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My Cleaner

by Jubbly 

Posted: 09 November 2005
Word Count: 3729
Summary: This has been uploaded before but how has now had an extensive rewrite. If anyone can bear to read it again or if anyone else can comment I'd be very grateful. Think I've made a bit of a hash of my tenses.

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My Cleaner

There they are again, in my hallway, her calling card of saintliness. A pair of off white slip on pumps, frayed and worn yet capable of all duties required - just like their owner. They’ve moulded to her feet, no one else could ever wear them now or would want to, they are hers and hers alone. They look so wrong and out of place next to the family shoes, Wellingtons, trainers, sandals and assorted flip-flops, all neatly positioned as if waiting for the starter’s whistle to herald the race. She arranged them so I didn’t ask her to. Her poor pathetic pumps are strangers to our expensive shoes; they will never be properly introduced or accepted, the caddy to the golfing champion. Her tread is so light, a spectre; she leaves such sombre footfalls in my house. She is extraordinary to watch - the way she scurries about my home, duster in motion - her hand moving so fast in and out of nooks and crannies over surfaces behind ornaments – it’s a dazzling domestic ballet. At first she was faceless just a name I kept forgetting - Deema or was it Lina? She Polish; and such a thin woman - ghostlike, almost translucent, she’s probably about thirty although her body is like that of a prepubescent girl’s, her pale drawn face belies any coquettish charm; it’s clear the years have been hard to her. She has wisps of light brown hair mingled with a few presumptuous grey strands, and her bony hands seem linked together by watery blue veins inside tissuey white flesh all held together by several cheap rings.

At first I'd come home from work and know immediately she'd been there. My house was clean and breathing, in its Sunday best, all done up ready for a date - relieved of the weekly build up of dust and dirt.

I leave her money in an envelope on the table on the last Friday of each month and she leaves my house in an immaculate condition.

"You must give me the name of your cleaner, isn't she a marvel?" Friends often remarked when visiting.

"Yes of course, it's Deema or Lina or is it Dora? Oh dear, I'll have to check.”

But I never did, I wanted her for myself, my little treasure, my special find - so discreet, imperceptible but for her housewifely skills and the occasional glimpse of those all purpose shoes. She became the conscience of the house, without whom we would have sunk deep into a filthy chaos of our own making.

She’s brilliant with the kid’s rooms, all those bits of coloured plastic and unidentifiable shapes that mean nothing to me and everything to them are always tidied up, dusted and sorted into their proper place; where ever that is. Odd socks and dirty football boots, disappear, and then reappear as good as new. Books are filed and straightened and the Dewey system installed.

My husband likes her too, and he’s very picky. He didn't approve of the last one we had. She used to arrive with her husband, he would sit and wait outside in the car while she toiled. She told me he wasn't well, had a bad hand and could no longer work so it was up to her. But she was slap dash and didn't always do her time.

"She's not bad this one, leaves things alone, doesn't move every bugger round so you can't find anything, and only a fiver an hour, we've lucked out here love."

Then things came undone. I didn't have to go in to work any more; they didn't want me to in fact they'd rather I didn't bother at all. Redundancy they said, lucky you my friends cooed; we envy you, think what you can do with all that spare time.

And I do, I sit and wonder. I make a coffee then another and I wonder all day long. And of course I watch her...we rarely speak.

" Hello, how are you, do want a drink?"

No, no, she shakes her head; she is a machine, a well-oiled machine. Five hours she does in total each week, yet not a morsel of food passes her thin lips, sometimes she sips from a blue plastic bottle she brings with her in her old backpack, along with her work clothes, which to be honest but for a brown cardigan are not all that different from her ordinary clothes. Plain beige tracksuits tops and grey bottoms, worn and cheap, they fall from her tiny body, like a child’s discarded party dress on a doll.

My cleaner carries her mobile with her all the time, sometimes it rings and she purrs away in her own language, words that are indistinguishable sounds to me. She smiles and nods when she passes me on the stairs or in the kitchen, she must think me a terrible nuisance, what am I doing, just sitting around drinking coffee and wondering - while she's bent double scrubbing the dirt and slime from my floor, my dirt and slime, my family’s dirt and slime, yet here I sit, no need to move a muscle, for I am paying for the privilege.

