The water rolls over the handprints, turning the bath into a ribbed battleground of fighting colours. I lie back and watch the patterns battle with each other, realising that oil paints, birthday invitation cards and a nearly one year old boy, are not the wisest of blends.

However, this is ‘me time’ and it won’t be disturbed by a minor oil slick.

lan and Bobby are downstairs, enjoying their ‘quality time’.

All aspects of our lives are attached to the label ‘time.’ Unlike the ‘pre Bobby time’.

My eyes drift to the solid red handprint, plastered on my left arm. Still clinging on like a tattoo that’s reluctant to let go. It is comfortably winning the fight with the hot water. The shape of the hand is so perfect, I can see the lines that run across Bobby’s palm. Pushing away a few resilient bubbles, I notice the central crease is very short. Worryingly short. Isn’t that the life line? Would a palm reader hide behind her scarf, rather than tell the truth about what she reads?

I frantically start to rub at the paint with my finger; not to obliterate the print, but to lengthen the line; extend Bobby’s life.

Hurriedly, I get out of the bath, creating a rainbow smudge on the towel, matching the one flowing down the sides of the bath.

If time is short, I am not going to waste it on me.

Bobby is asleep and it’s not ‘bedtime.’ I grab his curled hands and ease my fingers into the little fighting fists. The movement wakes him up and eyes look at me, full of hope. Time for food?

I stare at his palms, ignoring his resistance. Yes, the lines are short.

Too short.

Far too short.

His tears start to roll down his pink, hungry face.

My tears fall silently into his hair.

I begin to gently massage his head, in an attempt to calm us both down.

It immediately works for him.

My fingers circling; feeling for a clairvoyant’s reassurance that all is well.

The soft, delicate skull is my crystal ball; a vehicle to the future. I’m playing the fortune teller, yet it’s me who needs to know the unknown.

Tell me, what time will we have together?

He refocuses on me and breaks into one of his heart-stopping smiles. A smile, brighter than any oil painting. I have no option but to return a smile, one that is lit up by my very own little pot of gold.

His short time line wraps itself around my wedding ring finger.

Taking a deep breath, I realise we have plenty of time on our hands.

I pick him up and flamenco into the kitchen.

It’s definitely dance time.


Originally published: MLS Anthology