WHY LANA DOESN’T GET TO MOP

Lana is sure her son has killed before. Now, as he stands in front of her, she wonders why she hadn’t stopped him in the past. The smooth edge of the cleaver is all she can look at, nothing else is clean enough. There are bodies piled up in the basement, she saw them. Lana’s son had left that door unlocked last week, and she couldn’t help herself. At this moment, she was sorry she had ever sunk into the pit of the house. She was sorry for a lot of things. “I’m sorry,” her son keeps saying. She knows he’s lying.

She tells him that she just wants to clean up the kitchen first. It’s such a mess. Will he allow her to do it? Her son hesitates before telling her that it’s fine. Everything has to look nice before this happens. She can’t stop looking at the edge of the cleaver. She’s cleaned it so many times. Who else in this hallowed house will clean it? Nobody. No, nobody else will clean, Lana has to do it. She finally takes a look around to see where to start. The dishes aren’t all loaded into the dishwasher. They should be in the dishwasher.

The clean cleaver is laid upon a dirty table, and Lana’s son begins to walk out into the entryway. “Where are you going?” She asks. More insincere apologies float out, and her son sits at the dirty table. The cleaver gets picked back up.

“Do you remember,” Lana looks at her son, with what she hopes appears to be empathy, “When you were four, and you used to keep your room so clean? Everything was so tidy, And I was the happiest mother. Then he started drinking again, your father, and you were too scared to do anything. You were so sweet, though. Your blue eyes would look at me every day, telling me that you wanted nothing more than to help. If he caught you lift a finger for me though… You remember. ‘Housework is for women,’ he’d always say. He’s apologized since then, he’s been sober for six years, and I’m so happy for him – for us. Why can’t you be happy? Why won’t those childhood scars heal? You’re going to college, son. You have so much ahead, forgive your father. He hasn’t laid a hand on you since you were eleven. He loves you, can’t you see?’ He’s just as lazy, but he’s a good man. He loves you. Don’t you love him?”

“I–” Her son stammers. His eyes are simply mirrors, maybe from his tears, maybe from closing up the windows they once were, Lana has no idea.

She begins to scream at him. “Why would you not come inside when I first asked you to?! I yelled for minutes, and you just kept staring at me! You hate me now too? You hate ME!” A plate shatters against the edge of the counter. “I have to clean that up now,” Lana explains, with a sudden calmness, “I didn’t want to. I have to. You hate me… You…” She steps on the broken shards as she walks to the broom.

Lana lays the cleaver back down, this time on the counter, amidst all the shards of the plate that she’s not cleaning up. Her son gets up again. She screams at him to sit back down, mutters that she has to finish cleaning, and continues. “I’m not–” her son begins, choking on something invisible.

“I hated him too. Not anymore. I hated you. Not anymore. You can’t hold on to the hate.” She picks the cleaver back up before she finishes cleaning up the broken plate. “I don’t think I’m messy. I don’t think I should be held responsible for all this. You clean it up. You clean!”

Her son gets up, but she doesn’t give him a chance to get to it. He dies in four separate pieces on top of a black stained laminate floor that had been white just a week ago. She throws all four pieces of her son into the pit. She has to clean up, he’ll be there soon.

Lana doesn’t get to the mop before hearing commotion out front. Some more teenagers coming home from school. She washes off the cleaver and runs to the front door to call her lazy son inside.

Flash fiction

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