above the microwave!”