Every day, Monday to Friday, she stood at the picture window and watched him pull out of the driveway. It was a Tuesday. He backed onto the street, braked, shifted into first and headed off to work. She waved as he looked back at her through the passenger window. The truck disappeared behind the front hedge and reappeared briefly as it passed by the Smith’s house. She watched the tail lights gleam against the early morning darkness and the rain slicked asphalt until they were swallowed by the next neighbour’s laurel. She didn’t know their name.
She peered out into the darkness, hoping for ghostly silhouettes of trees, any hint of pre-morning light. There was none. Well, she thought to herself, it will be here soon enough. She turned around and squared her shoulders. There was a lot of work to be done and only so many hours ‘til he came home. She heaved a big breath in and out of her nose, punctuating it with a prim little nod of her head. Nothing was perfunctory when it came to keeping a good house. She and her husband had had a talk about that once.
She marched into the kitchen and began. She lifted the fitted cutting board off the sink top and placed it on the counter beside. In the sink was the soaking lasagna dish from last night. His favorite. The rest of the dishes were waiting in the dishwasher, except for the morning coffee pot and cups. It was a French press. It made the best coffee and she learned to drink hers black. She retrieved the Tupperware compost container from below the sink and emptied the grounds into it. She pulled a rubber spatula from the appropriate drawer and carefully scraped and coaxed all the bits out before tapping them both clean into the container. Then she rinsed the pot. Too many grounds will eventually clog a sink. An ounce of prevention. She proceeded to the back door and carefully emptied the container into the big bin, retied the bag tightly and secured the lid. She was careful not to spill, as it would attract vermin and unwanted insects.
Back in the kitchen, she decided to wash everything by hand before she got the laundry on. She rinsed her container and trusty tool, left them in the basin, and let the water run hot. She stoppered the drain and poured in the measured amount of dish soap. She giggled at herself and upended the squeeze bottle once more and poured it in like it was pancake Tuesday. It looked like a luxurious bubble bath, the kind she’d seen once in a movie.
She emptied the top rack of the dishwasher into the water and flattened out a fresh tea towel on the counter as a drying platform. Everything had, of course, already been rinsed before going in – hot water for sugars and starchy foods, cold soaking for proteins. Cleaning and rinsing of the glassware and bowls was an easy task. The cutlery came out next, each little partition neatly held its own grouping of knives, and forks, small spoons and large. She did admit that it was an efficient system as she dumped them all together into the water. Languorously, she washed the plates, one large bowl and a few containers before addressing the utensils. She did the same with the coffee press and cups. She dried them all and stacked them away into and onto their allotted space. The water was still hot and unsurprisingly clean as she washed the lasagna dish. Everything tucked tidily away, she drained the water and cleaned the sink, board and counters. She dried it all with the tea towels and added the linens to the basket for the wash. A perfectly clean kitchen for him when he gets home.
She carried the plastic hamper downstairs to the washer and put everything in. It was a small load. She added the correct amount of soap for the size, chose warm water and a speed wash. She climbed the stairs back up and noticed that dawn had broken. She had missed noticing its arrival. Hello new day, she thought. And welcome.
Her next stop was their bedroom. She paused in the doorway. She had not made the bed and had not added the sheets to the wash. She looked at the disheveled bedding and smiled. She pulled the comforter and top sheets off and onto the floor by the foot of the bed and tossed the pillows off on her side. Crawling carefully onto the bed, she untucked the bottom sheet, flipped it over sideways and re-tucked it all back in with the crisp hospital corners. She stood and admired it for a moment before remaking the bed to snuff.
She strolled back into the living room. There was enough daylight coming in now to turn off the few lights. Just the floors left now, she mused. She grabbed the broom and dustpan and swept, as she always did, before doing the floors. There were only a few bits under the table from last night’s dinner. She deposited them in the waste bin, and exchanged her tools for the wash bucket and a clean rag. As she set them in the sink to fill, the washer dinged complete. She toodled down the steps, transferred the clothes into the dryer, and set time dry for twenty minutes. She pressed the start button and realized she was smiling. I could be done in twenty minutes? Her eyes refocussed from the tumbling to her reflection in the little window. She pulled her hand away from her lips and strode up the stairs.
She filled the bucket with warm water and a few drops of dish soap, got down on her hands and knees and began her daily ritual. In all fairness, she didn’t mind not using a mop. She liked a clean floor as much as anyone, and there really was no substitute for old fashioned elbow grease and attention to detail. She emptied and changed the water twice, out of habit rather than necessity. She had finished the bathroom and was rinsing and wringing when the dryer alerted her that the time had come.
She re-cleaned the sink and threw the damp rag in the waste bin. She popped into the bathroom, emptied the little trash basket into bin’s bag, tied the ends up and marched back into the kitchen. She refilled the bin with the waiting bag from its bottom, placed it and the bucket back under the sink and shut the door.
She almost scampered down the stairs to retrieve the laundry. She pulled all the clothes into the plastic hamper instead of the clean basket, and emptied the lint screen into its collector for kindling starter. It was, by all accounts, an excellent fuel. She strode upstairs and folded the clothes on the kitchen table as the floor was still damp in the hall. A tidy bundle hugged in her left arm, she picked up the hamper, and walked into the bedroom for the last time. She tucked the clothes neatly away and placed the hamper on its spot. She removed her wool slippers, pulled off her heavy sweater and placed them on the bed. She smoothed the arms wide. She removed her ring and set it firmly on top. She turned away and stepped over the threshold into the hallway. She was looking at the tidy bag of garbage she’d left on the kitchen floor. She proceeded.
She stopped at the hall closet and put on her good coat, and tied a scarf around her head. She put on her winter boots, grabbed the brown mittens and the clear plastic umbrella.
Dawn surveyed the place from room to room before she left and made a last check to make sure the fridge was plentifully stocked. She picked up the bag and nudged the thermostat all the way up to a reasonable sixty eight degrees. She left her keys in the basket, turned on the hall light and made sure the door was locked before she shut it behind her and finally greeted the new day.
When Stan got home, the bag of garbage waited outside the front door.
About the Creator
Playwright and poet.
My goal as a writer is to write thoughtful pieces of prose, poetry and stage plays. Hopefully, the end results are entertaining and engaging, with layers of meaning that make sense to the whole or a theme therein.