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Dark story of a woman consenting to be used.
We put the vessel on the burner and Brett lit it with his cigarette lighter. I wondered why he had one, but got interested in him using his multi tool to loosen a screw near the burner. "What are you doing?" I asked, curiously.
"The flame is a little yellow. That means carbon monoxide. I am adjusting the air mix to get a clear, blue flame. Hotter, and no CO." My chemistry teacher's words came back to me when she had mentioned a stoichiometric mixture. He rotated the air intake until the flame was pale blue, then reset the screw and turned it up a bit. Still blue, the vessel of water was heating up, and so was the room. So was I. I turned on the thermometer and it was already 49 degrees the bedroom much warmer than anywhere else in the house. We closed the door to keep in the warmth and went to the living room.
My mommy was cooking,or rather heating up, some soup over the Coleman stove, and served it to us. The steaming bowl of goodness warmed me up, and we were ready to watch TV, but with no power, we could not. We found a battery powered radio and tuned into A Prairie Home Companion. That show was so good, always funny. All three of us listened and laughed about the ups and downs at Lake Wobegone. It still was cold in the living room, so I went to the bedroom to see how it was doing.
Using my trusty thermometer, the room air was now a balmy 54 degrees. The water was now at 138. I have used Fahrenheit because most Americans would not know Celsius from centigrade (it is an inside joke for us girl geeks). Soon I could take a real bath! The burner was still clear blue, no smoke nor smell, and I did not get a headache after spending five minutes in the room. CO poisoning almost always starts with a headache, my chemistry teacher told me. By the way, I was very attracted to her. She tried to be a nun, but did not quite make it. We talked a lot after science class, and we just liked each other a lot. I still call her "Sister Betty", and she calls me "My young scientist." Our relationship will be another topic, but just let me tell you that she was, and still is, adventurous.
I told them how nice if felt in there, and we decided to move the radio there and listen in the relative warmth. The "commercial" for Powdermilk Biscuits was just on, and all of a sudden, all three of us realized that for the first time in three days we were not uncomfortably cold. After days in the low teens outside, and the low 40s inside, 54 feels really good. I reset the thermometer, and it was now 59 degrees, and the kettle was starting to become towards the boil. So was I, and although I did not realize it at the time, so was Mommy.
We went into the bedroom and closed the door to keep in the warmth. I brought a large saucepan to dip out hot water. "Mommy, do you want to take a bath? We have enough hot water for you, me, and Brett!"
She was ready, three days since she had done anything but towel off a little. I ran some of the tap water into the tub, then added enough of the boiling water to make it a comfortable 105 degrees. It only came up about four inches, but to a girl who had not bathed properly in three days, it was an ocean. She started to get out of her "layered look" and stepped into the bathtub. It was getting dark by now, and Brett and I went and found half a dozen candles. We also found a liter of gin, some fresh grapefruits, and some club soda. Since there was nothing else to so, Brett and I decided to see if we could get Mommy tipsy. We both knew that she liked grapefruit.
We sat up the candles, well, two of them, in the bathroom so she could see to bathe. We also drew enough water to fill the vessel again, and Brett turned the burner to where it would heat it without getting too hot in the room. I checked, and now it was 63 degrees in the bedroom, and no one had even a hint of a headache. Mommy could wash tomorrow morning again!
Now that it was getting warmer, the "layered look" had to go.