Posted on August 10, 2015August 7, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.10.2015 Journal Prompt August 10, 2015: They were always together. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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They came twice a month and no warning to them coming. They came to clean the windows of some of the other apartments and my apartment, too. One of them stood on the roof watching the rope and keeping everything safe; the other dangled like a spider on a thread and he did the work of cleaning. He had a bucket of water by his side and his feet pressed against the stone and the brick like an abseiling climber, and his arms swiped in perfect arcs across the glass.
And after, the world looked a little brighter and clearer and cleaner – and that’s how I knew they had been. They usually came when I was out and I was glad of that, because coming without any warning, the apartment was always in a bit of a state. Books I was reading left open at the page, and newspapers the same, some with articles torn out and stuck to the door of the fridge, and letters that wanted for an answer – from mom and from Ted and from Sissy, and clothes that had just fallen to the floor, and empty cups and dirty plates and bottles all drunk and toppled.
Then one day there was a small package left at my door. A small shoebox tied shut with string and a luggage label attached that said, ‘For the girl who is too busy to write letters to her mom.’ Inside were some small cards showing bright flowers, and envelopes, and stamps in a small book, and a pen.
The windows were clean that day and so I thought the box must have been from them, or at least from the spider-man on his thread. I was a little cross at first, at the intrusion – that he had maybe read my mom’s letter lying open on the windowsill through the glass. And then I looked around and was embarrassed at the mess of the place. I sent my mom one of the cards.
I tidied up for the window cleaner the next time – not knowing exactly when that would be, I kept it all neat and everything tucked away for seven days in a row. But it was a Saturday when they next came, and I was sleeping late and I hadn’t shut the curtains. I woke and saw him peering in.
He was older than I imagined and he grinned and waved, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Then he set about wiping the glass clean, soapy water first and then the swipe of his squeegee. Then when he was done and pleased with himself, he asked me if I had written to my mom yet. I could hear his words coming small through the glass and he made some gesture of writing with his hands.
I was naked under the covers and I just nodded and smiled and made the shape of thank you with my mouth, just the shape and no sound. He nodded and said that was good and he put one thumb up – which might have been to me or to his partner for then he was hoisted to the windows upstairs.
On my doorstep, when I ventured out later that morning, another small box. A white cake box, tied shut with string and another brown luggage label attached, and inside a vanilla slice in a corrugated paper cup. On the label it said, ‘To the girl who wrote to her mom – a small reward.’
I don’t know how he knew that vanilla slices were my favourite.
So, like I read somewhere that free range chickens can actually have a worse life than caged chickens. No shit. If you got a thousand chickens running free round a yard or a barn, well, there’s a pecking order for starters and them as is at the bottom, fuck don’t they get pecked a whole lot? And what do chickens actually want – the egg-laying chickens that is? They want a quite place to theirselves where they can lay their eggs and their aint no threat of fox to come along. Yes, so a box-cage where they have a feeling of being safe and hidden, and something soft to lay their eggs on, and then the chicken is about as happy as a chicken gets.
I reckon as I am maybe part chicken. Not with any of the egg-laying shit, but not having been out of the apartment for almost a year and not upset by that neither. And my best friend says I oughta and she says it aint right and she thinks maybe I’m sick and I should see someone. She tempts me with all kinds of stuff. Like tickets to the theatre, or stories about what’s going on in the park or changes they made to the street, or restaurant reviews which she cuts out of the newspaper especially.
I got everything I need right here, I tell her. I get my groceries delivered twice a week and the boy that brings ‘em is real nice and he sets everything down careful on the table in my kitchen. And sometimes he stops to drink a glass of lemonade with me and we say a few words, and after, when he’s leaving, he says to me to have a nice day. And the window cleaner looks in on me once a fortnight and he waves and he tells me I’m looking good and better than good, and he licks his fingers by which he means finger-licking good. I make him a cup of tea and he drinks it hanging by a rope outside my window.
And my mom phones most every day and she tells me what’s what.
And Cootie comes round when he’s a mind to. And he kisses me lots and we dance to a new song he’s heard and he wants me to hear, too. And we make out sometimes and sometimes we don’t. And he lets me read to him, stuff I’ve written, and he really listens and I can see he’s affected by what I write. And after he’s gone, I carry on dancing, to no music and just filled up happy.
My best friend looks at me sharp as pins or pinches, and she’s looking for the cracks in what I tell her and she says she’s not buying it, any of it. And so I tell her about chickens and the argument ‘gainst free range. She’s a little surprised by what I say, and she says from now on she aint buying no eggs at all. I say if we all did that then there wouldn’t be no fucking egg-laying chickens, not no place.
Is that what this is, she says. Is you just too chicken to go out? Cos if that’s it, then ok. I can work on that. Like there’s this guy and he’s scared crossing the road and he checks both ways maybe a hundred times and I have to take his arm and make a big thing of him crossing so all the drivers can see. But at least he crosses the road.
I tell my best friend that she don’t get it. And that yes, I am maybe too chicken, but not like she thinks.