Everything is black and white
The world has lost it’s color
No one’s going to stand and fight
Now everyone ducks for cover
Five minutes after hearing Dad drive off, I pulled myself out of the bed, swaddled in Kayden’s scent. Despite using the same soap I did, just a few hours of him sleeping under the blankets had them smelling like oranges, coffee and something I can’t place.
I thought it was a nice change to the alcohol-doused atmosphere of my room but I knew Mother wouldn’t. She hated the scent of other people being on her personal items and if she ever changed her mind and entered my room she would know straight away that someone else had been here.
So, I had to clean, not just because Kayden had been here but because Trevor had touched a lot of things. If when Mother came back she wasn’t still in love with the man, she would be angry to meet his scent all over her living space. I had to wipe down the furniture with 70% alcohol and clean whatever remained with bleach. The wine bottles in the bar and all the glass articles in the apartment needed to be inspected for smudges then shined.
Mother hated surprise fingerprints more than unwanted scents and I enjoyed the paces such thorough cleaning out me through.
Sanitary, that was the scent of the place I called home.
With a sweep of my arms, I gathered the pink duvet and bedsheets and held them close to my chest, relishing the opportunity to do so. I made quick work of stuffing them into a cloth bag and tucking them into the safety of my cupboard then dressing the bed with fresh ones. The color of the new sheets and blanket leaned more towards peach than hot pink and that made me satisfied. If Kayden came over again everything wouldn’t be so vomit-inducing.
Maybe. . .
I dug through the bag and pulled out the pillowcase, making short work of replacing the peach one with it. It might have been selfish of me but I wanted some of that scent on me when I was alone, sleeping on the floor. I could pretend that someone else was with me. Wouldn’t that be nice?
I spent the next few minutes tidying up my bedroom and clearing the mess I had made in the bathroom. When I was done, I just stood in the center of it all, appreciating the job well done.
It wasn’t often that I got to clean my room—it was neat enough most of the time to pass a cursory inspection—but when I did, it made me unbelievably happy.
Cleaning, in general, brought me peace. My favorite part of the day was when Mother left and I was alone for hours with no worries to tie me down. I could do whatever I wanted without feeling like I was doing it wrong.
I could practice my cooking and make a meal, or sing along to music on the radio.
We didn’t have a TV. Mother said that the programs being aired only got worse as years went by and by the time she had me none were any good anymore.
I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. I only needed music to clean to my heart’s content.
Years of the same routine had me out of my room by 8pm every Saturday to clean. On Saturday I wasn’t afraid of Mother walking in on my unexpectedly. She usually spent the entire weekend out, leaving me to fend for myself until she staggered through the door, wasted.
The longest she ever stayed out was a week. She would leave the night of Christmas Eve and return in the early mornings of the new year.
It had become a sort of ritual and those few days, for me, were like a holiday. I messed up the house, rearranged it then repeated the process. Till now I still can’t decide whether magazines looked better when arranged in order of publication date or color. Mother’s wardrobe arranged by preference looked just as inviting when the cloths and footwear were color coded. The bookshelves looked amazing in alphabetical order but were more appealing when all the reds and the blues and the multicolored spines were stacked next to each other.
I didn’t have to do things that way though. I couldn’t have put the magazines in a messy pile on the table or hung the kitchen napkins on their hooks instead of folding them into little triangles and stacking one atop the other until I formed a vertical rainbow. But I didn’t.
When I put things in order, I am in order; I am in control. Things don’t need to be clean but they have to because I want them to. And when Mother comes back to the couches repositioned and her room rearranged, she smiles at me.
She never scatters what I clean unless she is drunk. She respects my choices and appreciates the effort I put in, how hard I’ve worked. After I clean is the only moment my mother is proud of me.