Edna Willington stood there quietly admiring her
just completed task with a satisfied expression upon her tired face.
She was dressed in a purple polyester floral dress and a knee length
pink apron neatly tied about her waist. Her grey shoulder length
hair was tied back with a brown scarf. On her hands were bright
yellow rubber gloves which extended all the way up to her elbows.
Directly by her side sat a large bucket of warm sudsy water, a heavy
duty scrubbing brush, several bleached white towels, a mop, and
a sponge. There was a strong, but comforting, scent of disinfectant
permeating throughout the generously proportioned Georgian house.
A house that was perfectly perched in the most fashionable part
of the Oxford countryside on a three acre lot. Edna continued to
sit there contently examining the hallway. The mock marble tiles
shone, the baseboard sparkled and the recently painted beige walls
were completely spotless. After several days of scrubbing, cleaning,
polishing and buffing, the whole house was now finished
she could finally relax. Well, at least until tea time. Edna, always
one to maintain a spotless home, took particular satisfaction in,
as is traditional at this time of the year, a complete clean out.
At sixty-four years old, she had never had a career
of her own, despite fanciful schoolgirl dreams of being a financially
independent modern woman. She, like so very many of her generation,
had in her late teens married and quickly bore two children. Children
who had seemed to Edna to have grown up all too quickly and were
now married with children of their own and leading successful and
She could not quite recall the last time
that she had seen them, and apart from the occasional telephone
call had very little to do with them. This she understood, but still
hated. While the children were living at home she had a clear sense
of defining purpose, there was validation for her existence, but
they had left twenty plus years since
Over those years maintaining
an immaculately clean home had been the only satisfaction she had
This all was working rather well up until two months
prior. Edna will not soon forget that particular Friday, as that
was the day that the unthinkable happened. Yes, as that was the
fateful, life altering day her husband of the last forty-nine years,
Alfred Willington, retired from his position of senior managing
director with a large international building society. Edna, please
appreciate, had found it an acceptable dilemma taking care of him
for breakfast and in the evenings. Breakfast was a structured routine;
she simply presented him with toast, marmalade, fresh orange juice,
a pot of tea and his morning paper. He would occasionally grunt,
quickly consume, and then be gone, without even a wave goodbye.
Nine hours and twenty later he would arrive home to a now spotless
house and the customary large dry gin martini will be chilled and
awaiting him with three olives. She remembered the day that she
had ran out of olives
How he had yelled and raised his hand
to her. But it was a lesson learned, as she never forgot again
Then she would run his bath, making sure it was the perfect temperature,
and as he soaked and enjoyed a second martini, Edna would make the
evening meal; Alfred always insisted on home cooked meals and regarded
dining out as folly and an unneeded luxury
And besides, Edna
knew precisely how he wanted everything and what he liked. Even
the weekends were more-or-less bearable for Edna; they always did
precisely the same things, and every Sunday Alfred would attend
his Golf Club as Edna completed the laundry and spent the afternoon
ironing. Alfred insisted that everything was ironed, from the shirts
and towels right down to his vest and underwear
This was okay
with Edna, as she always fully understood that Monday was just around
the corner and that Alfred would be going off to work in his classic
Mach 2 Jaguar by precisely 8:20, with his financial times tidily
folded under his arm and a briefcase which carried barely more than
his cheddar cheese and tomato sandwiches, (on whole wheat bread,
naturally, with the crusts trimmed off) and a flask of tea that
she prepared for him, and that her organized cleaning routine would
soon be running along smoothly.
What compounded matters further was the new hobby
that Alfred had seen fit to adopt to fill in his new found spare
timegardening. For whatever reason, Alfred had decided to
let the gardener go and take up the task of maintaining their substantial
gardens himself. And what is more, he expected a continuous supply
of pots of tea
This also meant that Alfred was continually
traipsing in and out the house (his bladder not being quite what
it once was).
As Edna stood there, her contented look was to be
short lived, as all at once the front door swung open to reveal
Alfred standing there. He was dressed in a dress shirta shirt
that the night before had been painstakingly hand washed, starched
and pressed perfectly. He was also wearing a pair of light brown
corduroys which were covered in stains of varying hues and intensity
Some were green, others were brown and others still she couldn't
even bring herself to imagine what might have made them. On his
size eleven sized feet were his favorite pair of Wellington boots
which were, as usual these days, caked in thick mud.
"Put the kettle on please, dear," he said
confidently as he marched in the door and plodded along the hallway.
"I am parched, and could murder a decent cuppa."
Edna watched on in complete horror as he tore of
at the foot of the stairs, and promptly continued
to march up them.
She studied the mud trails on the mock marble tile.
She studied the mess he was leaving as he walked up the stairs.
Then she studied her heavy duty scrubbing brush. Suddenly an overpowering
urge transformed her and, without thinking and with an uncustomary
sparkle in her eye, she abruptly grabbed the brush and stormed with
remarkable agility and speed after him. He was halfway up the stairs
and on the landing when she cudgeled him over the back of the head.
He, being understandably startled, swiftly swung around to confront
her. He opened his mouth to speak, and the perfectly manicured moustache
trembled over his pudgy lips, but before he could utter a single
syllable, she hit him again. The brush this time landed directly
onto his temple with considerably more force than the previous blow.
There was an agonizing moment of silence as Alfred's expression
transformed from confusion to anger and then finally to an empty
dazed stare. The silence was broken by a series of thumps as Alfred
fell downwards. Edna looked at the bottom of the stairs. Alfred
lay there silent with his arms and legs unnaturally contorted. His
head had met with considerable resistance the cold hardness of the
mock marble tile floor. It was only then that the complete and utter
horror of what had just unfolded and the dire implications infiltrated
her befuddled mind. She studied, with disgust, the blood gently
easing out from his balding head over the freshly cleaned tile.
Her next move was urgent and purposeful
She skipped furiously
down the stairs and back to her bucket of sudsy water and picked
up a towel and a mop.
"Another mess to clean up," she said out
loud in a calm, methodical matter of fact tone.
Then she began to whistle cheerfully, just as she
used to as a schoolgirl.