Again for my Fantasy Lit course, we were given a creative writing assignment. This one was to write our own portal fantasy scenario after having read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and other short portal fantasy narratives. This was my take, inspired by my sister Becca and her love of bubble baths (my nickname for her is Beverly, since my iPhone always wants to autocorrect her name to this for some reason). Like my previous post, this short scene doesn’t have a title yet, but perhaps I’ll continue it when I get a chance.
It happened on an ordinary day.
Beverly got home from school, cursing the cold as she walked up the long snowy driveway. She kicked off her boots at the door and let her backpack slip from her arm and plop down in the middle of the floor, just like always. Her coat she threw over the back of the couch. And she went straight into the bathroom, like any other day.
Beverly had the habit of taking extraordinarily long bubble baths every day after school. When she was home alone, no one could complain about her using up all the hot water or staying in there for too long. She could do as she pleased.
This time, like all the times before, she adjusted the tub faucet until steaming hot water poured out, then reached for her bottle of bubble bath on the shelf above the toilet—only to come up empty handed and recall that she’d finished it off the day before. That was okay, though; she had some more in her room.
The new bottle, still in a sparkly green gift bag, had been a Christmas gift from her older sister Wren. Beverly smiled at the gift tag, where Wren had drawn a little cartoon beaver in the To field and a small songbird after From. The bubble bath itself was in a glass container the shape of a chemistry flask, sealed and stoppered with a cork. The label revealed that it was from Andromeda’s Apothecary—probably some weird hippie shop in Wren’s college town—and that the scent was Perpetual Pear, which it went on to describe as “a crisp yet smooth blend of nashi pear and honey with a just hint of lotus.”
Beverly saw for the first time a note in Wren’s writing at the bottom of the gift bag—she hadn’t noticed it on Christmas morning. It read:
To the Ancient Chinese, pears were a symbol of immortality. Honey, throughout the ages, has been valued for its sweetness. The lotus flower, in various cultures (i.e. Buddhism, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, etc.), symbolizes purity and rebirth.
So, if you use this scent in your baths, maybe Mom will stop complaining that you’re growing up too fast and wondering what happened to her sweet and innocent little Bevvie Bear. Also, it smells pretty.
Beverly laughed out loud at this—it was really a thoughtful gift. And then she remembered the tub was still running and rushed to the bathroom, bottle of bubble bath in hand. Luckily, it wasn’t too full, and she still had time to uncork the soap and add it.
Minutes later, Beverly had music playing through the portable speaker—it was her bath-time playlist—tea-lights lit and spaced evenly along the edge of the tub, and fluffy pink towels hung on the rack on the wall. She stripped off her last bit of clothing and toed her way into the warm water.
She sank down into the bubbles, letting the water line reach her shoulders, then leaned her head back against the edge of the tub opposite the faucet. These bubble baths were the best part of Beverly’s day, a time when she could finally be completely relaxed and calm. And Wren was right—the Perpetual Pear did smell nice.
After a couple songs, beads of sweat coated Beverly’s forehead and upper lip—she could taste the saltiness. She shimmied down and let herself slip completely underwater, submerging her entire being in the soapy warm cleanliness.
But when she came back up into the cool air, something seemed off.
She sat up and wiped the water from her eyes, and then Beverly realized that everything was all wrong.
It wasn’t just cool; it was cold, like the window had been left wide open and the heat shut off. And it was dark. At first she thought her candles must’ve been blown out or splashed on or knocked over, but then she realized they were no longer there at all. The afternoon light that should’ve filtered through the blinds of the bathroom window had been replaced with inky blackness. And it was silent—no sign of the speaker or her phone that had been bluetoothing music to it.
Once her eyes had a chance to adjust to the sudden darkness, Beverly came to the conclusion that she was no longer in her bathroom at all. Nothing was the same except herself and the smell of the bubble bath.
She quickly got out of the tub and dried off with a thin, white towel she found hanging on a wrought iron hook in the dark wood-paneled wall—this was nothing like the slim silver bar fastened to the painted white wall of her bathroom.
But as she examined everything more closely, she realized it still resembled her bathroom in layout—it was just the furnishings and décor that differed… and the vibe. This bathroom wasn’t cozy and welcoming like hers; it was eerie. Still, the toilet was where it should be, though not as it should be, and the sink was to the toilet’s left, but instead of a basin resting in a marble countertop, it was a stone pedestal sink.
Where her dirty clothes had lain in a pile on the floor before, there was now a neat stack of dark folded fabric: simple but sturdy clothing, which Beverly quickly put on. She twisted her wet hair into a bun using the hairband on her wrist, which for some reason hadn’t disappeared or changed—perhaps because it was directly on her.
At this point, she’d come up with an explanation for everything: she was dreaming. She’d fallen asleep in the tub, and being in the water was making her have a really strange dream. But even as she thought it, she knew it couldn’t be true. She’d never before been aware of dreaming, and she’d never had a dream that felt like this.
It was all too real.
She decided she might as well go check things out.
She stepped over to the bathroom door, which, like the walls, was now of dark wood instead of painted white. The plain silver knob had been replaced by an antique-looking bronze handle that curved and had elegant embellishments, but nevertheless, Beverly turned it and opened the door.