Sara sunk low enough in the bathtub that the water covered he chin. From somewhere overhead, the fan hummed, but for Sara it was all about the hot water and the steam which rose from its surface. Her toe throbbed but she kept that submerged, and only her head and knees protruded from her near-scalding immersion. Her left knee had a nasty welt on the outside of it, no doubt from her tumble at the bottom of the stairs, and would surely bruise within a day or two. Otherwise, after a quick inventory as she had undressed for the bath, her body seemed relatively unscathed.
It was her mind that worried her. Had she hallucinated a ten-point-oh earthquake in her backyard this evening? Was she losing her mind? Had she been somehow drugged? She had felt the earth tremble beneath her feet, she was positive of that. She hadn't imagined it.
Sara groaned. She was too young to suffer a mental breakdown, wasn't she? Full of confusion and embarrassment, she allowed the water to completely cover her head. She felt a couple tiny bubbles escape her nostrils, but held her breath as the weight of tonight's events slowly ebbed away, as if the water was leeching her bad karma from her body.
What about that book? Surely it had nothing to do with her bad night. It was weird, but it meant nothing.
Sara rose from the water and puckered her lips in thought. She wondered if reading some of the passages from that book had triggered something within her. Perhaps seeing her dead father's handwriting had been a traumatic shock and had sent her over the edge.
She shook her head and yanked the drain stopper. She was much too stubborn to believe in that psychological mumbo-jumbo, there had to be some other explanation.
A sickness, perhaps? Was she ill? She wrapped a big, terrycloth towel around her shoulders and approached the mirror above the sink. She wiped off the condensation and leaned in close to inspect her image. Were her eyes sunken and empty? Was her skin sallow or wan? Did her hair give any indication at all that something was wrong?
No. She looked a little tired, maybe, but otherwise looked like she always did.
A knock at the door made her jump; at least she didn't yelp. Uncle Peter was on the other side. He asked, "Hey Sara? How are you feeling? Do you think that toe is broken?"
She looked down at her feet and wiggled her toes. She decided it was not broken, but that nail looked pretty awful. "I think the toe's fine," she answered, "but is it possible to lose a toenail?"
"Oh, sure it is."
Sara scowled, "Yuck."
"There's something else."
From the other side of the door, Uncle Peter was quiet a moment before responding, "I checked the news; there's nothing on there about an earthquake."
Sara looked down into the sink drain and chewed on her bottom lip as she shook her head slowly with mounting frustration, "No, I guess there wouldn't be, would there?" It was as if the night itself was mocking her.