Help Around the House

by Emily LAWTON
 

“Lana, can you help me with this box?”

“No! Look what I’m doing!” she stepped along carefully, making her way across the top edge of the narrow stone wall. She pointed her left foot dramatically like a tightrope-walker and placed it, toe then heel, in front of her right.

“It’s a present for you!”

She hopped off the wall, doing her soft landing and rolling a few times across the mossy lawn. She sprung up in front of me.

“What is it?” Lana grabbed the box, which was sandwiched precariously between a bag of groceries and the crook of my arm. “Mmmm! smells good!”

I shoved the door open with a grocery-laden hip. Lana sat on the sidewalk and pried open the box. “Hey! This is…” she pulled out the cellophane-wrapped cube inside and examined it closely, to see what the secret was. “Soap?”

“That’s right, filthpot!” I shouted cheerfully. “Now put it in the linen closet like a good girl.”

Through the window, I could see her still sitting on the sidewalk, her face turning a certain familiar shade of red. I put the oatmeal in one cabinet, the bread in another, all the while waiting for her tantrum.

And it came. “You tricked me!” she yelled, “soap isn’t a present! Soap isn’t a present!” She started to sob and thrash herself about on the sidewalk. I’d leaned down to put a bottle of 409 under the sink when I heard the crash above my head. A shower of broken glass heralded the arrival of a block of 9 bars of soap, which sailed across the kitchen and skidded to a stop in a pile of rainbow fragments.

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