On a rainy afternoon, with the woods outside my window cold and muddy, I retreated to the bathroom, locking myself in so that I could relax in a tub of hot water, taking time to myself to read by the grey afternoon light. From below, I could hear piano music and drumming and the muted voices of teenage boys talking and laughing. But in the little room at the top of the stairs, heat began blowing out of the register as the furnace clicked on, a soothing noise that drowned out the sounds of the household.
Warm water caressed my legs and my belly as I shifted into a comfortable spot, admiring the way my skin looks silky when it's wet, soaping up my hands to swish my body clean, and then wiping my hands dry on a towel before I picked up the book that I had set on the floor. While the steamy heat released the tension in my lower back, I disappeared into a world where powerful women cast spells, where animals have voices and souls, and a yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City.
A long afternoon bath, filled with the scent of lavender and purple-grey afternoon light, strengthens me. When I stepped from the bathtub to wrap myself in a worn, soft towel, I felt ready to return to the work week, ready to read the newspaper with its depressing stories, ready to a culture in which strong, confident, powerful women are often ignored and scorned, where a person who speaks the truth is often called wicked.