Annabelle stood in the bathroom door and began slipping her slender fingers into the rubber cleaning gloves she’d found under the kitchen sink. There were wefts of hair everywhere – all over the sink and sprinkled on the floor. She knew that Whites and Indians shed hair, but these follicles looked as though they’d been abandoned on the porcelain and tile for at least a few weeks. Many of them were spackled into clumps with crusty mint toothpaste. She sprayed the sink and mirror with disinfectant and began to vigorously wipe them both down.
Satisfied with her efforts, she wiped a bead of sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. She then turned her attention to the toilet. What she saw there made her freeze. She drew a sharp breath.
There was a nickel sized nugget of shit resting lifelessly on the rim of the toilet set. Annabelle was in disbelief. It took her an eternity to process what was happening here. She knew for a fact that Ravi was the last person to use this toilet, because Anitha habitually used the downstairs facilities. She had always wondered why the woman trekked away from the master bath to use the guest facilities, and now she knew why. An image of Ravi’s hulking, sweaty frame crouched over the toilet seat flashed in her mind. She saw him getting up after wiping himself (if he actually even bothered), turning to flush, recognizing that he had left fecal matter splattered all over the porcelain and walking away, as if the poo would grow legs and walk off the seat on its own.
Did he expect to come back later and seat himself on his abandoned shit, or did he have a full expectation that one of the women in this would wipe up after him? She was indignant. She removed the gloves from her hands and placed them on the water closet. He would know that she had been there, but he would also deduce that there was no way in Hell she was going to wipe up his putrid crap! He was a medical professional for Pete’s sake!
After turning her attention to the rest of the house, Annabelle stretched her back and stared blankly out of the bay window. How could human beings live like this? At that moment, Anitha pulled into the courtyard. Annabelle watched her walk in as she washing her hands in the kitchen sink.
“Hi,” she greeted Anitha.
“Hi,” Anitha said with a sigh. She had just come back from cleaning a condo she had rented to a pair of male college students. Annabelle could only image what sort of chaos they must have left at their departure. After all, she herself had just been confronted and acquainted with another man’s turd.
“Can you go out to the car and get the bag of cleaning supplies I left in there?” Anitha asked as she poured herself a drink.
Annabelle looked at the woman and then looked out the window at the car that was no more than 50 feet away. You couldn’t grab that stuff out of the backseat of your car as you were walking in?!?
Annabelle was taken aback by the request. Anitha raised her eye brows over the rim of her glass as she drank her water.
“Yeah. No problem.”
This was insane.
When she got back into the house, Anitha had fished a book from one of the shelves in the living room.
“This is a parenting book that I refer to to help me with Serena,” she said cheerily. “It’s really helped us a lot and it has really good advice. I’d like you to read it.”
She handed the manuscript to Annabelle.
“One of the things I’d like you to stop saying at once are the words ‘calm down’ when addressing Serena,” Anitha continued. “We musn’t tell her to calm down. Rather, we must advise her to take deep breaths and breathe away her frustration.”
You gotta be kidding me.
“Anitha,” Annabelle began cautiously, “you know, I HAVE watched a number of children, and these books are not one size fits all. Perhaps we might consider…”
“Let’s just read this book first and try things my way,” Anitha said, cutting her off. “You know I WAS trained as a pediatrician, before I changed courses.”
“Sure, Anitha. Whatever you think is best.”
“Great! Well, I have to dash out again. It’s almost time to get Serena. When I get back, I think we need to discuss getting this house in order.”
House in order? You didn’t hire me to be your maid. I’m the frikkin’ nanny! Annabelle clenched her jaw and took deep breaths, as Anitha had just suggested.
“Okay,” she said limply.
“And please don’t forget to give Serena her lunch!”
Anitha reached for her keys and drove off in her Infinity. Annabelle steadied herself on the kitchen counter. Was she in the Twilight Zone? She gathered her purse and prepared to pick up Serena.
School ended at 1:30, and Serena was generally hungry when Annabelle picked her up. Her mother had gotten her accustomed to getting lunch as soon as she got in the car.
“I want my lunch,” Serena said to Annabelle as she buckled herself into her seat.
“Good afternoon, Serena,” Annabelle said sarcastically. “And you can have your lunch when we get home to the table.”
Serena sulked in the back seat.
Annabelle warmed up the rice and spinach stew that her mother had prepared for her. She could smell the spices and wondered how the child could stomach the heat. It turns out she couldn’t.
Serena turned her face away from the spoon as Annabelle tried to give it to her. Eventually, she gave up and gave her humus and pita bread, one of the 3 meals that was on Serena’s approved meal list. She left the child to sort it out on her own.
When Anitha returned, Serena flung herself into her mother’s arms, whining about being hungry.
“Annabelle,” Anitha said with concern, “did you feed Serena?”
“Yes. I gave her humus and pita. She didn’t want the rice and spinach.”
“Did you give her the rice and spinach on the way home?”
“No,” Annabelle drawled. “I was driving. I waited to give it to her at home.”
“Oh! Well we try to feed her in the car so that she’s not starving by the time she gets home. The pita is for snack,” Anitha explained, as though talking to a child.
This woman is nuts. She wants me to drive AND feed the kid at the same time?
It was time to say something.
“Anitha. I thought we were trying to teach Serena to eat at the table like a big girl. And apart from that, driving and feeding her is dangerous.”
“Well, just try it,” Anitha continued, as if Annabelle had never spoken. “We don’t want her hungry, do we?”
Serena was writhing and tugging at her mother’s hem the entire conversation, playing out her obvious displeasure. Annabelle silently stared at the two of them, as if the pair were a singular inbred Siamese mythical beast.
6 months. Annabelle gave this gig 6 months before she would bail. That was plenty of time. After all, this arrangement wasn’t a celebrity marriage, was it?
Do you think you are ready to hear more of the craziness? Because it doesn’t stop here! Holla if you want to read more of The Hue!