One day she had a cold, her eyes were puffed and her nose red, she sniffed and coughed and I tried to ask her to go home, to come back when she felt better, but no, she shook her head, “ No, no, I have other jobs, must do you today."

And on she went, her hacking cough burrowing its way through my skin and into my soul.

We could still afford the luxury of a cleaner even without my wage and after all she’d come to rely on us. I protested that I could do it just as easily, especially now, but my husband shook his head. She’s set a standard you see and he knows I could never complete.

"Why don't you write a book?" my husband said, "You've always wanted to do that. "

"Do some volunteer work, " sneered my daughter.

"Go back to school." added my eldest son.

“School? She’s way too old.” Jeered my youngest.

Yes, endless possibilities, but still I sit and wonder.

What could I do now, at my age? I've done what I set out to do, and they sent me home, didn't need me, made that quite clear. I was just another pen pusher anyway, not someone important, I didn't save lives I saved people’s reputations, I covered for their mistakes, I kept everything rolling, ticking over - they needed me. Now a computer does my job and a very attractive addition to the office it is. Never complains, doesn't gossip - unless programmed otherwise, a thoroughly good egg. There was a time when I was going to be a nurse, but my mother said I wasn't cut out for it. I wasn't afraid of blood, which never sickened me; I was ice to injury - that's what they all said. But I didn't have the compassion apparently, couldn't empathize, wouldn't know what to say in a crisis or terrible moment when their loved one had passed over and they’ve reached outward and upward, beseeching them not to go, not to leave them, demanding them not to die. No I 'd just stand there, numb, unable to offer support or condolences, I'd be embarrassed you see, mute in the situation, unable to help or even attempt to. I was cut out for something altogether less dramatic.
Which is probably why I went into advertising instead.

Another time I saw she’d been crying.

"Are you alright?"

"Yes, yes." she nodded. "I am carer, you know?"

"Carer? No, what do you mean?"

"I am carer in home for the old people, one of my ladies she die, very sad, I sorry, please get me more this." She held up an empty bottle of Ciff and smiled...again.

One day I came back from the shops just after she'd been, I could smell the polish and disinfectant, she herself, smelled of nothing, nothing at all, a spirit that's what she was, a sylph lingering in my home, invited but invading all at once. Then I saw, in my room, on our bed, a neat pile of clothes, my clothes, all folded, pristine, awaiting me. I rushed to them, and blushed with shame.

She'd taken my clothes out of the dryer and folded them. My things, my nightie, my mixed washed t-shirts, my underwear. Oh not my smalls! The shame of it...they're all so old, and baggy and so distant from those frilly, delicate, seductive garments I once coveted. How can the Royal family live this way? Having every personal article inspected and laundered I most certainly cannot. I grabbed at my knickers and scanned them to make sure they were clean. Oh no, how could she - this slight woman from somewhere else, bringing her strangeness and foreignness into my home and doing it all so much better than me? The humiliation washed over me, the intimacy was too much, I felt naked and stupid and useless and every other negative emotion that had resided inside me for so long took its turn in coming forward that afternoon. When I looked up I saw her, standing in the doorway. I dropped my sorry knickers and gasped.

"Hello, " she said, her ever present in my presence smile fading on her insufficient lips. "Pardon, I forgot my ring, I left it in bathroom, so sorry."

She smiled again, that smile, the one that seemed to say, I know who you are, I know you have failed, you need me, you can't cope without me, you can't even keep your pants clean. You need me.

My husband was out a lot. Business jollies, leaving drinks, projects that just had to be put to bed. I didn't like to take the hints, the late night phone calls and bleeps heralding private text messages - I played dumb, tried to smile, like her, how the hell does she do it? When he said he had to go away for the long weekend, I did it, I smiled, "Oh good, that should be great fun, bring me back ...something?"
"Yes, " he nodded; surprised that permission was given so easily, "Maybe a scarf, or what perfume do you wear?"

