Kelly surveyed the cramped interior. It was even worse than she imaged; like something from a scene in ‘The Shining.’ There were red stains from floor to ceiling, and upon closer examination, a leg bone could be seen peeking out from under the bench.
Her emotions fluctuated between anger and panic. How could she clean this up and dispose of the evidence before someone else found out? She got down on her hands and knees, removed a waded up tissue from her pocket and dabbed at a few of the most obvious stains. Nothing. And now the red stains had transferred onto the front of her denim jumper. That would easily blend in with the myriad of other stains, but as she glanced up, she knew the splatters on the light and the pungent odor that hung around her would require lots of time, elbow grease and quite possibly a miracle.
Flies were already gathering. Her temples throbbed. A shadow passed by the corner of her eye and she turned in horror to see her oldest standing next to the door with her mouth hanging open.
“Wow, the little boys really got out of control with the take-out didn’t they?” Addie said while surveying the carnage. “Who would have thought they could do so much damage with a of couple ketchup packets and a bucket of KFC?”
“I know, I know, I know! Don’t you think I feel horrible and stupid and do you know what your father is going to say when he sees the van like this?!” Kelly grabbed her daughter and continued. “I need you to go inside and bring me out all the Clorox wipes you can find, plus paper towels and holy water.” Addie turned to go inside. “Oh, and a nice scented candle,” Kelly quickly called after her. “Grab the one out of the downstairs bathroom and tell everyone they need to go upstairs for a number two until I’m done out here!”
She glanced at her watch. Three hours until Tony arrived home. She had to clean the van, correct school work, make dinner and make sure the older three showered before scouts. She stood there, perspiration soaking her underarms when Addie shoved cleaning supplies into her hands.
“Mama, do you need any help? Can I get you anything else? Should I start dinner?” she asked in quick succession, desperately trying to prevent one of her mother’s notorious mood swings.
“No,” Kelly said, repressing her inner Mr. Hyde. “Just come and get me if the little boys need anything.”
Addie ran back inside and tried to remain upbeat, even though she knew the day’s disaster in the van would probably signal the end of ‘Take Out Tuesday.’
Kelly swung open both doors on the side of the van and was disappointed to see that a little fresh air and sunshine only made her task seem more insurmountable. She desperately craved a hard cider and a haz mat suit.
Later that evening, while she was loading the dishwasher, Kelly felt a knot in her stomach when Tony called from the mudroom, “I’m going outside to get Sunday’s bulletin. We left it in the van again and I need the calendar.” She tried to stop him but the slam of the storm door cut her off.
She muttered a quick prayer and hoped the darkness would prevent him from discovering any evidence of the day’s misdeeds. She’d worked her tail off for almost two hours but some of the stains refused to budge. Kelly was sure Pinterest held the miracle solution to her stain problem but she hadn’t yet had a chance to look.
The storm door slammed again and she heard Tony’s footsteps come through the house at a quickened pace. She quickly opened the fridge and grabbed a beer to offer him. When she closed it, he stood there peering at her.
“What the heck Kelly?”
“I….I…Would you like a beer?”
“What was a lit Yankee candle doing out in the van? Is there any reason the van needed to reek of ‘Clean Linen’ today?”
“Um…Would you like a beer?”
“No! Well, yes, but, could you please explain this to me.” He grabbed the beer, opened it, and took a swig, never unlocking his eyes from her face.
“I cleaned the van today and I wanted it to smell fresh. I must have forgotten about the candle.” She wrapped her arms around him. “I’m sorry.”
Tony softened instantly, and set down the beer to embrace her fully.
“Papa!” Byron rushed into the kitchen. “Did Mama tell you about the mess Teddy and Fulton made in the van today? There was ketchup everywhere! Look, Mama still has some in her pony tail. It was even on the ceiling! And the lights! Did you get it all clean Mama? And did you find that chicken bone that Teddy threw at me?”
Kelly stared at her son and his big goofy grin, and heaved a huge defeated sigh. Clearly these children were her ticket to heaven, one painful step at a time.
No vans were harmed in the telling of this fictional tale. Kelly thinks you should write in the third person today too and leave a link to your post in the comments.