‘Captain?’ I heard someone call for me, as I floated in the warm suds of my bathwater.
‘Mmmm-yes?’ I responded lazily. ‘What is it?’
‘It’s the Admiral, sir.’
‘The Admiral?’ my eyes snapped open and I all but jumped to attention. My messenger quickly pivoted, seeing my instinct to stand up.
‘He said he has something important to discuss with you,’ the man said. ‘That was the end of his message.’
‘Go then,’ I shooed him away, and he sprinted away in thankful relief. I hoisted myself out of the tub and wrapped a towel around my waist. When did that get so big? I frowned, noting how tight the towel was to stretch around.
A knock hammered on my door and I looked up from my daydream of when I was a much younger, skinnier man. ‘What is it?’ I barked.
In answer, the door unexpectedly swung open. My vision flashed red.
‘Who the hell do you think you are, sailor, bursting in on your captain when he’s—Admiral.’
I quashed my anger and threw myself into an unusual salute – one hand pressed to my forehead, the other holding my towel firmly up.
‘At ease,’ he smirked. ‘I see you’re enjoying a bath.’
‘Sir?’ I frowned.
‘That’s actually why I’m here,’ he went on. ‘We’ve hired some professionals to do a bath tub conversion, navy-wide. They’ll be starting with this ship and working their way through the fleet.’
‘Bat tub conversion, sir?’ I frowned. ‘What does that—’
‘We’re replacing them,’ he said. ‘Too many senior officers are getting… complacent in the bath.’
He looked pointedly at my pink skin, and I pulled the towel around me tighter.
‘So these bathtub modifications for seniors, are for senior officers—’ I began
‘Not modifications!’ the Admiral crowed. ‘They’re being replaced, torn out.’
‘Replaced with what?’ I asked, aware that my voice had lifted an octave.
The Admiral smiled at me and took a step forwards, until he was almost touching my bare skin.
‘Showers,’ he whispered.
It was all I could do not to cry.