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.
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Voice-Team
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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
7 months ago

From the beginning the reader is given to share in the sensuousness of Meg’s bath. From the robe falling “in a puddle of creamy satin” to the “fresh, clean scent of Frasier fir” mingling with “the sweetness of lilac” to the cacophony of birds, we experience each stroking of the senses. The reality of Miss Margaret doesn’t belay the fullness of Meg’s mind. May we all be as open to sensuousness as we grow older.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Beautiful story, Juma, with a very unexpected end. Having been a nurse, caring for older people, I can really picture this, especially with some of the ladies I cared for. Very nicely done.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

Thank you for the kind comments. I can only hope that I was. I specialised in care for patients with leg ulcers, so I was lucky enough to have time to have long conversations and get to know them during their treatment and dressing changes etc. They had some wonderful stories to tell. Some of them still pop into my mind all this time later. Happy memories ?

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian (@lydia-e-atzemian)
7 months ago

Atmospheric… Loved it!

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Alan Kemister
Alan Kemister (@alan-kemister)
7 months ago

Great story. I loved the twist at the end where you show that the whole scene in the bath (and the running down the stairs) is in her imagination. Sort of sad, but I think that’s how it is as we get old. We live more and more in our imaginations, and others don’t even realize it.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

I love that idea of yours, Juma, about the gifts of being a writer. We store away scenes with details and bring them out to write about them when we have time. Right now, I am writing about memories I have from when I was up to 8 years old. There are so many scenes in my mind, waiting to be taken out in the sunlight, dusted off and formulated in words.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Very atmospheric Juma, a stark write of being/getting old. Well written in that you paid particular attention to details of a sensual bath.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

Hi Juma, I think you may have misunderstood my meaning, I wasn’t referring to the content, but was trying to relate to the style, trying to point out the impact. Some times I think that a word can have a different meaning to what is usually implied. Perhaps I should have said it different – sorry.

Mary Wallace
Mary Wallace (@mary-wallace)
7 months ago

This beautiful story captivated me. It was poetic in its writing and lovely in its direction. Thank you for such a delightful piece.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Such a lovely story Juma. I imagined Meg pirouetting in her youth. She was a ballet dancer wasn’t she? She certainly came through as graceful and elegant to me. I find it comforting to think that our memories are stored so that we can call on them in times of need and re-live our happiest times. Meg was certainly happy re-living hers. Beautifully written and, for me, heartwarming.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

A very well written and entertaining story, Juma, and the surprising twist at the end gives it an extra dimension. I love the details, so well described, from young, beautiful Meg taking her bath in the morning. It’s easy to see how thoroughly she enjoyed it. And she still does in her memories. And now we too can. Thank you!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

I searched for Debussy’s Prélude «Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir» and found it. It’s a lovely piece of music, well fitting with your story of Meg taking her bath. I also looked for paintings by Degas, showing women bathing. There are a few, although the majority are of ballet girls. But Meg apparently was a ballet dancer, so also Degas fits into your story. I am impressed how you managed to include it all!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

And only now do I realize that the picture you attached to your story actually is a painting by Degas. Not until now did I actually look closely at it. Sorry!

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Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

A beautiful story, Juma! My mother has Alzheimer’s and I hope, like Meg, her dawn is also filled with wonderful memories.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago
Reply to  Juma

Thank you, Juma. I am sure she does 🙂

Brigitta Hegyi
Brigitta Hegyi (@brigitta-hegyi)
7 months ago

Congratulations! I love the details, I felt like I’m the one preparing for a bath. The twist at the end gave me goosebumps. Good job. 🙂

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Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Juma! It was an honor to read this story which, I think, managed to reach the depths of all of our hearts. Amazingly done!

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Congratulations Juma, this was such a beautiful and touching story.

Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter (@andrew-carter)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Juma. I know very little of art, and you impart so much with every word yet make it seem somehow effortless. I am amazed at the metaphors of descriptiveness yourself, and many others here seem to write so effortlessly. You are a treasure of wisdom and vivacious bubbliness for so many that respect you. You must be chuffed, and I am glad you won the Grand Prize.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
6 months ago

Hiya Juma, sorry for not getting in touch with you earlier (my internet has been down). Congratulations on your story making first place. You have a unique talent for connecting with the reader – well done, Eric

Culture Dragon
Culture Dragon (@culture-dragon)
6 months ago
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe

My Friend – You said above “my internet has been down”, and I had a thought:

Eric with no internet and without the Voice club, is like a fish without water.

Glad you are back online!
文龙

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
6 months ago
Reply to  Culture Dragon

Or water without fish?

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago

Hi, Juma. I am so impressed by your talent to make your reader engaged. This story is so captivating and has an unexpected ending. I love it.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago
Reply to  Juma

You’re welcome. Hope to read more from you.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago

Congratulations on the grand prize win, Juma.

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