The morning had to get better.
It didn’t. Eileen arrived in the bathroom just in time to see what looked like a scrawny, dirty little man, disappear down her bathtub drain. There, scrawled into the grime on the tub wall read,
“The Pegasus for the girl. Or you will miss her baby brown curls. Nestor.”
Stuck to the bottom of the message with a wad of chewing gum was a pink ribbon still holding a few strands of brown curly hair. It was the same ribbon Bonnie had worn to school.
The room spun, “Bonnie! My Bonnie!” Someone had her, some one who wanted ... Propping herself against the sink she pulled herself over to the window and pushed it open, “Bruce!” Bruce stood by the fence, the long stem of a prize astilbe hanging out of his mouth. He was ignoring her, “Bruce!”
“I need proper nourishment, many a pegasus has died from ...”
Eileen gripped her hair, “Bruce, someone has my daughter!”
Bruce turned, eyes wide, ears back, and galloped to the window, “What?”
“Someone,” she glanced back at the grimy words, “I can’t quite make it out ... Nestor? He has my daughter. I don’t even know who he is.”
Bruce blew hard through his nostrils, “Nestor. He found me.”
Eileen’s eyes fixed on Bruce, “What do you mean, he found you?”
“You had better come outside so we can talk, quietly, his Pipe Haggers are quiet efficient.” he glanced through the window at the writing on the tub. “And I’d rinse that off right away, it’s very corrosive.”
Eileen gently took down the ribbon and hair and laid it on a towel by the tub. It seemed that the slightest gust of her breath would blow the strands of Bonnie’s hair away and leave her with nothing. Her own parents had seemed so strong when she was little, so invincible. Every danger melted away with the sight of their pant leg. She wasn’t invincible, come on, she could hardly get the soap scum off the tub. Now, here she was with a flying horse and a Pipe Hagger, whatever that was. She was a housewife, for goodness sake, with rough hands and a round bum to boot, what could she do? She glanced down at the ribbon again. Bonnie was so small, even though she was five Eileen still rocked her to sleep at night. “Momma’s coming little one. Momma’s coming.” she murmured.
Gripping the Super Scum Remover in both hands she aimed at the letters and squeezed the trigger hard. A blast of white foam coated the tub in swaths that slowly dripped together, gathering speed on the way to the drain. For a moment she could see the letters turning into a blotchy mess and then ... BOOM! Eileen staggered back as the air was filled with rancid smoke and bright streaks of light. When she finally opened her eyes, there was her tub, clean and bright, just like the day they had bought it. It was stunning.
Eileen staggered out the screen door, her hair still steaming from the explosion and gave a little wave with the Scum Remover can. She wasn’t sure she could let it go. All the muscles in her body were so tense they wouldn’t release on their own. “Hey Bruce. This stuff actually does take out scum.”
Bruce dropped the branch of the African Fig that he was chewing, “what happened to you?”
“Cleaning.” Eileen’s muscles suddenly released and she melted down onto the sidewalk.
“Really? Petula had said there was no magic in this world. Hmm. Do you always clean this way?”
Eileen just stared. “Always.”