He left on Thursday night, the children were jumpy wouldn't settle, fought, argued, made up, screamed, ignored my pleas for peace, gave in and went to bed, then I began to wonder.

That morning, all alone; house to myself; I pictured them together, my husband and his preferred acquaintance. Not as simple as you'd imagine, I didn't even know who she was - I didn't really know if she existed at all, but I knew exactly what she'd be like if she did - she'd be nothing at all like me. He often joked about Karen, the geezer bird they called her. Karen could down pints with the best of them - it was Karen who walked away with the trophy at the Summer Go - karting works do. Karen probably shared her flat with another geezer bird; they hunt in pairs. I visualise the pair of them, -in their late twenties, sharing a flat, one has an excellent job as an account handler with a major advertising agency, the other - a trainee nurse, sweet, pretty, full of the milk of human kindness. He most probably met her in the pub near the office. "Won't you have another, my flat mate’s joining me, right after her shift, she's ever so nice, a lovely girl."

Let’s call her Jenny, yes that's her. She is petite with a toned, bronzed midriff and of course a de rigueur pierced navel. He has his Jenny and I am alone, they are together, and my children will blame me. Yes, that's the way it will be.

I’ve too much time on my hands now; I was always too busy to think such dreadful things, now I see darkness where there should be light.

Oh God, how can she smile when she is on her hands and knees scrubbing our lives from the floor. Of course she only smiles when she sees me, perhaps the rest of the time she is as miserable as I am. But I don't really know anything about her - maybe her life now is a vast improvement on what it was and because she is so grateful - she simply can't help smiling.

When she left that day I followed her. I waited cosy in my car while she stood shifting from foot to foot at the bus stop. She alighted in an area that will never be described as desirable and walked another two blocks to a place where even buses are not welcome. I parked behind a white van and watched her climb a flight of weathered stairs to the front door of a typical four storey Victorian house bereft of any former grandeur. Where once a family of five and a maid and cook lived in harmony now resides a mish mash of immigrants with little or no English between them jostling for space in overcrowded bedsits and squalor. My cleaner went inside and I realised what a fool I was. I watched a group of youths in hooded tops who should have been in school or some other institution and silently counted my blessings; then the door opened and she came out again. This time she was not alone, but holding hands with a child, a little girl of about 8 or 9, a child with the same pallor as my cleaner but fleshier and with a thick head of dark brown hair. The child was laughing and my cleaner looked almost human to me. They were joined by an older girl, maybe 18 or thereabouts, very pretty, even the hoodies noticed her and called out something like – buff, but I could be wrong. She threw them a brief glance and ran her hands through her long blonde hair. She wore a very short skirt that clung to her hips so that her pelvic bone jutted out and claimed your attention. Her top was bright pink and revealed her belly button; I could just make out a jewel glinting in the afternoon sun. When I was a young I thought it brave to get my ears pierced these days girls have a much broader selection of displayed body parts to perforate should they desire. Her lips were broad and greased in gloss, inviting some would say. On her feet she wore the highest of highest heels I’d ever seen on a walking woman. Strappy gold numbers with a suggestion of diamante. Once she’d negotiated the steep steps she did a little twirl on the footpath and the hoodies cheered. My cleaner snapped at her in their shared language and grabbed hold of the child in a tight grip, the three of them walked down the road and into another house, this time via the basement. Then I came to my senses and drove home.

“Do you have children?” I ask her the following week.

She looks confused; I hold my hand waist high in the air and repeat, “children,” and point to her. She blushes and for once loses her ever present composure.

“Yes,” she nods, “One, Rosa, she live with my Mother back home.”

“Oh, “ I say, “Do you ever get to see her?”

She looks me straight in the eye and that slow smiles creeps over her lips.

“She has just been visit, she go back now.”

So that was her daughter, now I know, but I want to know more.

“Where do you live?”

She straightens up now clearly agitated at being interrupted.

“Not far.”

“You live alone?” I press on.

“No, with many people, I share room with my sister.”

