What is the most insane thing you’ve ever done in a crisis?
This question greeted me this morning as I popped over to Joelle‘s to see what prompt she’d thrown at the world.
I sat here, staring at the blinking cursor trying to alight on just one story out of a lifetime of crises and poorly thought out decisions.
And then I remembered… The Towel
The Towel. Named in true Alfred Hitchcock fashion – seemingly benign, but rich with the shadows of hell. Once I started recalling the nightmare I found I couldn’t stop. 120-words was not enough to convey the extent of it.
It was a cold day.
One when every breath transforms you into a dragon.
The girl was cold.
She ran a bath.
She was 10.
She was also creative in a way that either ends in brilliance or… well, doesn’t.
She stoked up the anthracite heater and placed a towel across it. She imagined the warm soft cocoon that would envelope her when she emerged Venus-like from the bubbles and steam. She sunk into the warm depths and dozed.
The smoke alarm went off.
The girl leapt from the bath, not so much like Venus, more like an electrocuted hippo.
Then a lot of things happened in the space between seconds that seems to stretch for an eternity of slow motion horror.
The towel burned.
The dogs barked.
The gate opened.
Mother was home.
This was a Disaster.
Panicked, the girl desperately grasped for a solution.
Her mind lit on the first one and she committed herself without any further interrogation of possible options.
She grabbed the towel and flung in the cupboard.
Her wooden cupboard.
She slammed the door.
Mother walked in following her nose. The house reeked of smoke.
The girl put on what she thought was a suitably innocent face and denied all knowledge of the source of the odor.
Mother looked in the room.
Mother and the girl saw tendrils of smoke slinking like some slumbering octopus reaching out its arms to seek escape from the cupboard.
Mother did not hesitate. Mothers, in general, don’t. Mothers are good in a crisis.
She flung the door open, grabbed the flaming mass and threw it into the bath.
Then she came back and threw the contents of the cupboard into the bath too.
“Oh,” thought the girl idly, watching this, “Wish I’d thought of that. It’s obvious now.”
Then the mother made herself a big cup of tea, wondering vaguely if it were too early for wine.