The prompt: Write about a person doing a household chore
Prunes! My hands had turned to prunes! Between doing the dishes and scrubbing the floor, I had ruined my hands. It would take hours for the skin to shrink back from ninety-nine year-old to fifty-seven. I’d never play the violin again!
It didn’t help that I didn’t play the violin before soaking my hands in hot water. I was just pissed that the possibility of a career as a concert violinist was now closed to me. I’d have to dream about something else.
I had all the time in the world. I had just moved in yesterday, and found that the kitchen had beautiful, almost new, linoleum tiles, just like when I was ten. The image of my mother on her knees with a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush came to mind immediately. Images like this always come fully formed. The sight of the floor triggered a single picture, and the past cascaded back into my memory. The wet floor, the smell of ammonia, the cry of “Don’t walk in the kitchen! I just washed the floor!”
No Shinyl Vinyl here. A 1960’s-era floor was worth the work. The shine would last all of two weeks if I was lucky. I got busy. Hot water. Spic and Span. How long had it taken to find THAT? A cup of ammonia. Eyes tearing, and nose hairs standing on end. Had my mother put up with this every two weeks? Yikes! But then again, with the hordes of kids in our house, Cub Scouts, Brownies, she probably did this once a week or more. What a trooper she was. No wonder she welcomed the era of Shinyl Vinyl.
I scrubbed. I soaked. I sweated. The years of accumulated grime and wax slowly liquefied. I got out the scraper and stripped the wax. Yuck! How did she do it? But then again, if she could deal with five kids in seven years, Mom could deal with a bit of wax scum.
After an hour it was dry. I ended up with a clean, dull, speckled floor. Now for the magic. I popped the top on the can of liquid floor wax. Poured it out in a far corner. Grabbed the lambs wool applicator and began the artistry. I swept back and forth, careful not to leave overlapping ridges, but also not scrubbing back and forth over and over. It was like shellacking over the Mona Lisa. Just a thin layer would bring out the beauty and protect it from the ages. I was the Leonardo, the Michelangelo, the Rembrandt of the kitchen floor.
The question came from out of the past, in the voice of a ten year old boy. “When will it be done?”
“When it’s finished.” said my mother.