Two women arrive to try and exorcise the things that plague her; tiny blood sucking bugs which multiply almost as fast as the thoughts in her head.
‘Get out, get out,’ the wife says, ‘don’t you know it’s still illegal to look through people’s windows.’
‘We’re here to help you’ they say, while surveying her pock-marked body.
The wife doesn’t respond and the women set to work with dustpan and brush to collect the large debris and then bag it. The vacuum cleaner gobbles stale crisp remnants and months of dust and cobwebs. Beds are stripped and mattresses, carpets, corners and crevices are sprayed.
In the kitchen the washing machine whirrs softly, quickly obliterating coffee, cosmetic and grubby finger print stains.
These were tasks the wife would have done when she was alive and her husband and child were living in a house filled with chaos, laughter and aromas of stew simmering on the range and fabric conditioner rising from newly made beds.
But the house is empty now; no sound can be heard apart from incoherent whispering. No sunlight touches her dead-eyed face. She is as cold as the water in the bath she filled at an unknown hour to bathe her child. The women deduce it was for the child because the cap is missing from the tear-free shampoo and bright yellow ducks sit beside the faucet waiting for small hands to tip them into multi-faceted bubbles, which dissolved hours ago.
‘Do you want to take a bath, dear?’ Selma asks.
The wife does not answer.
Selma gently guides the wife into the bedroom while the last of the water gurgles down the plughole.
‘Hush now child,’ she says, ‘your bed is ready, the sheets are clean, the cooties are gone and we will leave a light on to keep your safe.’
The wife whispers ‘Goodnight sweetheart, don’t let the bedbugs bite. Daddy will be home in the morning.’
©Talia Hardy 2014