I think back to the girl I saw her with in the street, what an unlikely pair of siblings, chalk and cheese, satin and glass, Jesus and Lucifer.

Her phone rings and she smiles politely to give the impression that but for the call she’d like nothing better than to chat to me. I've never been like that; if I smile I'm usually drunk.

She's here again - my cleaner and that noise is crashing right through me Leave that bloody carpet alone! Good God! If she keeps it up she'll saw right through to the floorboards, it's clean, it's fine, I can live with my dirt…just stop!!

She seems unreasonably cheerful today; I heard her singing as she stuck the filthy toilet brush down the latrine. Singing in broken English, something from the charts I think. She stopped when she saw me though, I embarrassed her and rightly so. I pay her wages to clean not to sing, she knows she makes me uncomfortable and I think she enjoys the feeling of power it grants her. It’s not my fault her life is so hard, I asked for a cleaner not a martyr. It’s not my fault that I’m here all day doing bugger all, it’s not as if I don’t want to be somewhere else doing something else, being someone else.

I hate her, my cleaner; I've never loathed anyone so much in my life, what right has she to make me feel such a failure in my own home.

I walk toward her, glide I daresay, not a sound do I make, there she is stooped over my Dyson, she doesn’t hear me approaching. I pick up Tom's mother's old china vase, heavy and too big to maintain any grace in a suburban living room, ugly, huge and solid as a rock and hold it aloft - then bring it down hard on her head, her skull crushes and she falls back and the noise of the vacuum cleaner hums away like a macabre soundtrack to this disjointed dark thriller. She’s stopped smiling now, finally, her beige top and grey trousers infused with dark orange as her lifeblood drains from her body and floods her clothes. I stand, still, frozen, no longer sitting and wondering; now I know.

Then I hear them, pit patting through my spotless home, those Eastern European, cheap, unstylish slippers that she wears on her feet like a second skin.
Are they walking on their own? Coming for me to avenge their innocent mistress? Will they walk over me, leave footprints, attach themselves to my feet so that then I will know what it’s like to walk in her shoes?

"So, Mrs. Cooper, I come Thursday next week if that is OK, I busy Friday, OK?"

What, what, who said that?

There she stands unstoppable, Mr Sheen in one hand, dust cloth in the other.

"What, yes, of course, Thursday, that's fine."

""Goodbye, Mrs. Cooper." she nods as she wraps her old brown cardigan around her lean Olive Oil frame and struggles with the heavy front door.

"Good bye....

"Danuta...my name is Danuta, you know?"

"Yes of course Danuta, wait…what shoe size are you?”

She frowns and shakes her head, I mime, use my hands and point at her feet, and she shrugs her shoulders.

“Take these.” I say, offering her an unworn pair of court shoes from Russell and Bromley, a present from my husband, not my colour but how was he to know?

“Please, for you, or I’ll just throw them away, please.”

She smiles and clasps her hand over her mouth, making little choking noises that might be sobs or even giggles.

“Thank you, thank you, I give to my sister, thank you Mrs Cooper, thank you so very much.”

I watch through the curtains as she walks away, relieved I had not acted on my veiled malevolence.

I sit down again - afraid and wonder, how could anyone ever think such terrible thoughts and yet still be considered sane, I wonder.

A week later I followed a detour to avoid road works and took the wrong turn. I found myself beside a small and unpopular green. There were no swings and roundabouts and burned out cars had replaced cultivated trees. I scratched about for an A to Z and willed myself invisible, and then I saw them – those distinctive tarty gold high heels. One planted firmly on the road the other tilted upward in a contrived seductive pose. The owner of the shoes leaned through a car window and spoke softly with the driver. Her skirt barely covered her knickers and her skinny legs were more pole dancer’s poles than human limbs. A sequinned bra hung off her scrawny body – revealing empty cups where there should be breasts. Danuta climbed into the passenger seat and the car drove away.

My cleaner looks tired these days, I ask her if she’s working too hard what with her other job at the old people’s home, but she shakes her head and smiles.

