Trapped

25 03 2007

This is an exercise where we were told to write about a trapped character but to show this through the setting rather than to name the feeling.

She’ll be home from work soon. I look around at the house and try my best to assess the damage. In the far corner of the sitting room the brand new TV lies on it’s side but it hasn’t even been dented. The plant pot’s contents are poured across the beige carpet and the Aspidistra is lying down in the tipped soil as though the wind has been knocked out of it. There are shards of glass on the other side of the room. The angry remains of the mirror that scolded me for questioning the face looking back at me.

I don’t know what came over me. She’ll be home soon, looking for an explanation. I could tell her we’ve been burgled. I’ve lied so much already. What harm will one more do? Or I could try my best to tidy up. But it won’t be enough. She’ll notice the stain. She’ll know that something is out of place. She always does. The books will be in the wrong order or the plant won’t be sitting the right way round.

I know she can’t help it. Mike says I would be better of out of it but how could I leave? Everything looks so bloody perfect. The outside world see us, see our home. The pristine white of the net curtains. The kitchen with it’s sparkling sink. She’ll come home from work. Her hair and make-up will still be perfect; she’ll carefully cook a nutritionally sound meal. Her mouth will make the shape of a smile and we’ll pretend to make polite conversation and then, long after I go to bed, the cleaning and the scrubbing will start. Only her hands give her away. Her nails are brittle and her fingertips worn out from three years of bleach and chemicals. The angry red mark around her wedding ring.

I want her to come home and find the mess. Maybe that’s what she needs. To see the way normal people live. Mike’s house is so comfortable. The cushions are never straight. The kitchen sink is often full of dirty cups. The sheets are only changed once a week. He doesn’t have to worry if he leaves his dirty socks by the bed or forgets to rinse out the basin after brushing his teeth.

I step over the debris through to the kitchen to get the dust pan and brush from under the sink. The cupboard is stacked full of cleaning products, neatly arranged with clinical precision. I need to remember to wipe it down after I tidy up the plant and I focus on exactly where everything is sitting so I return it all just so. She’ll be home soon.

I remember we used to have fun. The house was warm and the tidiness a comfort. But then she never stayed up cleaning all night. That only came after the accident. If Dad hadn’t died I’m sure things would be so different.
(490)

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