Emma wiped the condensation from the mirror and opened the door wide to let the room cool. She caught sight of herself in the mirror, something she tried to never do, and gasped. When did she get old? She didn’t feel old. When did her deep red hair become streaked with grey? Her hazel eyes were sunken under her sagging eyelids and she could only imagine what the rest of her body looked like. Breaking eye contact with herself, she got back to cleaning. These travellers always made such a mess, whenever they left it would take days to reset the room for the next guest. She almost regretted her decision to rent but once her dear Scott had died she had no choice, rent or move out.
Grabbing the bleach, she set to work on the bath tub. The smell of ammonia hit her and made her eyes water. She remembered the first time she had done it. She hadn’t meant to kill him but he had taken something precious from her. He claimed it was an accident, crying out everytime the frying pan came down on his head, but she didn’t believe him. When she had ornament shattered on the floor, the first Christmas present he had given her after his diagnosis, she just saw red. It was only when she was washing her hands that she realised what she had done. She expected to be hysterical, to scream her head off and call out for help. Not that anyone would come, the nearest neighbour was dodgy old Keith who kept himself to himself about five fields over. Instead an overwhelming sense of calm had washed over her as she worked on disposing the body. It was surprisingly difficult to get rid of a body and portly Richards had taken an exceptionally long time because of all the excess fat. She felt calmer than she had been in years as she worked on mincing him up to feed to the pigs. Of course it didn’t take that long now, she was a dab hand at it.
She stood up, her knees cracking as they adjusted to not being bent anymore. The bathroom looked pristine, as shiny and sterile as the rest of the room. Feeling a sense of pride, she headed downstairs for a well deserved cup of tea. The kettle had just come to a whistling boil when she heard it.
Ding dong. Ding dong. Not even a whimper from Titus who was laying on his bed chewing his treat. Useless.
She walked to the door so fast it was almost a skip, she loved meeting new people. Opening the door she was greeted by a typical traveller. Tanned, hair messily tied in plaits and ropes tied around her wrist that were supposed to make her look well travelled but just made her look messy. Still, Emma smiled.
“Hailey I presume?”
“Yes, hi. Sorry I was just admiring this gorgeous wall ornament. The red is beautiful and the padlocks on it are so mysterious, all different but somehow all fit perfectly, where they part of the design or did you add them yourselves?”
Emma leaned out the door and smiled. “Yes I add them after each of my visitors stay as a reminder, they are like friends you see. I’ll probably get one of you by the end of your stay too”
She stepped to one side and gestured for Hailey to walk past her into the house. Hailey passed her an envelope full of cash without question and took a beeline straight for the dog. Emma sighed, irritated, but started on making tea for them both. As her hand wrapped around the kettle handle, Hailey’ s voice rung out in the background
“Aren’t you a gorgeous boy! Yes you are! What are you chewing on? What you got?” Her voice went through Emma like a dentist drill through her rotten teeth. Taking deep breaths, she tried to calm herself but the girl would not shut the hell up! Her hand tightened on the handle of the kettle until her knuckles were white. As she lifted it into the air, she kept thinking about how good the shiny silver padlock on Haileys wrist would look on her red heart outside.
This was written in response to the Creative Writing INK Prompt
Art is by Alex Block on Unsplash