It was a typical January day - minus 20ºF. A good day for indoor chores like dusting furniture, washing floors or scrubbing the shower.
Marcia had stripped to her underwear and was kneeling inside the white-tiled shower stall. She was attacking the grey-brown grout with a plastic ‘Scrubby’ sponge and some cleanser, trying to restore the original pristine white color of the grout lines. It was a painstaking process, but what else was there to do on a January day in Winnipeg?
Marcia had been at her task for about an hour when she paused to admire her progress. One wall done - just two more walls and the shower floor to go. She’d be finished in time to prepare dinner. She moistened her Scrubby, shook the can of cleanser, and was about to start on the second wall when she realized that the can was empty. Oh well, better get the spare can, she thought. Fortunately, no one could see into her apartment, which was on the 14th floor of the tallest building in the neighborhood.
Paddling barefoot to the kitchen cupboard where her cleaning supplies resided between their occasional outings, Marcia reached for a virgin can of cleanser. But the spare can that she knew (or thought she knew) to be in the cupboard could not be found. Then she remembered. Only the week before, a neighbor asked to 'borrow' some cleanser and Bob, her accommodating husband, handed over their last unopened can. Unfortunately, she didn’t know which neighbor had kidnapped her cleanser.
Sighing, Marcia dressed and prepared to track down the errant cleanser. Most likely, it had come to rest at one of the other units on her floor. She knocked at apartment 1401. No answer. Apartments 1403 and 1404, likewise. Finally, her knock at 1405 brought results. “Oh yes, dearie,” silver-haired Mrs. Stickley replied with a gentle smile as she rested her hand on Marcia’s forearm. “That was so nice of your Bob to give me the cleanser. I used some and then that sweet Mr. Selby in apartment 1208 asked if he could borrow it. You know - that nice old man who is hard of hearing. No, I don’t know his phone number. But he’s almost always home. Why, he told me only last week...”
Marcia escaped from Mrs. Stickley’s tender but insistent grasp, and rode the elevator down to the 12th floor. After five minutes of progressively louder knocks, Mr. Selby finally opened his door a crack and peered out. “What's that you said? The cloister? Oh, the cleanser? Yes, I remember now. Mrs. Stickley said that she didn’t need it back, so I gave the rest to Mrs. Pewarchuk in 705.”
One hour later, after following a trail that led from Mrs. Pewarchuk in 705, to Mr. Soames in 1002, and thence to Mlle. Lefebvre in 306, Marcia arrived, tired but victorious, back at her own door. As she reached into her pocket for the key, her air of triumph transformed into frustration. She turned abruptly, rode the elevator down to the lobby and rang for the superintendent. “I’ve locked myself out of my apartment,” Marcia growled into the intercom speaker. “Could you please come up to 1402 and open the door?”
“Ya, OK,” a tinny voice crackled back at her. “I be there soon soon.”
In no time at all - only a half hour or so - Marcia reentered her apartment, clutching her cleanser. She undressed, walked back into the shower stall, wet her Scrubby, shook the can and stared in disbelief. Not even a single white grain on the sponge! Just then, the phone rang. She raced to answer, almost slipping on the bathroom floor in her haste.
“Hello, honey,” she heard Bob say. “How’s your day going?”
“Dear,” she replied, “you don’t want to hear about it!”
©2013 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.
A Note of Explanation: The prompt for this piece of fiction was "You don't want to hear about it."