I shut my eyes. Ears underwater and the tub still filling, I would loose my head and turn the pounding water into The Bombing of Britain that my father—my father, I mean my history teacher—narrated that day at school. Or battles between kings, knights and kings, and two cowboys laughing, shooting at an older cowboy’s feet.
When I was eight years old, in 1968, my father told me I was a king; my mother agreed. I remember the morning. It was sunny after two weeks of on and off rain, breakfast at black lacquer table. I do not remember what brought on my father’s declaration. Saying it made it so. I became a king. And, a king needs statues. My figure would be cast in stone, situated centrally or at Rossmore and Arden in Los Angeles. Wearing a crown, I would order catapults, the building of more roads, street sweeping.
My mother and my Aunt employed a housekeeper between their houses. The housekeeper, Frances, sucked at her false teeth, every three seconds clicking the upper curve of false teeth against her gums. Frances would bend to wipe around the bathtub with rags cut from my old, torn, underwear. Frances established this space around the tub for me. I would have had no idea it was dirty.
In the tub, water molds around my body. The water is forced into the shape of the space between the edges of my body and the edges of the clean tub. I get out of the tub; the water is frozen in the shadow shape, the negative space of my body in the tub held for a second—held, I swear—then unfrozen, the water rushes back to find its own level, fills in the shape of my body, gone. The blue tiled floor is warm because a hot water pipe runs right under the floor. Out of the tub, my feet are warm.
- Marcus Civin