A Word Of Advice

            “I don’t know why you have to wear pants all the time?” Millie grimaced and raised her coffee cup, only to discover it was empty..  “It makes you look like you want to be a man, but with that behind, no one is ever going to believe it!”  Millie tapped the inch long ash from her Marlboro light into the half full ashtray, and looked around for another target.  Her roving eye soon spotted the philodendron, much the worse for wear, sitting on top of the aged fridge.

            “You might as well toss that dead weed in the garbage if you can’t manage to keep it watered.  And toss everything in this kitchen right along with it so you can see your countertops.”  She stood up slowly and hobbled over to the fridge and pulled out a diet Coke.  ‘My God, there are five different colors of mold growing in there.  It’s lucky you don’t have food poisoning, the way you live. She carefully brushed off the top of the can on her grungy jeans before opening the top. “As soon as I finish my Coke, I’ll sweep up your kitchen floor.  That will be one step toward a clean house.”  She checked the corners of the small kitchen carefully.  “Don’t tell me you don’t have a broom?  How do you expect to clean anything if you don’t have the right tools for the job? How long have you lived here, anyway?”

             Millie looked around the kitchen again, and then opened the door to the hall closet and returned with a dust mop that was covered with long white dog hair and clumps of dust.  She stepped out the back door and shook the mop until she was satisfied that most of the hair and dust had left to settle on the dying grass in the back yard. Then she began to listlessly sweep first one corner and then the next, until she had a pile of dust, and dog hair, bits of crumpled paper, and an occasional beer can heaped together in the center of the floor.  “Now, don’t tell me you don’t even have a dustpan?  How am I supposed to pick up all this junk and put it in the garbage?  What do you mean; sweep it out the back door?  Is that what you have been doing? No wonder the back yard looks like something died there.”  She began to move the pile of trash towards the open back door.

  “Your mama would be turning over in her grave if she could see this dump.  I know she taught you to keep house better than this.  Herbert always used to tease her that you could eat off her floor, it was that clean. And she lived on a farm with all the kids tracking in mud when they forgot to take their shoes off on the back porch.  I always wished my mama had been half as hard working.”  She shook out the dust mop again, and returned it to the hall closet.  The floor was cleaner, but that wasn’t saying much.  There were stains and splotches that needed to be mopped and scrubbed, but that was more than Millie could manage to do.

“Oh my, it’s almost four o’clock.  Herbert will be home soon, and I need to get supper started.  I am going to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes tonight.  He does love my mashed potatoes!  He told me once that was why he married me, just to get a lifetime supply of homemade mashed potatoes.”   Millie looked around the room again, and then sat back down at the table and pulled out another Marlboro light.  “I’ll peel the potatoes, just as soon as I finish this cigarette.”

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3 Responses

  1. Very interesting. The reader’s left wondering whether there’s someone in the room with Millie or not; there’s a hint of a response to something she says, but nothing definitive. Very intriguing piece!

  2. Love the mystery surrounding this flash, was there anyone with her or not…? Always wonderful to leave the reader guessing (not that I have so much experience in it, but I personally love a story more when I have to think about it for a second there 🙂 )
    Great job!

  3. Thanks for the good words. It was my intention to show a woman who has driven everyone away with her constant criticism and is left with no one to criticise but herself. I may have to rework this to achieve what I had intended.

    Barb Relyea

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