Eve loved twilight.
Only then did she have her soul and the entire house to herself, away from the demands of nursing her father. She would bathe in the large iron tub in her room, just as she had before her mother died.
Eve undressed, tired and pensive. Each movement became a step in a languorous dance. As she laid her clothes on the floor, she caught her image in the long mirror.
Her body betrayed her thirty years and lost youth. Her breasts, though never having suckled a babe, no longer rose proudly to taunt the world. Her belly, though never filled with a growing fetus, sagged like an emptied sack.
Eve stared at this vision, her deep sigh misting in the cool air. Her toe tested the water’s warmth, then she settled in.
The tub was only large enough so Eve could sit back with knees raised. As she closed her eyes, the soothing effect of the lavender salts took effect and her breathing slowed. She did not fall asleep, but dreamt nevertheless.
She was sixteen again, with her mother on their last visit to London and Oxford before they left for Australia. A montage of experiences that filled her senses flashed by. The visit to Westminster Abbey, the boat ride down the Thames, the hours at the Oxford library. It all came back like a good book that one rereads from cover to cover.
But her mental wanderings always took her to the same garden in Oxfordshire. Eve could smell the blossoming roses and feel the warmth of the sun on her delicate skin again. And before her, he stood: Reginald Helmsley: seventeen, handsome, dashing, and oh, so unforgettable.
Perspiration had beaded on her forehead after their long summer walk, but Eve pretended not to notice. Reginald took out his handkerchief and neatly, ever so lovingly, blotted the sweat from her brow.
She had held her breath as he wiped her forehead exactly as she held her breath now, recalling it. Reginald then brought the piece of cloth to his nose, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply. He kissed his handkerchief and gave it to her.
Eve parted her knees in the cramped tub, opening her womanhood just a fraction, allowing the hot water to fill the void between her thighs. She squeezed her sponge, shuddering as fluid heat streamed between her breasts. The sponge kissed her behind the ear, then massaged her navel in slow circular motions. She gave an inaudible gasp. Her jaw slackened, her pulse quickened. She squeezed sizzling water between her legs. Her back arched at the smoldering sensation emanating from deep inside her empty womb and spreading throughout her body.
Finally, flushed and tense all over, she sat as still as stone. She held her breath in anticipation of a release that would never come.
Eve rose from the bath like Venus and stood for a second with her chin raised, her shoulders thrown back. She glanced at her reflection in the misted mirror, water dripping unheeded onto the old, ragged mat on the floor.
She exhaled, then bowed her head and wrapped her towel around herself like a shroud.
C. A. T. Torres V has been a molecular biologist, associate professor, and lawyer, and now hopes to be a published author. She works in an Australian research organisation and in her spare time, she provides free copyright advice to writers, musicians, artists, and other creative people. Her generous husband, three wonderful, talented kids, and frisky Maltese cross poodle, all inspire and support her writing.