When Caris was a child her uncle often came to visit. She knew when he was coming because there would be a new bar of soap hanging from the shower attachment in the bathroom. ‘Soap-on-a- Rope’.
It was greenish coloured, swirled with white and had the name ‘Zest’ carved into one side. The soap was curved to fit into the palm of your hand. The rope just made it handy.
Caris went to have a shower one morning and saw the soap was hanging there, pristine, which meant her uncle was coming that night. By the end of the week it would become slick.
The logo would disappear and the odd hair would be left embedded in its slimy exterior. He never stayed longer than one bar of soap.
Caris detested her uncle. She couldn’t say why exactly. There was something in the way he tickled her brother, Bobby, that bothered her. He never tickled her.
At first she’d felt left out, then relieved. Her brother’s tortured laughter held a kind of hysteria that she found uncomfortable.
Her uncle’s name was Dan. He was her mother’s brother. Caris didn’t have a father. Was that what Dan was meant to be? Some kind of replacement? He didn’t behave like one.
Like what she imagined a father to be. She always thought you should feel safe around a father. Caris did not feel safe around Dan. She was afraid of him. She didn’t know how her brother felt.
One day Caris caught her brother Bobby in the bathroom washing his hands furiously in the sink. He was using the soap on a rope. ‘What are you doing?’ she’d asked.
‘I’m getting rid of him,’ Bobby said. ‘I’m wearing the soap down.’ He’d said the last word with a bit of a hiccup. He finished and turned off the tap.
He pulled the shower curtain back and balanced on the edge of the bathtub to hang the soap back on the shower head.
When he climbed down he turned on the tap again. ‘Now what are doing?’ Caris asked.
‘I’m washing my hands,’ said her brother. Caris left him but it seemed to her that it took him a very long time.
Her uncle left the next day.