The rubber duck sat on the edge of the bath. Water ran, creating a blanket of bubbles on the surface. Sophie eased herself into the water, her skin stinging a little in objection before adjusting to the heat. She sank chin deep into the sudsy concoction. A few deep breaths helped her relax, tense muscles appreciating the warmth and beginning to uncoil. Sophie’s eyes closed for a moment before she rose, turned the tap off and returned to her sanctuary. Eyes closing again, her breathing slowed as she calmed after a hectic day. The silence was comforting, just bubbles and the lapping water helping to sooth her senses. The stillness was rare – a blissful change from the norm. A moment to be savoured.
A shrill tone interrupted her slumber. Agitated at the disturbance Sophie glanced at her phone, peering over the edge of the bath to see it nestled on top of the pile of her discarded clothes. Realising the inevitable she sighed but reached to it and answered the call.
“Samantha, hi, is everything okay?” she asked. Even as she spoke, she could hear her daughter wailing in the background of the call.
“Sophie, I’m so sorry but Jessica really wants to go home. I’ve tried everything I can think of and – ”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sophie interrupted, keeping her tone pleasant. She smiled, resigned to her fate. “I’ll be round in fifteen minutes for her. Thanks Sam.”
Samantha said goodbye with a tone of resignation, disappointed in the perceived failure she felt in herself at being unable to settle Jessica for her mother in Sophie’s absence. She knew that Sophie wouldn’t mind having to come and get Jessica but also knew that her friend could really have used the time to herself. As single mothers they were very close and almost co-parented. Samantha’s own daughter often spent nights with Sophie and Jessica, allowing Samantha a chance to catch up on sleep and chores without a tagalong. Unfortunately, Jessica had never been able to spend the night away from her mother – no matter how keen she seemed to be beforehand.
Sophie climbed out of the bath, pulling the plug. Throwing on the same clothes she had just removed minutes before, she prepared to collect her seven year old daughter. The excitement at having a sleepover with her best friend had been building all week but it seemed that Jessica just wasn’t ready to spend the night away from home just yet. Sophie looped her hair into a loose ponytail and found her car keys so she could make the ten minute car journey to pick Jessica up. A little frustrated that her own plans had to change, she had to admit that she didn’t really mind. She was already in disbelief that her “baby” was seven years old. There was plenty of time for her to grow up but for now Sophie didn’t mind being needed by her daughter. She would always be there for Jessica – no matter how far she had to go or what she needed, Sophie was sure she would be there. Always.