Image of a swirling purple, pink, green, black nebula-like shape on a dark gray background. White text at top reads "Drowning Jonathan", and at the bottom "Lyle Skains"

Drowning Jonathan

Lyle Skains

Florilegium, Pegleg Publishing, 2009

The bathtub is beautiful. Stunning. Majestic. Strong. Its talons span the cracking floor, casting an invisible net that keeps the ancient tiles from falling to the lower flat. The porcelain, chipped and abused, carries her weight in its belly, her water-lightened body floating in the cooled pool.

Tatters and scraps of charcoal-darkened paper lie damply about the room, close-up pencil drawings of a claw, a rim, a drip-drop of water.

She rises from the tub, languid and warm. Rivulets stream down her skin, running back to the comfort of the huge, heavy tub. She winds a thick towel around herself and steps out, using her art for a bathmat.

Still wet, she sits on the closed toilet lid and puts charcoal to drawing pad, sketching and shading and rubbing and forming.

Her voice is faint, lilting, almost under the realm of human perception, even her own. It is so constant as to be white noise. It is as if her thoughts have become audible.

“It’s so much like it was, isn’t it?” Still sketching, outlining, filling. “Every day, every moment. I stay here for that, you know. I stay because you’re here.”

She is alone in the room, but her words make another presence palpable, shimmering on the outside of visibility. She knows he listens.

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