Bernice turned in the bath:
Ariadne was watching her
every movement. The red
hair once cropped short, had
now grown long again, the
eyes peered at her tiger-like.
Do you have to stare at me?
Bernice said. No, I don't have
to, but I like to. She continued
to wash herself aware that
Ariadne was still peering.
You can wash my back if you
must watch, she said. Ariadne
took the sponge and began to
soap Bernice's back. Like being
a child again, Bernice said, like
when my mother used to do
when I was little. Ariadne
sponged gently, over the back
and under the arms and down
the ribs and around the front.
I can do that area, Bernice said.
So can I, Ariadne said. She sponged.
Bernice sat there childlike bemused.
Didn't your mother bath you when
you were a child? Bernice said.
No, she Ariadne, I had to hurry up
and not take so long, or she'd hit
the back of my legs with a wet hand.
She never mentioned her father;
Bernice knew that was taboo.
She handed the sponge back to Bernice.
There you are, job done. Shame,
I was beginning to enjoy that,
Bernice said. Ariadne smiled.
Anytime and anything to obliged.
She left the bathroom. Bernice
finished off the bathing. Her mother
had to be bathed herself now since
the crippling disease. She sighed.
She got out of the bath and stood
drying herself with a towel. Some
days she wished her mother was
well enough to bath herself somehow.