by Melinda M. White

She straightened every argument, brushing resentment off the stain-resistant upholstery. She dusted the stories of how they met and fell in love, moving them to get underneath when she needed to. She washed the insults in a sink of lemon-scented bubbles, rinsed, dried, and put them away in the cupboard. She swept up the big lies and let them slide from the dustpan into the garbage can, nudging the little white ones under the rug with the side of her shoe. She sprayed and swabbed the complications, scouring the sticky spots and wringing them into a blue bucket. She folded the criticisms, hot from the dryer, neatly into piles, then matched up the hurt and anger and rolled them into tidy balls before placing them into drawers. She pulled up the patchwork memories that had slid onto the floor, tugged them tight, smoothed the wrinkles and tucked in the corners. She polished the self-respect until she could see her reflection clearly. Then, one day, she vacuumed up all the love—from where it tracked onto the carpet, clung to the drapes, hid under the couch cushions—she sucked every last bit from the corners of the ceiling with the hose and never saw it again.

Photo: Melinda M. White
Melinda M. White is a PhD candidate in the Media, Art, and Text program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also teaches composition, postmodern literature, and hypertext courses. She is currently working on her dissertation, a fiction in three media and an analysis of media and communication.

Photo by Jennifer Smith