Sylvie looked down at the dishes. In the slightly greasy water her fingers disappeared under the foam. The light sparkled and popped as tiny globes exploded and infinitesimal rainbows vanished in the blink of an eye.
She had always loved bubbles, the luxurious bath type ones that wrapped you in a quilt of scented foam. The ones children, and sometimes Sylvie herself, made blowing through a plastic ring, and the sort that floated out of wonderful bubble machines. Of all the things she wished she had, and there were many, a bubble machine came pretty high on the list.
Her fingers swished in the sink as she encouraged more foam to the surface and cupped her hand to lift out a palm full. The evening light through the window played with the froth filling her hand with a wonderland of prisms. Lowering her face nearer to the mound of soap she lost herself in the little technicolor worlds.
“What the hell are you playing at now you daft cow?”
The kitchen door slammed against its hinges, jolting her rudely back to reality. A vice closed around her wrist as he smashed her hand against the side of the sink over and over causing a couple of plates to cascade to the floor where they smashed against the tiles.
“Haven’t you finished the bloody pots yet you lazy bitch. Get a move on. You’re driving me to the pub. I’m meeting the lads in ten minutes.”
“Okay Dave, sorry. I was just looking at the bubbles.”
“Bubbles, soddin’ bubbles. Christ woman I swear you get more and more crackers every bloody day. Get a move on will ya. – Christ almighty, soddin’ bubbles.”
Her husband continued to mutter under his breath as he stalked from the room. She listened to him thud up the stairs, and shortly after heard the flush of the toilet and then the slam of the bedroom door.
Well at least he hadn’t really hit her. She rubbed at her hand as it began to swell and discolour. She watched fascinated as the bruise started to form. No this one wasn’t too bad. For just another moment she stared at it, her face expressionless, her mind trailing slowly through her life. The pills from the doctor made everything dreamlike as if she was outside looking at herself.
She could cope with the shouting. It didn’t bother her at all any more, no not at all. The beltings didn’t really have that much impact, except when they were so bad that they needed a trip to the Accident and Emergency or the Walk in Centre. But then it was really the embarrassment that upset her. But, she could spread her visits through the three different hospitals available to her, or more often than not, no place at all. Days of pain could be endured, she was immune to the pain after all these years and it was better than facing the questioning looks and probing questions of nurses or worst of all the police. The sadness was the only thing that had an impact now, it was deep and grey and part of her soul. The doctor said it was depression and boredom and she should get herself a job. He didn’t understand though, Dave wasn’t about to let her go out to work. Not letting her mix with others was the main tool in his arsenal.
With a deep sigh she pulled out the plug and watched as the water gurgled away down the drain, leaving little trails of white froth on the stainless steel. Sylvie would like to drift away like that, off down the drain and away.
She padded through to the hall, picked up the car keys and then went out to wait for her husband in the car. As she sat, immobile behind the wheel, it dawned on her that the little car was like a bubble itself. True the windows didn’t sparkle or pop but they shone as the sun set behind her, and the blue paintwork glittered as the street lamps flicked on along the street. So really it was just like being inside a little magical blob of foam. She turned the key and backed out onto the road.
The headlights of the oncoming cars were like little shiny bubbles. The traffic lights and the buses with all those sparkly lights inside – all little bubbles. She was floating, floating in the bubbles. She could just float away.
The screech of brakes as she passed along the High Road didn’t burst Sylvie’s little bubble. The car made its way up the hill and to the cliff where deep below the waves crashed and roared against the rocks. The air was full of the sound of the sea, and the sky a deep indigo, but Sylvie was already somewhere else. The years of struggle and tension had worked into her soul and now her soul cried, ’No more.’
She ran the car over the fence. The wheels bumped over gravel and then slid over the grass. She drove on and on and on. She took flight, she was free and she was flying. A fate, kinder than the one that had been her companion through the years of her marriage, snapped her head back and threw her into unconsciousness before the car somersaulted twice in its downward plunge.
Sylvie would have enjoyed the bubbles as it sank under the ocean.