- Eileen Schuh
Chorie slipped on her rubber gloves, grabbed the toilet brush, and sighed. She’d read somewhere that despite today’s
technology, she did more chores than the privileged of the middle ages. In other words...
She opened the toilet seat, held her breath, and squirted the blue cleaner around the rim...queens and princesses in the ancient
world didn’t scrub their own chamber pots...or their own floors. Hell, they didn’t even suckle their own babies; wet nurses
She turned her head and inhaled deeply before leaning over the bowl to scrub. She thought of cold, dark, stone castles lit only
by candles, smelling of rancid smoke…and mould in damp corners…and un-bathed bodies. She thought of beheadings and
public hangings. Of witches and knights and dragons…of untreated infections…of mothers dying during childbirth….
Of children dying….
She flushed the toilet and watched the water swirl down the drain. There would still be a brown stain at the bottom once the
blue left. Probably some streaks on the side. There always were. A taunt. Because in some lab somewhere, a man who’d
never cleaned a toilet in his life, decided the cleaner should be a thick blue. So thick and blue those who did clean toilets,
couldn’t see where they needed to scrub. She caught the sound of a moan over the whir of the water and stepped to the
open door to listen.
Another listless whimper wafted over the back of the sofa, a soft cry of pain rising from behind a veil of sleep.
She flipped the lid closed without checking for spots and ripped off her gloves. She hadn’t planned for her life to turn out
this way. She hadn’t wanted children, but Gus had. So, she’d conceded—on the condition she wasn’t going to be a stay-at-
home mom. She’d keep her career. Hire a nanny. Maybe a housekeeper. That’s what the deal had been.
She left the aseptic aromas and cool smooth lino of the bathroom and made her way to the great room. Her stockinged feet
whispered against the plush burgundy carpet. The fridge kicked in with a low hum. The neighbour’s dog barked.
She peeped over the back of the black leather sofa and caught the strange metallic scent of approaching death. The fever
spots reddening her daughter’s cheeks looked artificial—as if someone had brushed dry tempura over a thin pale parchment.
Krystaline was too young to realize the injustice of her pain. However, she wasn’t too young to see the worry etched on her
mother’s face and understand that somehow, she was its cause. Krystaline would never have cried out had she been awake.
So many times Chorie had seen the guilt smouldering behind the glaze of pain in her daughter’s green eyes. “Mommy,” she’d
smile wanly, “I feel much better today.”
A wave of guilt brought bile to Chorie’s tongue. Sweat beaded in her cleavage and trickled into her bra. She loved Krystaline
more than anything in the world, and shouldn’t have been thinking about not wanting children.
Shouldn’t have been complaining to herself about how her life turned out. Those were evil thoughts considering…
Perhaps, she comforted herself, as she’d been counselled to do, these thoughts were simply her way of coming to accept the
inevitable, the unfathomable.
Like when an old pet starts shedding, making mistakes on the carpet, smelling bad—so that when, two months later, it sucks
its last breath, relief takes the edge off its master’s grief. Perhaps that’s what it was.
Or, perhaps, she was just finally going crazy.