Snakes and Pills

094 - mess

Ross tried to drop the bucket onto the floor carefully, but even as he did so, a few drops of water managed to splash out. As they inevitably always did. He dropped down to his knees, and felt the cold embrace of the linoleum on his weary joints. Long ago, he had learned to roll up the legs of his pants before he got down onto the floor. His skin, he could clean in solitude every night. His clothes, she would see. She would criticize. He couldn't have that.

He put his hand into the bucket, grabbing for the cold, clammy sponge. The water was murky already, so it took a moment for him to locate the sponge, but eventually he did. Ross knew that he should probably clean the water more often, he knew in the back of his mind that he was actually just moving the dirt around the room rather than removing it. But he didn't have the energy to be constantly changing the dirty water, and she never required it of him. He rarely would do the things which she didn't require.

The sponge rose above the surface of the water, dripping all the while. He wrung it out, which created even more noise. He took pleasure in the slight cacophony all the water dripping back into the bucket created, but like most of the pleasure in his life, it was over as soon as it began.

Ross began to move the damp sponge across the off-white color of the floor. All told, the floor itself wasn't actually that dirty. Even if he weren't getting down on his hands and knees twice a week with the bucket and the sponge, it would take a good amount of time before anyone in their right mind would consider the floor dirty. Of course, he often reminded himself, she was anything but in her right mind. So, twice a week, he found himself here.

The kitchen floor wasn't too bad, though. The square pattern easily allowed him to keep track of what he had cleaned and what still remained. It wasn't too big, either, so he had an easy route he could follow and make sure he got it all. Sometimes, she would ask him, "Ross, are you absolutely certain you cleaned everything in here?" Usually, she would ask this as she stood over some spot that she suspected was still dirty.

Ross never lied to her. Sometimes, if she asked the dreaded question in the living room or the dining room, he couldn't honestly answer yes. It was possible. However unlikely given his meticulous care, it was possible that he had missed a spot. He would be forced to clean again, until the area was to her liking.

But in the kitchen, with his system, he had confidence that he cleaned everything, especially since he would purposely clean the same spot twice. When he left this room, he could be sure he would not need to return later in the day to clean it again. That was a certain kind of relief in his life, and thus he liked the kitchen best of all among the rooms in the house.

As he moved the sponge across the floor, it didn't get any whiter. It had tanned and darkened with age, and its current color was as bright as it could ever hope to be. Yet he still moved the sponge along the floor, stopping as soon as he determined necessary, to rinse the sponge out back in the bucket. It would be lunch in a few hours, so he needed to get his work here done soon.


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