Written by Rachel Noll and illustrated by Shelby Mabery
With some hesitation, I knock on the bathroom door where Bonnie is taking a bath. The various noises, the giggling, the talking to herself and squeak of toys has stopped. A small pang of alarm redirects my attention away from the novel I’m reading and propels me up to check on her.
“Bonnie?” I say softly, “Are you almost done?”
I receive no answer. My heart jumps into my throat as I twist the knob and open the door.
Everything appears normal at first glance. The tub is halfway full of bubbles and water. Naked barbies sit on the lip of the porcelain, their wet hair dripping down the side of the tub. Bonnie is sitting waist deep in the water where I left her after I helped her rinse the shampoo from her hair.
She doesn’t look at me, doesn’t respond right away. Instead she stares down at the water.
“Bonnie,” I say again, “Are you okay?”
I kneel down next to her to get a better look. She turns to look at me and her expression is serious and morose, unlike anything I’ve ever seen from her.
Her pupils are dilated, the black pits wide with only a thin layer of green iris surrounding it. Her brown hair splays around her shoulders like a dark cloak.
“Bonnie,” I say, trying to prompt her again into telling me what’s wrong.
She looks at me and from the corner of her mouth, shiny black liquid, like motor oil, dribbles out. For a second, it’s all I can to do just stand there and stare. Then I burst into action, wiping at her mouth with the sheets, shushing her even though she isn’t saying anything, shushing myself more than her.
“Bonnie, what happened?” I say, “Bonnie, did you eat something?”
She nods her head.
“Okay, okay,” I say, glad that she’s responding at least, glad that at least I know that poison control is the number to call.
“What did you eat?”
She opens her mouth to answer and I see something inside her, something hard and black and mangled. It tries to escape, an edge creeping out the side of her mouth. Her small pink lips close around it and it recedes back between them.
I stare at her, my fingers perched above the buttons on my cell phone.
“Open your mouth,” I command, with a quiver in my voice.