Champagne bath.

Written for Trifecta. She soaked in a bath tub topped off with a bottle of champagne too flat to drink. She held a book in one hand and a hand-rolled cigarette in the other. She burned candles, their flames balanced on all four corners like controlled suicide threats.

Still holding the accoutrements, she submerged her head, allowing alcoholic bath water into her nose, ears and mouth; while locking her eyes shut like windows. She decided to count the seconds.

At the same moment she hit ten, the ten-second countdown began. Her drunken neighbors shouted from the apartment below, echoing through the walls, through the water, invading the perverted hideaway of her thoughts.

Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!

She broke the surface, squeezing air into the very bottom of her lungs, and it was not unlike being born. She heard, though she wished she didn't, bells and explosions and the silence of a far-away kiss. Exhaling every last drop, she completed her first breath of the year.

On her second breath, she dragged on the cigarette and resumed the novel where she'd left off. She was free of anticipation as she lived in the shadow of expectation. Everything that mattered was behind her, or so she believed.