Number 20- Je suis un rock star


Number 20- Je suis en rock star

Neal tiptoes into the bathroom, neatly sidesteps the Hans Solo action figure and the my little pony on sentry duty outside the bathroom. He pushes the door open with one finger, winces at the creak as the it opens and pauses, waiting for a sound, any sound.
But, there’s nothing, he breathes out a sigh of relief and pings on the light.

The bathroom is surprisingly large, big enough to house a book case, a battered Victorian nursing chair and the box of plastic bath toys.

Neal turns on the shower and stands for a minute looking at himself in the mirror, morning hair, morning face, everything a little out of focus, a little vague around the edges.
He steps out of his boxers and stands naked in front of the mirror, taking stock and if he remembers to breathe in, suck his belly in, well it’s actually ok.
He’s still got a bit of a tan from their two weeks in the sun, his hair is greying, but in a good way, makes him look classy and his gym going might be a bit hit and miss now, but he’s not too wobbly, too middle aged.
On the beach with the kids this summer, he could felt the odd appraising, approving glance from the yummy mummies and he liked it, liked the attention.
It made him feel as if things weren’t completely over for him, made him feel as if he still had options, other lives, other possibilities.
The shower is steaming now, water pounding against the glass. The power shower was his only contribution to the whole bathroom refit. He wanted a real shower, a mans shower, a shower that disgorged water with such force that his whole body tingles afterwards.
The kids don’t like the shower, they are bath babies, one each end of the bath, a flotilla of ducks and dinosaurs and Lego bricks floating between them, their hair twisted up into mad bathroom Mohicans and quiffs, ready for his wife to rinse off carefully, avoiding any risk of shampoo in the eyes.
He remembers the time BC, before children, when he and his wife would share a bath on a Sunday afternoon, cups of tea or sometimes Mexican beer and his soaping of her back and her shoulders and that special curve of the nape of her neck and then his fingers running down her spine and sometimes bed and sex and sometimes just talking and pyjamas and onto the sofa and rubbishy TV.

Neal stands in the shower, the water is hot and he keeps his head under the stream for a few moments and then he shakes his head, water drops everywhere, he can feel his jowls wobbling, this is what his kids call the dog shake and Neal starts to sing, shower gel in hand and today, he’s feeling a bit nostalgic, is remembering the big tunes from back in the day

I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I
Can’t relax
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away

Neal even manages a micro rock star strut in the shower cubicle, two micro steps each way, and he’s belting out the lyrics. Voice sometimes distorted by a mouthful of soapy water, but compensated for by the acoustics of the shower and the tiled bathroom.
He sounds like a god, he feels like a god.
Sometimes, he actually thinks that this is the best moment of the day, that everything is pretty much downhill after his seven minute ( two songs, with a couple of repeat choruses) of water and steam and rock stardom.
He is a legend in his own shower cubicle.

As he starts to dry himself with a Disney princess bath towel, he hears the first stirring from the kids bedrooms.
His daughter is not a morning person, takes time to surface. He can hear her talking to the cat who has at some point snuck into her bedroom and taken up residence amongst the cuddle toy mountain. Leah, will, if allowed to, stay in bed for at least another hour, arranging plastic animals on the duvet, singing songs to the cat and choosing her own outfit for the day.
Max is something else, he wakes,more erupts into the morning, leaps out of bed and grabs the day by the throat.
Neal can hear him, a whoop as he grabs his Darth Vader toy and heads towards his dad and the bathroom.
They stand together at the sink. Neal shaves. Max watching intently. They both have a dab of aftershave, Max always get to choose the morning aroma and sometimes he will decide that he’s going to be the one who moisturises Neals face and that goes as well as a three year old and a tub of Nivea for men could possibly go.

Neal can feel Sara stirring, but it’s Saturday and Saturday has a routine, he and Max have a routine and off they go. The cat weaving in and out of their legs as they head downstairs.

And later, the tray placed carefully out of reach, everyone back in bed together, Leah spooned against her mother, eating a piece of toast, eyes still half closed, a discarded pair of glittery wings just about to slide off the bed.
Max is desperate for the day to start, is bouncing between his parents, and then suddenly sidetracked, grabs the fairy wings and demands that his father fits them.

Neal leans back for a second and smiles, he manages to fit the wings and hold onto his mug of tea, only spilling a few drops.

This, he thinks, might be the best part of the day.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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