Looking for Fred

‘Dammit, Fred,’ Minerva scowled at him as she wandered the house, checking every room. Where could he be?

         ‘In here, Minerva,’ came a call from down the hallway, and she opened the door to the guest bedroom. She frowned — it was empty.

         ‘Just in here,’ she heard her husband say, closer this time. She walked into the room properly and rounded the corner to the ensuite. And there he was — naked as the day he was born, shivering in the water that had long gone cold.

         ‘Fred!’ she cried, rushing forward to wrap him in one of the embroidered towels she kept special for their guests.

         ‘I’m alright,’ he smiled up at her, his voice only wavering a little bit.

         ‘Why didn’t you get out?’ she asked, pulling the plug and helping him to his wobbly feet.

         ‘I did try,’ he smiled jokingly. ‘Just couldn’t quite get…’

         He struggled to lift his foot above the rim of the bath, as if to prove his point, and Minerva had to support his weight. He slipped slightly as the water gurgled around his ankles, but she — somehow — managed to catch him before he fell completely.

         ‘Well, that’s it then,’ she said, once they managed to slowly coax him onto the tile. ‘We need to look at getting those bath modifications for Sydney homes Belinda recommended.’

         ‘Oh, we don’t need to do that,’ Fred began to protest, but she cut him off.

         ‘What would have happened if I hadn’t been here? Or had taken a nap?’ she pressed, as he towelled himself dry. ‘You would have frozen to death in there. Or…’ she cut off, pressing a hand to her face. ‘Or something worse.’

         A silence settled between them. Fred wrapped the towel around his shoulders, with a sigh.

         ‘As long as it’s one of those easy step bathtub conversion,’ he murmured. ‘Nothing too fancy.’

         Minerva snorted and rolled her eyes, sliding over to sit next to her husband.

         ‘Thank you,’ she whispered, patting his hand. He smiled weakly up at her.

         And they sat in each other’s silence, on the cold bathroom floor.