A knock at the door.
It’s that damn neighbor of mine; I hate it when she comes over. Since the day I moved in she’s been dying to see what I’ve done with the place. Could she possibly expect something lavish? Doubtful. She knows. She must know.
I answered by opening the door a crack and speaking through the screen. She wanted to borrow a cup of sugar, now we all know she didn’t need sugar but I complied like the wonderful person I am. Of course I shut the door (and locked it) while I escaped to the kitchen and returned with a plastic cup full of sugar.
My days are becoming significantly lonelier by the minute. Not lonely enough to talk to the neighbor witch, but lonely enough. Sometimes I can hardly bare it. I had a cat once but she ran away. Not even an animal can bare the thought of me. I have family but they have their own lives, respectively so. I see them, sometimes, for holidays; mainly depending on when I’m invited. They love me though, mostly because they don’t know me.
I run an eBay store from my home. I venture out at times, visiting second hand stores and Salvation Army’s for trunks and trinkets to sell. As long as I know I can double my money I’ll buy it. Sometimes I’ll buy it simply because it will bring more joy staring at me day in and day out.
I’ve made quite the living thus far with my virtual store. My feedback scores are astronomical; I love the kind things sellers say about me. Sometimes I’ll even check in to see how they are enjoying their new treasure, or perhaps hear about the excitement on a loved one’s face when they passed it off as a present. I print each one out and scotch tape them on my wall in front of my computer, to remind me of how happy I make others.
The next morning I was woken up by the telephone ring, a rare sound. It was my niece, Jane and she was in town meeting a client about five minutes from where I live and wanted to grab some lunch.
“Wonderful!” I exclaimed.
“I’ll meet you at the café at 1! See you soon, love you!” I signed off.
I rushed to my room singingly and picked out an outfit to press. Soon thereafter I showered and dolled myself up, this was to be a glorious day!
There she was at the café just in the knick of time.
“Aunt Carol! It’s been too long, wonderful to see you!”
We chit chatted and she filled me in on the family gossip and what extracurricular activities the kids were involved with these days. The sour subject of the holiday season arose and she was mentioning that they were going to her husband’s side, she asked if I had plans and hesitantly I shook my head. Of course being the kind soul that she is she invited me, with pity to tag along. I politely declined I would never impose like that.
We finished our delicious lunch and she kindly picked up the check and explained that she still had about three hours to kill.
“You know, Aunt Carol, I’ve never seen your home! Why don’t we go there for a cup of tea?”
“Oh, uh, no sweetie I haven’t cleaned yet this week”
“Don’t be silly! We’re family, I don’t care about that”
“No, no let’s just get some tea here then”
“Well, I suppose, I really do not mind a mess though I have kids”
“I said no”
I lost my temper a bit; my quick response took her off guard. I’m terrible; she couldn’t stomach to see where I live. How I live. It’s my private sanctuary, for my eyes only. I hope I didn’t spike her curiosity, I hope.
The rest of the afternoon was quit enjoyable and we parted ways, promising to do this again soon.
Arriving home I immediately got into my robe and slippers and hoped on the computer to check how this weeks eBay items were doing while turning on the evening news. My television was from a garage sale but its only defect was the volume was broken, so it was deafening. I’m hard of hearing anyway so it wasn’t the worst that could happen.
I stepped into the kitchen for a moment and upon my return someone was standing in the doorway, I screamed.
“What are you doing here!? Get out, get out!”
“Aunt Carole, I, I, I’m sorry I knocked...”
“NOW PLEASE LEAVE NOW” My panic was unreal. I couldn’t believe what I had let happen, I always lock the door, shut the shades. I was pushing her out, pushing her, pushing her.
“You forgot your scarf Aunt Carol, I was trying to be nice”
“Nice wouldn’t be barging into my home!”
Her face read utter shell shock.
I dropped to my knees, the jig is up, I’m so ashamed, so very ashamed. I was having a panic attack, a non-rarity, and begged Jane to grab my medicine out of the bathroom; I may as well let it all hang out at this point. It took her some time to return.