“I need to work, my daughter is to come here and live and I need more money you know?”
Humiliation forces me to up her pay, I offer her an extra pound per hour, she is eternally grateful I say nothing about what I saw, besides I’m very good at jumping to conclusions, according to my husband I do it all the time.

Danuta didn’t show up to clean that week, or the following week.

“Perhaps she’s gone home to see her daughter.” I say to my disappointed husband.

“What daughter?” he replies.

“She’s got a little girl called Rosa who lives with her grandmother in Poland.”

“How very interesting.” He says in that sarcastic tone he reserves for me when I’ve bored him.

A few weeks later whilst scanning for the small ads in our local paper I saw a face I recognised. A passport photograph of a gaunt young woman stared at me blankly, incongruously placed beside a headline that shouted – Polish Prostitute found strangled on the Marshes. Followed by a detailed description of her clothing and jewellery and a short list of the people she’s left behind – a mother, a sister, a daughter.

My cleaner will no longer need the meagre weekly wage I pay her, at last Danuta has stopped smiling and I finally begin to cry.

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Comments by other Members

Perry Quitt at 16:10 on 09 November 2005  Report this post
This is a very good short story. I liked the way you developed a simple and mundane situation into something quite macabre, and how you started to resent the one person who had served you well when the cause of that resentment was a former employer. (Is that right?)

As it stands I think the structure is fine. However, I think there is an opportunity to develop a few lines from simple observations to include your thoughts at the time. You may even be able to develop sub-plots. For example

‘She is extraordinary to watch - the way she scurries about my home, duster in motion - her hand moving so fast in and out of nooks and crannies over surfaces behind ornaments – it’s a dazzling domestic ballet. Sometimes I catch myself watching her with fascination.’

You may wish to develop your watching your cleaner to help the reader understand why you are fascinated.

Perhaps with a vague air of guilt you pry through a crack in the door as she whisks between the vase, the porcelain and other breakable items. Is there a risk in her speed and is your anxiety overpowered by a greater fascination?

‘My husband likes her too, and he’s very picky. He didn't approve of the last one we had.’

If you think it appropriate, there may be an opportunity to develop a little tension with ‘My husband likes her too…’ such as, recently he seems to talk about her more. He even suggested she came for dinner… This is probably way off what you want to do, but it might make for some intrigue if tied in with how your story ends.

Minor point - I think you missed out a ‘to’ in ‘She used arrive…’

I hope you find this helpful. I did enjoy it. Good luck

Jubbly at 21:08 on 09 November 2005  Report this post

Thankyou very much for reading and commenting Perry, I really appreaciate it. You've given me some good ideas and I'll incorporate them as soon as possible.



Dee at 19:03 on 10 November 2005  Report this post
Fabulous story, Julie.

I love the way the tension and resentment slowly build, and her bewilderment when she realises she hasn’t murdered her cleaner.

Are they walking on their own? Coming for me to avenge their innocent mistress? Will they walk over me, leave footprints, attach themselves to my feet so that then I will know what it’s like to walk in her shoes?

It needs an edit for punctuation – lots of missing commas and lines that would probably be better as separate sentences – but that’s easily sorted. It’s a damned good story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


Becca at 06:36 on 11 November 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie,
long time no speak!
The part about Danuta's sister is interesting indeed. I once had a surgeon who did me an op. who was Polish, and was dressed more or less how you describe the sister, only her high heels were transparent plastic. I've been thinking about the psychology of the MC and somehow for me it doesn't quite gell. I understand the growing obsession and the transition from liking Danuta to loathing her, but I think this element needs more work, especially as it has to slip in alongside a myriad of observations about everyday things, some of which support the MC's state of mind and others which don't. I wondered if you'd thought about making Danuta the prostitute, - when she's not cleaning houses? That would put some sizzle into the story and throw up a load of thoughts about migrant women workers and the differences between them and the privileged women who employ them.

