Everything Is Filthy and I Am All Chores

"A Clean Story" by Sandra Sylvia Nelson

Everything Is Filthy and I Am All Chores

A Clean Story

I was taking a bath in the old clawfoot tub and noticed a lot of garbage floating around me so I pulled the chain to drain it. My daughter and I watched as the water left a pile of black bananas and carrot coins behind. “Where did all this come from,” I asked her.

“I was cleaning out the fridge and threw all this in the tub. I didn’t want to stop up the sink.”

I started filling buckets with the stuff so that she could dump them outside in the compost box. I noticed both shepherds were nudging the door to be let out. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since they went out. The door was locked so I had to get the key. When I came back with the key, the large male, Hazard, was squatting over a rolled-up rug and I stopped him. Behind lay what looked like one segment of a super-size Tootsie Roll. Not too bad. It could have been worse—it could have been soft. I opened the door and both dogs ran downstairs. The outside door had been left open and snow had drifted up, covering the basement door. I could see the jobs, with my name on them, piling up.

Standing on the porch, I noticed the service door on the garage was open. There was a white van in the drive with men going in and out of the garage. They saw me. Quickly I jumped into my white sedan and blocked their vehicle from moving. The overhead garage door was open too and I saw my red pickup decked out with a red cap looking like a miniature fire truck. “What the hell?” I said.

The man in charge said, “We’re only doing our job. We were hired to do this.”

I said, “I want your names and your driver’s licenses now.”

The one in charge reached into his pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper with a name scribbled on it. Another scrap had a license number scribbled on it, which had been crossed out and corrected about five times.

“None of this is real,” I said. “I’m calling the police.” When I turned I felt a hand slip under my shirt and a cold knife against my back. I fainted.

When I came to I was back in the bathroom. My daughter had removed the tub and was trying to dig more carrots out of the pipe. “You can’t just put the tub back in place and expect it not to leak.”

Water had leaked out all over the floor and soaked about thirty pairs of her dirty jeans that she had stuffed behind the tub because she was too lazy to take them downstairs to the wash room. I pulled the jeans out and handed them to her to take into the basement. I went outside to check the yard and garage. The men had left. I noticed a side window in the lower flat was open. I peered inside and heard noises. I tried to yell, “You better leave,” but no sound came out of my moving lips. So I slapped my hand a few times against the inside wall to make them hear me and leave. I pulled the window down to keep out the weather.

I went back in for a new bath. While I was in the water my daughter came in with a plate. On it was that pooper that looked like a brown sushi. “What should I do with this?” she said.

“Why is it on a plate?” I asked.

“I didn’t want to touch it, so I used a fork to push it onto this plate.”

“Throw it outside,” I said.

“Okay.” She set it on the edge of the sink and started to put her makeup on. She was at that age where she couldn’t go outside without makeup. She adjusted her shirt and smiled at herself a few times in the mirror. Then she reached over for the hairbrush and her sleeve brushed over it. This really got her flustered. “I can’t wear this now.” And she started taking off her shirt and accidentally knocked the plate into the tub. I quickly moved back and the tub tipped backwards. The water came out in a wave and took off into the kitchen. I tried to imagine how I was going to get all this cleaned up, and do all the chores I had lined up for the day. Everything was wet and I still wasn’t clean.

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