“Sorry, I, I couldn’t find it. Here let me get you a glass of water.”
“No, no, no”
I took the pill and chewed it, to ensure I would feel its effects immediately.
I soon calmed down, moved some clutter off the couch and had a seat with Jane.
She put her hand on my knee.
“It’s going to be ok you know? I’ll help you. It’ll be fine. I’ll hire someone to come in and help you clean up”
“No, please no, everything is in place for my store”
“I know but you can’t live like this, you’re going to have infestations if you don’t already”
“I don’t know, I don’t know, I try not to pay attention”
“The stench is overwhelming, you don’t want to get in trouble do you? They cease houses for habits like these”
“Don’t you think I know that?! I usually lock the door so I can live in peace!”
I startled her again.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to snap, I didn’t want you to have to see me like this.”
“I understand. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll check you into a hotel, this way I can have someone come in and do an estimation tomorrow.”
“This is my home, don’t you see? I mustn’t abandon it.”
“You’ll be back this is only temporary Aunt Carol, then you can’t live luxuriously!”
“I appreciate your confidence butt I am not going anywhere”
“Suit yourself but I’m not letting this be. I’ll be by in the morning and we’ll start organizing things, hopefully I can hire a cleaning crew.”
I said nothing. Mostly because she can say whatever she pleases, I knew no one would touch my things.
Jane left and I immediately began peeling the piles of old rubbish to pack up my most delicate and sentimental of treasures, those thieves wouldn’t touch a thing! I began labeling each box with words only I could understand. As I reached a point where I could see the carpet in my living room I moved to the kitchen.
I sorted through the piles upon piles of papers stacked throughout and tucked away the pictures, tax forms, copies of my will, etc. Under the piles I found an old box of my favorite cereal, I would save that for the morning.
I worked and worked and worked, when done piling up the boxes in my hallway, I loved having this barricade of my things protecting me, I felt safe. Very safe. My Grandma’s jewels were in a shoebox I found under my bed, glorious!
It took me all night to gather my most wanted list. I had a total of 143 boxes; thankfully I had piles of them in the basement for such situations. One by one I moved the boxes into the shed in my backyard.
It was now 9AM Jane would be here any minute. I securely locked the shed, changed my clothes to make it appear I hadn’t been doing hard labor all night and put on a pot of coffee for the cleaners.
She arrived as expected with a van and the look on her face was priceless as she entered. I heard one cleaner whisper to another, “We’ve seen worse”. I bet they did; now little Jane looks like a liar.
“Why Aunt Carol where is everything”
“Oh sweetie I was so upset last night that I got rid of everything myself. My neighbor helped me and her husband took it all down to the dumpster with his pick up early this morning”
“I’m so proud, just wonderful!”
She hugged me, and I felt satisfied and alive.
I allowed the cleaning crew to go about their tasks, who wouldn’t like a good sprucing up, and Jane and I went to the same café for some brunch. Post brunch Jane took me shopping for new things since she was so proud of me for parting with the old.
Hours later we returned and everything was spick and span! Carpets were cleaned, walls were washed, bathroom bleached. I was pleased and proud to call this place my home.
I thanked Jane a million times over and agreed to go with her to her husband’s family for the holidays. Why not, right?
She pulled out and I waved from my screen door until she was out of sight.
Adrenaline poured through me, unaware that I hadn’t slept in two days, and I raced to shed. I merely broke the lock trying to open it and smelled the air of my neatly packaged treasures. I raced the boxes one by one into the house, unaware at first that my nosey neighbor was eyeballing me from her porch, quite curiously.
With each box reentering it’s home I dumped them upside down in to piles in their respective rooms. It was night again and a day later my home was joyous again! But this time clean.
I poured myself a cold glass of lemonade and had a seat on my fresh scented barcalounger, smiling satisfied, admiring my friends, my accomplishments and fortune.