She slowly slips off her robe and lets it fall to the floor in a puddle of creamy satin. She piles up her hair and clips it in place with jeweled pins. A few chestnut tendrils escape, adorning her temples and the nape of her neck. She adds a touch of French lilac to the steamy water, then cautiously dips in one toe. Too hot. She leans forward and opens the casement windows above the bath. The fresh, clean scent of Frasier fir mingles with the sweetness of lilac. As she steps into her bath, she hears the cry of a single bird greeting the dawn.
Her left hand holds the thick sponge, her right hand fills it with luxuriously scented, triple-milled soap. She runs the sponge up and down her right arm, which feels like silk. More birds join the morning chorus. She switches hands and washes her left arm, her neck, her torso. She lifts and soaps each leg in turn, enjoying the heady fragrance of woman, bath and evergreens. Her legs are strong and supple, dancer’s legs. She hums ballet music while she replaces the soapy bath with clean, warm water. She submerges her body into the clear liquid once, twice, three times. She steps out of the tub and wraps herself in a thick blue towel. The glorious cacophony of birds is like an orchestra warming up. She gently closes the casement windows. She can smell the coffee her husband is brewing downstairs, hear the yawns and giggles of her two young children. She puts on her robe and slippers and heads toward the pale blond staircase.
She is interrupted by a knock at her door. “Miss Margaret, it’s time for your morning bath.” The kindly-faced caregiver pushes a cart holding a rubber sheet, pans of warm water, slivers of soap and clean white wash cloths and towels. The old lady waves her away with a silvery laugh.
“No thanks.” Her voice is surprisingly strong for an octogenarian. “I’ve just bathed.” She closes her eyes again and runs lightly down the stairs to breakfast.