This story is part of the Haibun Challenge
“All I need you to do today is vacuum the living room,” my prospective employer says, “perhaps a bit of dusting.” When I walk into her living room, there’s an old-fashioned gas lawnmower covered with one of those French Maid doll covers, complete with a cloth-stuffed broom.
personal assistant needed
for elderly woman
I uncover the lawnmower, set the French Maid doll on the sofa, arranging her skirts around her while my prospective employer watches. “Her name is Mary,” my employer offers, and I reply, “Nice to meet you, Mary,” with my most engaging smile.
tufts of brown carpet
scatter throughout the room
“Perhaps you’ll sweep the kitchen, too? There’s a dear.” My prospective employer points to the broom closet, where assorted rakes rest against cans of gas. There’s a rag bin, too, overflowing with evening dresses, a cashmere sweater, wool pants, and silk shirts, their pearlescent buttons hanging by thin threads.
glisten beneath the skylight
“I think you will work out splendidly,” the woman says. “Can you come tomorrow, dear?” She hands me a jar of peanut butter, chunky, and a bottled water. “Of course,” I say, making sure she locks the door behind me, promising to be there at 11:00am.
how my spine
When I arrive the next day, there is another woman in the house, a much younger woman, and yet there is definitely a resemblance between the two. “You passed my first test, dear, and now I have something special for you to do.”
at the end
a locked door
The woman reaches into a pocket, pulls out a misshapen key, unlocks the door. The room is filled with mirrors, some hanging, some leaning against the walls, covered with sheets and decorative cloth. There’s a single chair in the middle of the room in which the woman sits.
“Would you like me to clean these mirrors?” I ask, to which she just shakes her head.
“Just one. Choose one,” she replies, and so I do.
a hand reaches through
the rippling surface
I take it and step through