Nadia was always cleaning up after her son, Ben; picking up shirts, putting shoes away, picking up towels. Once she had refused to do it, and it became almost impossible to move around. Nadia harped about it a little, but not too much.
Not long after he turned nineteen, Ben decided to leave home and make it on his own. Of course he shared an apartment with several others.
Nadia missed the mess. She half wished she had some shirts to pick up after him, because it would mean he was home. But when they have to fly the nest they have to fly the nest, said Nadia. Goodness knows how messy his apartment will be.
Nadia decided to visit, just to make sure “everything was alright and did he need anything?” It was Saturday.
The apartment was spotless; very neat and orderly. Did he want to pop home for lunch, enquired Nadia? He couldn’t afford the time, he said. It was his turn to do the vacuuming and the week’s laundry. And he thought he might clean all the windows as well.
Oh what a splendid apple tree! Joan was so proud of it. Every year it produced hundreds of apples. They were the perfect apple, not too sweet and not too sour. Perfect for cooking and perfect for eating raw.
Every year Joan would preserve apple sauce, and make apple pies, and strudel, and everything that required apples. The cider she made in the shed behind her garage; she didn’t want thieves eager for alcohol loitering at her gate. Joan would share her apple produce with the neighbours. But one neighbour was the problem…
Joan’s apple tree grew on the boundary fence.
“How am I meant to get the clothes dry when your apple tree shades my clothes line from the sun?” asked the neighbour. “Chop that wretched tree down.”
Joan got in an arborist to cut some branches off to allow the sun to shine through, but the neighbour was still not happy. “Chop that wretched tree down or I’ll somehow get rid of it myself.”
Joan refused. And then, ever so slowly, the tree died.
That’s the trouble with Bertrand; he’s so pig-headed. He might be only eight years old, but he’s as stubborn as an ox. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I gave birth to such a creature. Sometimes I suspect he’s a little backward when it comes to the brains department. Here he comes now.
“Did you clean the stain off the laundry floor as I asked?”
“Yes, but it didn’t work very well. I used mainly water, with 5% tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate, 6% disodium oxosilanediolate, and 2% alkyl(C8-10) polyethoxypolypropoxybenzene ether. I thought that would work.”
“You naughty, naughty boy. I told you to use 5% boric acid, 5.3% nonylphenol polyethylene glycol ether, 14% dipropylene glycol monomethyl ether, and 1.6% tetrasodium ethylenediamine tetraacetate. No wonder the stain is still there. Go back and try again.”
See what I mean? Stubborn as an ox. He certainly doesn’t take after me, that’s for sure.
I’m having a terrible time trying to get the washing dry. I hung it out this morning – just my husband’s shirt and trousers and things – but it’s been raining all day.
The neighbour stuck her head out her window and asked why I was hanging the washing on the line when it was raining? What does your husband think of you standing in the rain hanging out the laundry? Nosey Parker.
So, the clothes won’t dry, but that’s alright. I was thinking I’d take my husband’s things and put them in the Salvation Army’s used clothing bin. I’ll do that once they’re dry.
I suppose the bullet hole in the back of the shirt won’t matter. As long as it’s clean.