Cleaning House
Beth L. Block

"Are you ever going to do anything about this mess of papers and boxes?" asked Lisa as she looked around her sister's cluttered apartment with obvious disapproval.

"I like my mess. It works for me." Debbie observed happily, sliding on plastic shopping bags as she removed their mugs of hot water from the microwave.

"Mom would have a cow."

"Well, then, good thing she's not alive to see it."

"What a terrible thing to say." Lisa said, in an obligatory tone.

Debbie shrugged it off. "You brought it up."

Pouring a little milk into her coffee and adding a teaspoon of sugar to Lisa's, Debbie asked, "So, should I even ask about you and Frank?"

Lisa rolled her eyes and sighed, "He says he's not seeing her anymore, but I think he's lying."

"I'm sorry, sis'."

Lisa sighed. "Well, what can I do? I don't want the kids to go through a divorce."

Setting her coffee down on an old magazine, Lisa took a careful stroll around the living room. A rectangular, gold gift box peeking out from underneath a newspaper caught her eye. Bending down, she saw a piece of pink, silk fabric in the box. "Ooh, la, la. Who is this intended for?"

Debbie hopped over quickly and grabbed the box. "Nobody. I mean, it's for me, but I bought it as a present to myself."

"Let me see."

"It's no big deal." said Debbie. But Lisa had already snatched the box from her and pulled out the slinky nightie. As she shook it out to take a full look, a small pink card fell to the floor. An impish grin set across Lisa's face, "A present to yourself, huh?"

Debbie swiped at the card, "Give me that!"

"Oh, lighten up Deb. I'm your sister. Who am I going to tell?"

The color drained from Lisa's face as she read the note from Frank and yelled through her tears, "Damn it, Deb! Why couldn't you have cleaned up around here?"

First published: May, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'