The bathroom ceiling was leaking. Corinna watched a drop of water falling and landing in the white bathtub. Studying the brown cork tiles, she wondered when they’d give up and tumble down. The yellow stains upon them and the pale green wall paper, told her the leak had been going on for some time now.
Looking down, she turned the taps of the bathtub on and watched clear water gush out of them. The plumbing groaned in the background and the newly fixed boiler added its voice as well. Corinna dipped her hand under the hot water tap and felt the warmish water against her skin. Smiling, she waited till the water had fully heated then put the plug in.
She stripped off all of her clothes, discarding the worn leather jacket, thin jumpers, t-shirt and vest top first. Her boots, jeans and leggings came next. Standing in her underwear, she got out her wash kit from her hiking bag and placed it in the sink, next to two towels she had found.
With the bath filling up, she got out the things she needed then took her underwear off. Putting one foot into the tub, she checked the temperature before getting in. Sitting then sliding down, she rested her head back and shut her eyes for a few moments. Water continued to pour around her feet causing her to feel both hot and cold at the same time. Corinna turned the taps off and settled back again. She listened to the gale force wind howling into the cracked window and driving the rain outside.
Glad she had escaped yet another stormy night, she fell to wondering for the countless time why the house had electricity and water still. Perhaps, and the thought chilled her for a moment, the house wasn’t abandoned? She listened, trying to decide if that was footsteps and voices she heard, or just the wind and the pipes again?
She sank further into the tub, not wanting to listen any more. Instead she asked herself when the last time she’d been in a bathtub was? A year and half ago or there about, she finally calculated, around the same time everything had gone belly up. No! I don’t want to think about it! Corinna thought and slapped the water with her hand.
She breathed deeply and pulling herself up to wash. Trying to ignore her thinning body, she moved on to wash her hair then lay in the soapy water. Shutting her eyes, she listened to the rain rattling against the window and the dripping from the ceiling. The boiler hummed in the distance and the wind knocked tree branches together outside.
A creaking noise, made Corinna’s eyes flashed open. She sat up causing the water to slosh around her and out of the tub. She listened, but heard nothing further. Wait what was that? The same sound came again. Corinna shook it off, deciding it was only the wind blowing something, a door or a window? Open and shut.
Trying to laugh it off, Corinna settled back down and put her flannel over her face. Breathing in the hot, soapy water, she emptied her head of everything. A minute went by, then she took the flannel off and soaked it in the water. She washed again, delaying getting out further. Wishing she’d brought one of the books she had spotted in the bedroom, Corinna looked around the bathroom. It seemed empty and mouldy. Pulling a face, she draped the flannel on her face again and listened to the wind howling.
A soft tapping, followed by more creaking, brought her out of a light doze. Corinna struggled upwards, the flannel dropping from her face. She thought about calling out, but decided against it. Maybe whoever it was wouldn’t come in here and she could sneak out. Almost laughing out loud at herself, Corinna sat up and climbed out of the tub. Grabbing a towel, she covered herself. Drying off, she found some cleaner clothes in her hiking bag, dressing she gathered up her stuff and crept out of the room.
She paused at the top of the staircase and debated leaving or not. Hearing no other sounds, she decided to risk it and walked into the room she had been staying in. Closing the door and setting down the bag, she grabbed the chair and slotted it against the door. Feeling safer, she got into the bed and lay down. Wrapping herself in the blankets and snuggling into the pillows, she tried to sleep. The sound of the rain and wind helped calm her and she felt herself dozing soon enough.
The creaking of the stairs, stirred Corinna. She froze and listened. There were footsteps coming up and heavy breathing. She bit her lip and tried to keep quiet. She heard the footsteps go along the hall and into the master bedroom. The door shut and she listened to the sound of someone preparing to get into bed. Holding her breath, she waited till she heard bed springs squeaking then got up.
Corinna quickly put some more clothes on and her boots. She slipped her hiking bag on and moved the chair from the door. Slowly, she opened it and peered out. There was a light on in the hallway and under the master bedroom door, she knew she hadn’t turned them on. She crept down the stairs and to the front door. How had she so badly mistake this house as being abandoned? It probably belonged to some old person who’d been away for a while.
Corinna unlocked the front door and stepped out into the storm. Blinking away rain, she walked into the night.