Annabelle Cleans House, Part 1: Bed, Bath, & Hallway

Editor's note: This triptych of how-to remembrances was so fresh and funny, we decided to run them as a serial. See here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

It’s Saturday. Wake up at the crack of dawn. Start the coffee. Run your fingers over a bar of Ivory, caking the soap under each nail. The soap will soften your nails and keep them from breaking while you work your fingers to the bone.

Pour a cup of coffee, take a few sips, then set your cup down and forget where it is.

Start upstairs with your bedroom, the hallway, and the bathroom. The kids can clean their own pig pens later; let them pretend to sleep for now. You know they are pretending because you’ve already made enough noise, wrestling the behemoth Electrolux up the stairs, to wake their dead grandmothers.

Vacuum first, then dust, because vacuuming raises more dust. Bang the vacuum against the kids’ bedroom doors whenever you think about the futility of that.

Annabelle’s home from 1959 until 1975, where she kept house and raised four children

Annabelle’s home from 1959 until 1975, where she kept house and raised four children

In the bathroom, rinse the tub and sink then sprinkle heavily with Comet cleanser. Wearing rubber gloves, scrub surfaces lightly with damp sponge and leave the pasty bleach to work on the stains of the worn porcelain while you clean the toilet. Cuss at the hard water stains in the bowl. Flush. Return to the tub and scrub harder, cussing more, then rinse. Repeat for the sink. Windex the mirror, then use the same paper towel to polish the faucets.

Fill a bucket with hot water and Lysol. Scrub the floor on your hands and knees, working your way backwards out the door, cussing at the mildew-stained grout between the ugly, tiny, hexagon tiles.

Carry the bucket downstairs and look for your cup of coffee.

Tomorrow and Thursday: Parts 2 and 3.

Judith Liebaert is a freelance writer living in rural Wisconsin, where she is restoring an 11-foot vintage Decamp travel trailer to use for her escape with Gypsy Cat. Aside from her regular gigs writing for regional B2B mags, her short stories and essays have appeared in Aqueous Magazine, Maximum Middle Age, and Ravishly, along with numerous now defunct lit-mags pre the interwebs. Her debut novel, Sins Of The Fathers, was released by Tellectual Press on June 18, 2016, a story inspired by the still unsolved homicide of a young boy in her small Midwestern town, in the summer of 1966.