It's fitting, really, that the last few minutes you'll spend with Clarissa will involve cleaning, and mopping, and sweeping.
After all, haven't you been busily mopping up her trail of devastation for the last six months? Clarissa oozes it behind her like a snail's slime, and you were the only one willing to give the ground she walked on a good scouring.
Now, the only thing of hers you'll scour will be the surfaces she touched in your house. You just have to get done with this first.
Yank down the streamers, scrub the tables, sweep the pavement, scrape the confetti off of the garden gnomes, and you'll breeze out that door with her weight off of your shoulders.
Though, typically, Clarissa's lounging, and directing, and whining, and generally making your last moments with her as emotionally-draining as can be. It's the way she works.
You missed a spot, she says snarkily, jabbing a finger at a greasy patch on the blue-striped tablecloth.
Silently, you scrub at the stain.
And there, too. Oh- right there, as well.
Be the bigger person. Don't let that little mosquito-voiced brat get to you. Give her a reaction, and it's like handing her your soul. Just scrub. Just SCRUB.
Oh- and while you're at it, Yello-Jello is great for getting lipstick stains off collars. You should come over and do my laundry sometime- when we're not stuck cleaning up after this little demon-spawn, of course.
Clarissa'd know all about demon-spawn, of course, but even your mental insults can't take the sting off of her entitlement. Vigorously, you rub the tablecloth raw. Slamming passive-aggressively through that screen door seems eons away.
A thud- her hand on the armrest of the lawn-chair she's sitting on. Hello? Earth to Chee-Chee? Are you in there?
The casual use of the nickname makes you want to flay her alive, but you bite your tongue- literally. It's dramatic, but it helps.
Ugh. We're being annoying, now, aren't we? Come ON, Chee-Chee. We both know you'll turn up at my door tomorrow. Let's just skip all of the fanfare and jump in my van now.
Your grip is white-knuckled on the ragged cloth as you scrub down the Dollar-Tree tables. The tablecloths are neatly stacked beside you. Mrs. Morrison can take them inside once you've left Clarissa in the dust.
Chee-Chee! I'm not kidding. Quit it with the act!
Oh, she'd KNOW about acting. That entitled, bossy, low-down, daughter OF A-
Of nothing. Of nothing, of nothing, of nobody. You're going to be leaving here without her poison in your veins. You won't think about her at all, ever again- and if you do, you'll think about her with amusement. She isn't worth your headspace. She isn't worth your rage, or your irritation, or your insults.
She's worth nothing. You cling to that knowledge.
Chee-CHEE, she whines. There's a scraping of fabric against brick as she hops off of the wall and wanders over to you. Your shoulders tense up- if she touches you, you'll kill her. You'll kill her. You won't be able to control it.
Chee-Chee... ugh, puh-LEASE. C'mon! This isn't funny anymore. Just drop the rag- her fingers lightly graze your knuckles, and a scream fights to tear its way out of your throat- and let's get out of here. That kid's a brat, anyway. Somebody should tell him to clean up after his own party.
She thinks it's a joke.
She thinks you're still with her.
Her fingertips on your knuckles burn like acid.
You want to kill her. You really, really do.
Chee-Chee! I- UGH. Fine. Fine! I'm sorry for- I don't know- making you whimper? Cry? Get over yourself, would you? At some point, this is just stupid, Chee-Chee. Pretending to break up with me so that you can feel good, or- or something. It's not right.
Oh, SHE'S ONE TO TALK ABOUT NOT BEING-
One. More. Word.
One more word, and you swear you'll snap.
With trembling fingers, you fold up the rag and align it with the tablecloths. Stiffly, you cross over to the garage door and pick up the neon-yellow broom.
Chee-Chee! God, at this point you're lucky I'm even around.
Lucky. Very lucky. Ever so MAGNIFICENTLY lucky. Viciously, you rake the broom across the confetti-covered paving stones.
And then, mid-sweep, mid-complaint, Clarissa does something. And your heart stutters to a standstill.
She grabs your shoulder, spins you around, and slaps you.
The broom clatters to the ground. Clarissa's whining something, but there's a roar in your ears, and any hope left of being the bigger person is decimated.
The slap was weak- the sting's already fading- but it gives you an excuse to slap her back.
So you do. Your hand arcs up, and it connects with her freckle-coated cheeks. She staggers.
And what do you do, staring into the encapsulating blue of her tear-filled eyes?
You bend down, pick up the broom, and continue sweeping.
Classy of you, really. Heartless, sure- ignoring those hamster-esque squeals of disbelief would give anybody a twinge- but classy all the same. Better than burying her.
And what does she do, once she's stopped squeaking like a leaking balloon?
She launches herself at you. Those pale fists beat against your chest and arms and that mosquito-pitched voice shrieks threats and curses and insults.
Being the bigger person, once more, occurs to you. So you peel her off of you, hold her at arms' length, and laugh- a short, barking laugh- in her face.
She freezes, and those eyes well up again. She realizes it- you won't be getting into her van today, or ever again, and no amount of whining will get you back.
You're done with her messes. You're done with her vengeful exes. You're done with coming home, finding her with another girl, and bawling your eyes out while she's out at some club.
You're done, and she finally realizes it.
You open your mouth, and she flinches.
Will you insult her?
Will you put your feelings into words?
Will you bite that pug-nose of hers off?
No. You do none of those options, though number three has a nice ring to it.
Pick the confetti off the gnomes, you say flatly, and you push your broom into her arms and leave.
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i was planning to leave a comment on the story when i could, and this is that comment. :) i love a story like this; filled with angst, shaped flawlessly. i can picture every second of it and i can just feel the adrenaline. i have no words but how this story is to die for; this was such a creative take on this prompt! keep up the great storytelling.
aw, thanks, dorsa. means the world to me.
the emotional rollercoaster of submitting on the first day- 1. wow! so productive!! 2. wait, i put no effort into this... 3. won't it be just terrible and poorly edited? 4. what will i do for the rest of the week?