This month’s prompt is to write about a boat. The story this week comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who has written a slightly macabre story in honour of last week’s Halloween (with a tiny reference to a boat).
Her two most recently published compilations of short stories are: Paper Patches (short fiction for women). Paper Patches is available from Smashwords for $2.99.
Broken Cornstalks, also available from Smashwords.
Rub a Dub Dub
by Cathy MacKenzie
“Rub a dub dub, baby in my tub. Love the feel—”
“What are you doing, Timmy!”
At the sound of his mother’s voice, Timmy’s hands immediately disappeared under the bubbles—and just in time! She hadn’t asked a question; she had made a statement. A very adamant statement, with the emphasis on “what.”
“Nothing, Mommy.” Timmy looked at his mother, an angelic expression on his face, which wasn’t hard to do. Blond hair, chubby pink cheeks, and big blue eyes were the world’s image of a cherub.
“You’re doing something. I see the guilty look on your face.”
“No, Mommy. I be good.”
“And what is that you’re hiding under the water?”
“Yes, something! I see it. Give it here.”
Timmy’s hands under the water added extra guilt. In fact, he was guilty. He knew it, and there was nowhere else to hide the object. Slowly, he raised his hands.
“How could you! Timmy, you are so bad. Just wait ‘til Daddy gets home. See what happens to you then.”
Unconcerned, he brandished Stephanie’s doll. Stephanie was his three-month old sister. The doll, which had been named, Sofia, was almost the same size as his sister. And oh, how the Sofia doll reminded Timmy of his sister. He wasn’t sure which of them he hated more—the expressionless, bald doll that continually glared at him or his dumb, hairless baby sister who received more attention than any one person should.
“Oh bad, bad boy, Timmy! You should be ashamed of yourself. You’ve ruined Stephie’s doll. How could you!”
“Mommy, it’s a stupid, stupid doll like a scary clown. All it does is stare at me. I wanted to drown it so it would quit watching me. Stephie’s too little for it anyhow.” He glanced away and then stared back at his mother. As if a secret, he whispered, “And you know what, Mommy? Stephie doesn’t like that doll either.”
“Oh, Timmy, don’t be silly. Steph is three months old. She doesn’t know what she does or doesn’t like.”
“Oh, but she does, Mommy.”
Mother glared at her son. “And you know this how?”
Timmy whispered again. “Because Sofia told me.”
“Sofia told you? Sofia is a doll. She can’t talk.”
“Oh yes, she can.” With the doll still in one hand, Timmy splashed it into the water. “Look at all these bubbles.”
“Don’t change the subject, Timmy. I’m sick of your stories. You’re five now, almost six. You know better than to fib.”
“Rub a dub, boat in my tub. Swish, swish. Blow my sails down—”
“Timmy, what in the world—”
“Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Timmy make you a rubby dub dub—“
“Timmy!” His mother shrieked louder than usual. “Listen up.”
“Hush hush hush, Mommy wants you to stop.…”
Mother covered her ears to no avail.
“Sail away, little toy boat. Sail far, far away. Swish, swish, blow my sails down.”
“Hush, Timmy, hush,” Timmy said trance-like.
Sofia the doll flew into the air before plopping back into the water with a great splash.
“Splish, splash, blow my head off.”
Suddenly, as if propelled by the force of a fountain’s gush, the doll’s head soared into the air while the body sunk to the bottom of the tub.
“Timmy, I’ve had enough!” The woman’s shrill voice echoed through the bathroom as if the room were a cave.
Unconcerned, and ignoring his mother, Timmy continued to play. When he bent his leg, his knee appeared above water. A boat, stranded on his knee as if dry docked, appeared above the bubbles. Carefully, as though the boat were candy about to disappear like the doll’s body had, Timmy inched his leg even higher. Mesmerized, his mother watched. Her eyes grew larger, wide and round, and her moist lips parted as if to speak, but not a sound escaped.
“Cat got your tongue? Cat got your tongue? Nibble the tongue. Nibble nibble nibble. Meow.” Timmy’s eyes were larger than his mother’s.
Timmy’s knee rose higher, as did the toy, until the rubber boat slid down his leg as though it were a rollercoaster train car.
“Slide, slide,” the boy yelled as the boat slipped into the water and floated away from him like an object on the great sea.
A large bubble surrounded the wee boat, encapsulating it in its clutches. The mother kneeled by the tub to examine what looked like a glow from the tiny windows, astonished to see a baby grinning at her. She couldn’t determine if the infant was Sofia or her very own Stephanie. With a sudden burst of energy, she raced toward the baby’s room, yelling, “Stephanie, I’m coming. I’m coming, sweetie.”
Unfazed, Timmy remained in the tub. He grabbed the bottle of bubbles his mother had forgotten on the floor and dumped more liquid into the water. He kicked his feet, amazed at the numerous, monstrous suds and bubbles. “Hee haw!”
He giggled and screeched when the bubble around the boat burst and forced the rubber boat to capsize into the water. He laughed even harder when Sofia’s head appeared from beneath the foam. Or was it Stephanie? His mother, despite her whining, had forgotten to take the doll from him. Too late for Halloween, he thought.
Timmy liked Halloween, which had occurred the previous week. He bravely wore his costume—a headless monster. He remembered when he and his mother had been in the store and he examined the outfit, which looked vaguely familiar. Stephanie? Or Sophia? But, really, who could tell with the head missing? He had let out the greatest wail he had ever emitted, yelling at his mother that he just had to have that costume. He hadn’t shut his mouth until she had tossed the package into the cart.
He couldn’t wait for next Halloween. Who knew who he might be then. And what about Stephie? Would she be around? Had she recovered her head? He laughed, great guffaws that caused tears to roll down his flushed cheeks.
Huge bubbles floated up and around him. Too many heads to confuse him. And he was positive he saw his sister’s head in one of them.
The Spot Writers:
Catherine A. MacKenzie