A Bath

The bath was always empty, caked with mud from the last person who decided to lay in the waters of the giant, earth-made tub. Sometimes, a group of people would fill the bath, laughing and washing each other. Other times, lone strangers would sit on the edge, feet dangling in the cool, calm waters, singing to themselves before moving on.

Heavy boots dragged along the ground, crackling wheezing coming from a bird chest, muffled by layers of tattered shirts and hoodies. Sweat paved a way on their face, leaving behind a trail of clean skin as the droplets fell from their brow, cleaning away layers of dirt from the long trek they were on. Grey wisps of hair managed to sneak out of their scarf, conversing with the grey eyebrows about their long walk.

As the traveler made their way down the beaten, but hidden, path, they stopped to catch their breath, the wheezing now knocking and rattling their lungs. They took a deep breath, tilting their head back to the sky, watching the stars rise to sing their song to the birds. The yellows, reds, and purples of the evening sky turned into inky blues and never-ending shades of black. Glowing eyes watched the traveler from bushes and trees, some walking behind by a few meters as if a guide.

The bath sat in an open field, with no trees or bushes to hide one’s modesty. The traveler hummed to themselves as they stripped off their dirty clothes, tossing them to the side, the moon the only voyeur that roamed the plane watching.

The traveler walked down the steps into the bath, feet on bare earth and stone. No water touched their body, the bath still devoid of water, but the traveler could feel hot water on their skin, could see the steam rising in front of their face. As they made their way to the middle of the bath, the dirt from their trek trailed behind them, sitting on top of the air as if it were water before sinking down to the dirt and stone floor.

The traveler floated on their back, watching the stars twinkle, listening to the water babble before taking their last breath. Their body sank to the bottom of the bath, the stone and earth swallowing them whole. Their body traveled through the earth, hair, skin, and nails returning to the dirt. Muscle and bone continued through the earth before being burnt away by the molten core. As their eyeballs and nervous system kept falling, they dissolved once the core turned into the many stars they had witnessed a few moments ago. A bright light was all that was left of the traveler, floating still through the waves of the universe. Their essence danced through the dark infinity, sprinting past black holes and black suns, kissing newly formed planets before rushing back from whence they came.

As they started to reshape, reform themselves, someone would scream that their water broke and it was time.

The traveler let out a scream as they came back, a witchdoctor, a shaman, a nurse, would wipe the red, moist earth from their bodies, handing them back to their birth giver to start their journey all over again.

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