Vignette No.22 – The Secret of Bath Salts

The Secret of Bath Salts

Our bathroom is haunted. It was not that way when we moved in, or else we wouldn’t be here now, let me tell you. We had been living in the house for two years when a tap failed and Dad went all macho-plumber on us, insisting he could fix it. He couldn’t, of course. He cracked the antique mirror above the sink instead and the poltergeist has been haunting us ever since.

I was the first to see him. I was lying on my back in the tub with my ears full of water, staring at the mould-freckled ceiling, when through the fog of steam the cracks in the plaster coalesced into a grinning face and there he was.

I haven’t taken a bath since.

He’s like the housemate from hell. There are always wet towels tangled on the floor, soap left in peculiar places, shampoo bottles left full one night and found empty the next. Taps turn on and off and have been known to explode off the vanity altogether in a geyser of water and plastic screws. He only takes corporeal form when the steam grows thick, but that’s hardly a comfort when a disembodied voice is butchering songs from musicals at the top of its undead lungs right beside your ear. For a while we tried blocking him out by playing the radio really loudly whenever we were in there to shower or wash our hands or something, but however high we turned up the volume, he could always sing louder.

After he got over the initial shock of a ghost in his bathroom, Dad thought it was funny. “He should be recruited by the government in a water-saving initiative,” he chortled when he saw my sister Miranda scurrying from the bathroom to the strains of ‘The Farmer and the Cowboy Should Be Friends’, suds still in her hair. Dad is a bit deaf. We saw the funny side ourselves the next day when a tap blew up on him just before he left for work, drenching the front of his suit with its violent spray. I don’t think the poltergeist liked him laughing either.

Miranda was the one who worked out what to do. She got so angry with his singing one night that she hurled a handful of bath salts at him, and he was gone. Just disappeared, like a reflection dissolving into ripples.

It doesn’t work for long. We have five minutes before he’s back and angry and singing like Pavarotti possessed by bluesy demons, but it’s better than nothing.

© Faith Mudge 2013

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