Flash fiction: Mom’s Weekend Off by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that features a springtime ritual.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. Stay tuned for an illustrated re-release of the first three titles and the release of book 4!

Mom’s Weekend Off

By Val Muller

It was the day that woke the soul. That’s how Patty thought about it, anyway. You know the one: the first spring day after winter when the sun is so warm that it’s dangerously close to feeling too hot, but it isn’t because the cold of winter is still stuck into the inside of your bones, which are saturated with winter’s chill. It’s that time of year where you will feel you will never say too hot again.

Dan and the kids were away til the morning, and Dan told Patty to enjoy herself, a once in a blue moon free weekend day alone, a full 24 hours. She promised she had only one task, and then she might go to the movies or take a bath or just hang out in the hammock and read. She would only eat cereal and would not lift a finger in the kitchen other than that.

Just the one task, then it would be time to relax. It was time for the birdhouse clean-out, her annual harbinger of spring. The last two weekends it had rained, so Patty had done the typical indoor spring cleaning, but it didn’t feel like spring until the birdhouse cleanout, the emptying of last year’s nests to make room for this year.

Of course it required the ladder, so she went to the garage to retrieve it. Several cardboard boxes had piled up since Christmas, too big to fold up into the recycling bin, and now they blocked the ladder. She’d been meaning to take them to the recycling center. She guessed now was just as nice a day as any. So she went to the van to lower the seats, making room for the cardboard.

Of course, that’s when she saw the detritus left by the kids all winter. It was their chore to clean the car weekly, but it had been so cold that everyone had let it slide for weeks, and now the floor of the van was a graveyard of dead French fries, candy wrappers, and Cheerios. She couldn’t just leave that mess until Monday, so she swept out the floor and then took a vacuum to it. Finally, the van was ready, and she stacked the cardboard and left, nodding to the birdhouse as she left the driveway.

“Be right back,” she told it.

On the way back from the recycling center, a group of Boy Scouts were selling mulch at the edge of a parking lot. It had been three years since Patty re-mulched the flower beds, and they were having a “buy three, get one free” deal. They even loaded the mulch into the van for her.

Back home, she unloaded the mulch and scowled at the mess it left in the freshly-vacuumed van, so back into the house, get the vacuum, clean the van, put the seats back up. But then the four bags of mulch were in the middle of the driveway. Dan would not be able to pull through when he returned with the kids. So, into the garage to get the hoe, break open the mulch, and head to the gardens.

Which needed to be weeded.

By the time that was finished, it was nearly dinnertime. Patty stood in the kitchen, trying to decide which cereal to pour, but the warm weather called to her—no, it demanded a barbeque. So into the freezer to look for something to grill. Digging through the shelves, she caused an avalanche of several opened-and-frozen bags of shredded cheese, which of course she insisted on consolidating while the steak thawed long enough for her to grill. She dug through even further to find the oldest of the frozen bagged vegetables to make with the steak. Then she organized the veggies in order of expiration date.

As she heated the grill, she realized the patio furniture was still covered for winter, so she removed the covers, but then there was the half-built wasp’s nest under the table, which she had to clear, and then of course she took a sponge and soap to the table and chairs.

The sun was nearly setting after dinner, and she hurried to store the furniture covers in the garage until next winter. In the garage, she saw the ladder leaning against a wall, now visible since the cardboard had been cleared. The wind kicked up and reminded her of the loose piece of siding on the front of the house, so she moved the ladder, got out the rubber mallet, and hammered the siding back in. While up there, she saw the gutters had pulled loose from melting ice, so she hammered in the nails, moving carefully along the front of the house until it was too dark to see.

She put the ladder back in the garage and scratched her head. It was hard to shake the feeling that she was forgetting something. But the kids were with Dan, she reminded herself. She had no responsibilities for a few more hours. Her muscles were more achy than normal, so she went upstairs to take a bath.

The next morning, no one woke her, and she slept until the pitter-patter of feet traveled through the hall. “Mom! We missed you!” her son was screaming.

“Will you read me the mouse-cookie book?” screamed her daughter.

Patty sat up in bed, discombobulated by the strange feeling of having had a good night’s sleep. She took a moment to process the situation while Dan stood over her.

“Wow,” he said. “Still asleep at ten, and the nest from the bird house still sticking out. You really did take it easy. Good for you—I didn’t think you’d be able to just relax. You always did work too hard. Let me know when you’re awake,” he said. “I’ll get out the ladder for you.”

The Spot Writers—Our Members: 

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/


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