by P. S. Gifford
|Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Edna Willington stood there quietly admiring her just completed hard-work with a satisfied look upon her tired face. She was dressed in a purple polyester floral dress and a pink apron neatly and perfectly tied about her waist. Her grey shoulder length hair was tied back with a yellow scarf. On her hands were bright yellow rubber gloves which went all the way up to her elbows. Directly by her side sat a large bucket of warm sudsy water, a scrubbing brush and a sponge. There was a strong, but comforting, scent of disinfectant permeating throughout the generously proportioned five bedroom Georgian house, a house that was perfectly perched in the most fashionable part of the Oxford countryside on a three acre lot. Edna continued to sit there examining the hallway, contemplating her life. The mock marble tiles shone, the baseboard sparkled and the recently painted beige walls were completely spotless. After twelve days of scrubbing, cleaning, polishing and buffing the whole house was now finished…and she could finally relax. Edna, always one to maintain a spotless home took particular satisfaction to do, as is traditional traditionally, clean.
At sixty-four years old, she had never had a career of her own. She had raised two children which they had had early on in there marriage. Children who had seemed to Edna to have grown up all too quickly and were now married leading successful and independent loves…Whilst the children were at home she had a sense of defining purpose, there was validation for her existence, but they had left fifteen years since. Over those years maintaining an immaculately clean home had been the only satisfaction she had derived… This all was working rather well up until two months prior…She will not soon forget that particular Friday, as that was the day that the unthinkable happened. Yes as that was the fateful, life altering day her husband of the last forty-nine years, Alfred Willington, retired from his position of senior managing director with a building society. Edna, please appreciate, had found it an acceptable dilemma taking care of him for breakfast and in the evenings. Breakfast was a structured routine, she simply presented him with toast, marmalade, fresh orange juice, a pot of tea and his morning paper. He would occasionally grunt, quickly consume, and then be gone. The evenings he would arrive home and the customary large gin martini will be chilled and awaiting him. Then she would run his bath, and as he soaked, and enjoyed a second martini, Edna would make the evening meal. Even the weekends were more-or-less bearable, they always did precisely the same things as she always fully understood that Monday was just around the corner, and that Alfred would be going off to work in his classic Mach 2 Jaguar by precisely 8:20, with his financial times under his arm and a briefcase which carried barely more than his cheese and tomato sandwiches and a flask of tea that she prepared for him, and that her organized cleaning routine would soon be running along smoothly.
What compounded matters further was the new hobby that Alfred had had seen fit to adopt to fill in his new found spare time was-gardening .For what ever reason Alfred had seen fit to let the gardener go and take up the task of marinating their substantial gardens himself…And what is more he expected a continuous supply of pots of tea…This also meant that Alfred was continually in and out the house (His bladder not being quite what it once was)
As Edna stood there her contented look was to be short lived. As All at once the front door swung open to reveal Alfred standing there. He was dressed in a dress shirt-a shirt that the night before had been painstakingly hand washed, starched and pressed perfectly. He was also wearing a pair of light brown corduroys which were covered in stains of varying hues and intensity…Some were green, others were brown and others still she couldn’t even bring herself to imagine what might have made them. On his size eleven sized feet were his favorite pair of Wellington boots which were as usual these days caked in mud.
“Put the kettle on please dear.” He said confidently “as he marched in the door and plodded along the hallway. “I am parched, and could murder a decent cuppa.”
Edna watched on in complete horror as he tore of his Wellington boots…at the foot of the stairs, and leaving them in a pile continued to march up them.
She studied the mud trails on the mock marble tile. She studied the mess he was leaving as he walked up the stairs. She studied her heavy duty scrubbing brush. Suddenly an overpowering urge transformed her and, without thinking, abruptly grabbed the brush and chased after him. He was half way up the stairs and on the landing when she smashed him over the back of the head. He was understandably startled and turned around to confront her, he opened his mouth to speak, and the perfectly manicured moustache trembled over his pudgy lips but before he could say anything she hit him again. The brush landed directly onto his temple with considerably more force than the previous blow. There was an agonizing moment of silence as Alfred’s expression transformed from confusion, to anger, and then finally an empty stare The silence was broken by a series of thumps as Alfred fell downwards. Edna looked at the bottom of the stairs. Alfred lay there silent. His arms and legs unnaturally contorted. It was only then that the complete horror of what she had just done penetrated her confused mind. She looked at the blood gently easing out from his balding head and she headed back to her bucket of sudsy water.
“Another mess to clean up,” she said out loud in a methodical matter of fact tone.
Then she began to whistle cheerfully…