There's so much detail about the MC's thinking that I wish I could like her more and feel some of what she feels, or that she was even nastier than she is, - but as a character at the moment, I can't get to grips with her.
I liked very much the way shoes are meaningful in lots of different ways through the story, your story of course, but if Danuta was also a prostitute with strappy shoe-things, the MC giving her a pair of court shoes would have extra poignancy.
I thought the first para very long and over descriptive and because of its length and detail it sort of unbalances the story a bit.
The husband waiting in the car is a thing that rings true, but it's a kind of throw away line that doesn't go anywhere much in the MC's perception of Danuta, so do you need it?
Does Danuta being slap dash not contradict things said about her before?
I think the 'I leave her money' para might be better in the past tense, I do think there's something a bit tangled about the tenses, but it could be because I can't tell if you're using the present tense to talk about something in the past in the way people do sometimes, a grammatical colloquialism.
Here are some typos etc:
'starters'--> starter's
'girls'--> girl's
'she used arrive' - a missing 'to'?
'families'--> family's
full stop missing after '.. do you today'
'peoples'--> people's
'I wasn't afraid of blood' needs a comma
'bed sits'--> bedsits, isn't it?
'to a place that even buses are not welcome' in? or, to a place where even buses are not welcome?
'how was he to know' needs a question mark
'owners'--> owner's
'dancers'--> dancer's

You probably know my thoughts on too many adjectives, - I just think when only a few are used they have great power, but if you took away none of them, 'horizontal lips' implies that lips could be configured in another way, vertically comes to mind! And insufficient lips does sound weird. '(L)ean olive oil frame' changes Danuta from the description above where she's got a 'pale drawn face' and 'tissuey white flesh.' There isn't that much sun in Poland!

Jubbly at 15:02 on 11 November 2005  Report this post
Dee and Becca thankyou both so much for reading and commenting. I'm thrilled you liked it Dee, that means a lot to me. Becca I'm apalled at my dreadful grammar thanks so much for the English lesson. That's a great idea about Danuta turning to prostitution, I'll keep her sister though and change the ending so that she is the one in the paper. The MC is suffering from depression which is maybe why you can't get a handle on her. She is not very emotionally generous and has a barrier around her, hopefully by the end that has broken down. I'll do another rewrite then ideally I'll be happy with this. Thanks again to everyone.


Mojo at 19:13 on 13 November 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie

This is one of those stories that pulls the reader in via a compulsive 'voice'. The MC's obsession with her cleaner speaks volumes about her feelings of inadequacy, which seems to highlight her guilt that she's the one who can afford to pay to have someone else clean up her mess. The MC's depression is well observed; she doesn't display any feelings towards her family, and seems detached from them to the point that they don't have names - and I like the irony that she makes up a name for the lover she imagines for her husband. I may be reading too much into this, but is her hatred for the cleaner really her reaction to the fact that she's the only person who can elicit any kind of emotional response in her? And, of course, that when Danuta reveals her name, she becomes the closest thing to a 'friend' in the MC's life? I see Danuta as the metaphorical 'cleaner' of the MC's emotional state, as it's only with her death that the MC is able to express herself.

You can see from the above that your story really made me think, which is what a good story is supposed to do. I was a little confused by the identity of the prostitute - the shoes pointed to the sister, but it was Danuta who climbed into the car, so I presumed it was Danuta who was murdered. But some of the comments threw me on this one, so now I'm not sure any more!

Most of the grammatical points have been mentioned, but I would like to add that the dialogue punctuation occasionally strays, which mucks up the pace a bit. Eg:
“Perhaps she’s gone home to see her daughter.” I say to my disappointed husband.
Should be:
“Perhaps she’s gone home to see her daughter,” I say to my disappointed husband.
“How very interesting.” He says in that sarcastic tone he reserves for me when I’ve bored him.
should be:
“How very interesting,” he says in that sarcastic tone he reserves for me when I’ve bored him.

I enjoyed this and I'll look out for the rewrite.


Jubbly at 13:12 on 15 November 2005  Report this post
Thanks for reading and commenting Julie, that's great. It is definitely Danuta who gets into the car so I'll make that clearer.



