Flooding the Bathroom


As you know it started with buying the oxygen tank from the internet. I remember telling you over the phone one day and how we pissed ourselves laughing about it. Thank you for the waterproof disposable camera that you sent in the post. It made me miss you a bunch. I’m gonna send you some of the snaps I took.

I remember sitting in English one Friday hoping that Mr Mundane would have an epileptic fit. Flowers for Algernon was dragging me down and I decided to bunk Algebra and try get this thing into motion.

I went to the supermarket. I bought anything I thought I’d need for the occasion. Ten rolls of plastic wrap. Duct tape. Pink straws and cocktail umbrellas. It was like last minute shopping for a birthday party. Like pushing a trolley and debating whether I had enough candles and colourful streamers.

I ate a donut on the way home, stopped by the dairy, bought a Capri Sun and accidentally poked the straw through the whole packet, dumb fuck that I am. I got home, the parents were still at work of course, and I blasted Prince from the sound system in the lounge. 

I got changed into my bikini. Walked around in my playboy slippers, slipped on the little satin gown that you gave me. Your hand me downs are the best.  

Oh Jenny I miss your pretty face. What mischief have you been up to, which weirdo have you been doing recently? I finally asked Sam to the senior formal by the way. She totally shrugged and said yeah, okay. I know she wants to cop a feel.

I forgot to tell you that a couple of weeks ago I stole the inflatable donut ring from Mrs Daly’s pool. I vaulted over the back fence and grazed a knee but it was well worth it. Stole the dumb frog statue from her poolside too. All the while Mrs Daly was sunbathing topless on her deck chair. Her wide brim sunhat was covering her face. She was snoring. Her skin was baking. Wish I could’ve swiped her pool net as well. Remember when Mrs Daly went beserk at Hopper when he dug under the fence one time? We had to jump on our trampoline to catch glimpses of her chasing our dumb bunny around her backyard, trying to trap it with the pool cleaning net. God I miss that rabbit.

So anyway I got out the stolen goods from under my bed. I inflated the donut again. I got the oxygen tank out of the closet. It came with a diver’s breathing apparatus, I slung it around my neck like Skull Candy headphones. I brought my shopping goods to the bathroom and got to work. 

It took a million hours to get the bathroom primed up. I had to take all the shit out of it first. Toothbrushes, toothpastes, shaving cream, soaps and make-up wipes. I left it all on the kitchen bench and threw the towels over the armchair in the lounge. Then I taped the toilet seat shut. I wrapped the door and the window frames with plastic wrap ten times over. I was starting to question whether this was really going to hold. There was only one way to find out. I put the plugs in the basin and the bathtub and I turned on the taps. 

Steam rose up from the bathtub, fogging up the window. I was drinking lemonade out of a glass with a pink straw and a cocktail umbrella. I had spiked the lemonade with whiskey from the liquor cabinet in Dad’s bureau. I was reading a three month old Dolly magazine. I was a little lonely I guess. I don’t know if it’s loneliness but it’s the space in time where you are not immediately hanging out with anyone but you wish you were, just had someone nearby to talk to. When the bathtub started to overflow I threw the magazine in the water and sculled the rest of the lemonade.

The oxygen tank strapped on like a backpack. I rested the scuba goggles on my forehead, not yet ready to pull down over my eyes. I sat on the edge of the bath and watched the water pool over the tiled floor. The water picked up bits of dust and hair from behind the sink, I noticed a few bobby pins float by.  I poured bath salts into the water and some lavender oil, just so that it would equalise the grime. The water was warm around my ankles, slowly rising to my knees.

The afternoon light was coming in through the heavily plastic wrapped window. The day was starting to dim. I had a large plastic sack full of glow sticks -another impulsive buy from the internet. I took a glow stick, snapped it to activate the chemicals, and then dropped it into the water. Most of them sunk to the floor but a few floated or spent a long time suspended in the lapping water. Coral underneath the sea. 

When the water reached my shoulders I put on my breathing apparatus. When the water reached my neck I turned on the valve to the oxygen tank.

There were things I had forgotten to take out of the bathroom that sunk down or floated to the surface. Shampoo bottles, pumice, a roll of toilet paper. I turned off the taps when the water was a few inches from the ceiling light and the extractor fan. I could sense the stress that the body of water put against the room. It pressed against the plastic wrap and the door and the walls itself. For the moment the room didn’t give. The walls held their ground and the window remained fastened shut.

The bathroom is one of the most mundane and tiresome places on earth. Having to shower in the morning, feeling groggy, barely awake. Having to floss my teeth when I feel guilty about not having done it for a week. Constantly looking at myself in the mirror, sometimes pausing to pop a pimple or squeeze out a blackhead on my chin. Life feels like it’s just biding time until the next time you need to piss or take a shit.

I had done it Jenny. I had turned the bathroom into an aquarium. It was bizarre looking at the toilet seat, the basin, the medicine cabinet, the judgemental mirror, the holy shower head. Now submerged, antiquated, made into shipwreck. 

Life was grand at the bottom of the sea. I wished you were there to join me. This was my octopus’ garden. The sounds of the street sounded low, almost inaudible. My breathing was so loud. Long ‘kssssk’ sounds when I drew in air from the tank. I waded about the room, stood in each corner, took pictures. My hair was floating about in that wavy way, heavy because it was waterlogged but flowing and weightless because it was underwater. 

I often dream of the siren’s call. The beckon of a mermaid, bathing on a rock. I wish I could meet a river spirit who would save me from drowning.

Lights passed through the window outside. It was the parents going up the drive and parking in the garage. A few minutes later I could hear a door open distantly. I could hear floorboards bend. 

My parents opened the bathroom door. With the barrier of the door gone the water finally barged against and burst through the plastic wrap. An immense sweep of water flushed through the doorframe and into the lounge and kitchen. 

I remember looking at Dad standing in the centre of the door completely drenched. Mum stood behind him, her office clothes sodden. The underwater camera flashed ten seconds beforehand, catching the horror on their faces.

It wasn’t so bad afterwards. The water damage was extensive to be fair. The house is being re-carpeted, fan heaters have been drying the woodwork for a week. I remember hearing talk about a few electrical complications and the possibility of renovation. Most likely it’ll all be cleaned up when you come to visit over Easter break.

My parents want to keep me in sight. I’m not allowed to spend the evenings in my room. The parentals sit in their arm chairs in front of the television. I’m on the couch behind them. My homework is on my lap and the edges of the pages are buckled. The lights in the lounge are turned off; a feature film is playing. The television screen is the porthole of a submarine but I’m not looking at the television. I’m looking at my parents in front of me, in silhouette, sipping cask wine. My mother is fondling the remote control, fingers on the volume buttons. My ears are blocked. The light from the television casts waves on the walls. A large eel is swimming in circles above our heads.


Frank Sinclair lives in Wellington with a grumpy cat called Pushkin. They studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Victoria University.