The problem is the dirty ones.
At beginnings, they flash-smile out and exude innocence, shining necessary practicality. And I fall for it. A classic dependable mark every time. For a moment my mind conjures options—all of them delicious—ruined by the sea of obviously not clean dishes on not just one counter but every counter space stretched out in front of me to infinity.
I create a lounge chair in the comfy green softback from a distance by throwing my legs askew, sprawled right and bent backward left with no regard whatsoever about spinal support. Right now, I’m human Jello and disapproving eyes on disgusting targets. Not the feels today, so ain’t moving from this chair.
Let’s do this.
Got water bottle, fruit, protein energy bars, and bathroom access.
Bring. It. On.
See if I care.
It’s quiet at first.
Quiet at second too.
The rules of engagement. The ultimate stare-down contest. Time passage is grime passage. Hours of day and night tangled in a despicable conglomerate web of daylight-saving hours that leave only greyness and darkness and don’t save shit.
No time-lapse necessary, as I can’t miss the hardening of Saturday’s spice ginger oatmeal in the pot, remains of coconut rice noodles mixed in Quorn pieces with fresh mushrooms and petit pois on dinner plates becoming impromptu mime understudies effective in imitating eternal British sick-grey skies.
There’s no space left.
I mind-meld project with non-tested Vulcan powers.
There are low-level chuckles in return.
Be creepy why don’t ya?! Not cool dudes.
I’d like to imagine I’ve gone ‘nose-blind,’ but nope, this stench permeates.
The hardball play: I’m gonna obliterate these dishes or suffocate on mildew-molded-stuck swarms of flies trying.
Cereal bowls stack higher and higher—What the—???
Muted door openings and closures over my razor-sharp focus and uncountable days in seamless succession…
…I still own a teenager who eats but must be reminded a gazillion times to wash the dishes. A new bowl and glass every drink and every snack. Explanation, reason, and practicality ad finitum graciously heard and quickly forgotten.
How all this started. I tired.
*Eyes now narrow slits*
My end strategy of throwing the filthy miscreants into the garbage won’t materialize if they splinter to the floor on account of unsupportable heights. They’ve become a larger-than-life bar graph capitalizing on mathematic principles but banking on window visibility by the neighbors. That and the fact I have a ceiling. Someone could legitimately think there’s been a medical emergency in my apartment. An abduction. A maniacal chef de partie who would never *gasp* deign to wash the dishes. This is already ugly, but it could get *gulp* ‘socially interactive’ ugly.
A metal mix of utensils smile with what might be last month’s stuck-on gluten-free gravy smugness and throw up a faint raspberry. The frying pan answers like a musical refrain,”Ffthbbt-fftbbbbt!”
I count my breaths as seconds in the momentary pause before a cacophony erupts from casserole dishes to ramekin bowls that hold desserts long forgotten, as a chorus reaches crescendos.
“Oh no you—”
Defiance has taken over even my kitchen sink, mocking me where I lounge, taunting and teasing, emboldened by sheer numbers, volume, and stink. It’s an equal opportunity vermin call, and mind playing tricks or not, I hear a rustle outside the open window.
The dishwashing liquid is already a viscous state of terror, spigot cap with distinctive brand label a cry of desperation, about to lose it if I don’t step in. And the dish towels look no better. They’ve been surreptitiously sliding down the rail to grab some distance but progression was slow going.
The scouring pad is obvious fury. Stray metallic strands picking up electrical charge in the kitchen’s heavy ionized atmosphere and determined to kick dish ass if only I could “Get up off that derrière,” and “Help goddammit!”
Those filthy plastic containers, platters, mugs, trays, saucers, boiler pans froth-eject what used to be food, now slimy bacterium colonies, mold spores, and new strains gelatinous and unidentifiable in “ffthhbbbt-fbbbbtt” spit-spew everywhere. The last thing I remember is the piercing shrill of the dishcloth, agonizing and torturous, threatening to split my eardrums as I jump to my feet on reflex.
The water is steamy hot with a mountain of suds.
Every kitchen cleaning implement I own tells me how “stupid that was” and that “there are better ways to fight.” Sound is muffled. I’ve improvised a hazmat suit out of trash bags, rubber gloves, face mask, and goggles. There’s noise with every movement but when I hear the bedroom door open, I lightning-whack a wet sponge in that direction with the pinpoint accuracy only channeled rage can give, and it closes. Teacups that snicker about it get immediately suffocated with plant-based, biodegradable dish detergent bubbles, their gurgles of protest silenced as I eyeball the drinking glasses next and think maybe, just maybe…sometime next week…I might be finished.
It’s always the dirty ones.
Thank you for reading my story in response to James & Oneg's Summer Writing Challenge Extravaganza prompt!
It stretched me beyond stretchy as I don't do horror, but I do 'Writer Family' who specifically requested it, soooo...laugh at my efforts and write your own. The "Beware the Mundane" prompt requires you to write a horror story about a non-scary mundane task/object. Go ahead! Get your imagination on!
Then check in with me @thedaniwriter
I can wave at your story from the other side of the galaxy under the covers.
About the Creator
My earliest memory is of being in ocean. Born and raised in Bermuda, I lived a childhood made of pastel joys. I've learned to make a delicious vegetarian lasagne, train as a registered nurse, and keep the juiciest of secrets. @thedaniwriter