At Last, The Washing Up
I’ve decided that I’m going to do the washing up properly today. I’m sick of the clammy water that resists soap, sick of scraping off that same, easy to scrape plate instead of eating off the good china that just won’t clean. I’m sick of going outside and down to the river to get the water.
I’m finally sick of everything.
The generator coughs and howls as I manually turn it over to start, before settling into a contented purr. The sound almost makes my cry, as the memories come pouring back, the distant, lost roar of engines, the hum and bustle of the city, and you, always you sat there next to me, laughing as I take the wrong turn. The smell of gasoline is sweeter than any perfume I can remember, and I just stand there, soaking it in, until the lights come on and break me out of it.
The house looks awful, I’m so sorry. Thats candle-light for you, I guess, it just hides all the cobwebs and dirt. But light means power, and power means the boiler runs, and the hoover runs, and the washing machine runs, and the music dock runs. I throw open the windows and turn up the music, blow the dust off every surface I can, and finally get back to the kitchen and the dreaded washing up.
I remember we used to fight about this all the time – you overfilling the bowl when the water in it was turning near-stagnant, me pulling out just that one knife I needed rather than bothering to do everything. The seemingly endless debates on whether we should find the money for a dishwasher. I remember it being the dark hole in the middle of our cleaning routines, that one job we always left until last in the hope the other would do it if they finished first.
I guess you won, because here I am, doing the washing up.
I survey house and it looks perfect. Well, probably not perfect, as neither of us were too good at that sort of thing, but good enough, the sort of job we would slump down on the sofa after finishing and declare “done”. Even when it wasn’t done. Especially, when it wasn’t done but when there was just something more fun to do. Today I have something more fun to do, and so I declare it done, and head out to the patio as the sun sets.
Behind me, in the garage, I hear the generator start to choke out the last of its fuel, and the lights go out. The music becomes tinny, as the dock speakers give out but my phone soldiers on, blaring out its battery life into the dusk. I’ve dug out a couple of the old oil lamps we bought in that car boot sale – remember that? – and that and the setting sun it just enough light to gaze out across the darkened city.
I can only hope someone out there saw this mayfly defiance of the end.
And the sun sets as the pills start to kick in. I have a fleeting fear that I’ve left the windows open, and the door unlocked, and anyone could get in and you’d blame me, and we’d fight and then I remember that there isn’t anyone. And there is no you. And that I’ve waited too long, holding onto this place because I can’t let you go, and that you’ve got with everyone else, ahead of me.
The horizon darkens, the clouds gold and red and the trees silhouetted against them, and all I can think is that the world looks beautiful as I leave it.