Shika at 12:17 on 17 November 2005  Report this post
Hi there, I picked this up in the archive and enjoyed reading. I have read the other comments and only wanted to add that I come from a part of the world (Africa) where this type of madam/servant relationship occurs a lot. From my experience it is always the case of the 'Madam' not really knowing what the servant is thinking that creates the paranoia - and it is always there. The other authentic observation in your piece is with the servant's life. I know of someone whose maid servant was very much like Danuta. Cooked food before she was hungry made the bed even before she had stretched out the sleep from her bones. This maid had a family and needed more money and got into drugs and prostitution and was eventually sacked. In the Western context I guess the reader would need to believe in the MC's fascination and then hatred of Danuta but what I wanted to offer you was feedback on how closely you have painted this very complex relationship. I hope this helps. S

Tony Irwin at 04:07 on 01 December 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie,

I loved it, it progressed so well. Each new development took me by surprise, and gave more insight into the craziness that lives in every human mind and the sick cold world we live in. Lots of nice themes, I particularly enjoyed the irony of the narrator getting made redundant while her cleaner is irreplacable. I've been made redundant twice before and know what it's like to sit at home and feel like you're going stir crazy. I've hung out with immigrants and seen the choices they face to get money. You really capture "truth" about what it means to be human here.



No Hero at 13:18 on 07 December 2005  Report this post

Just joined the site on a month's trail and yours was the first decent story I've read.

I see that most people have commented on spelling and punctuation, which does interrupt the flow of the piece, but I enjoyed it.

Things do end a little suddenly for my liking however with the murder of the prostitute, but as it's a short story anyway it works fine. I was half expecting you to link it back to the husband's supposed infidelities in some way, which perhaps might have been a little contrived but would certainly be grounds for extending the story.

Some more details of the wife's mundane day-to-day life at home might have been nice but I look forward to reading more of your work.


As for the comment on spelling and punctuation mistakes, I posted my comment and then read my own!

Trail - Trial

I must try harder...

Jubbly at 14:23 on 15 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks so much No Hero, Tony and Shika for your comments, they are all really helpful. This story has been sent off for a comp now so fingers crossed, results in January I think.



Corona at 16:34 on 04 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Julie,
Sorry for not having read this before now - I loved it thoroughly!
I especially enjoyed the way you weaved between thought action and real action. A great short story, evocative and actual in todays ongoings. Makes you stop and think about other people's paths in life and brings out a varied emotional response.
Well done!


Jubbly at 10:09 on 07 February 2006  Report this post
Thanks Erik, I'm glad you liked it. I just looked it up again as I was considering entering it in a comp, but realised it's already entered in another so I can't. Oh well better get off my backside and write another one.



Earl Grey at 13:02 on 23 February 2006  Report this post
At first she was faceless, just a name I kept forgetting - Deema or was it Lina? She's Polish
A couple of punctuation slips here.

1st thought - contempt/disdain for the poor. Being poor/vulnerable etc, well it's not very sexy, is it? This is the instinctive feeling/attitude I think you are trying to get across thro' your MC, and it's done well.

She’s set a standard you see and he knows I could never COMPETE.

She smiled again, that smile, the one that seemed to say, I know who you are, I know you have failed, you need me, you can't cope without me, you can't even keep your pants clean. You need me.
Nice injection of paranoia.

"Yes, " he nodded; surprised that permission was given so easily, "Maybe a scarf, or what perfume do you wear?"
Brutal - that must have been like a knife to the heart of our sloane ranger. Memo to self - NEVER ask my wife what perfume she wears.

...summer go-karting....
I'd remove the capitals + the spaces around the hyphen.

I’ve too much time on my hands now; I was always too busy to think such dreadful things, now I see darkness where there should be light.

I'd remove this entire sentence. You've shown/are skillfully showing us this - no need to then tell us.

The child was laughing and my cleaner looked almost human to me.
Lovely detail. I'm really hating this middle-class bitch. Well done Julie, for making me hate her.

When I was a young I thought it brave to get my ears pierced - these days girls have a much broader selection of displayed body parts to perforate should they desire.

She looks me straight in the eye and that slow SMILE creeps over her lips.

thought...she's starting to lose the plot a bit - her thoughts are getting more bilious, she's snapping more. Clearly she's using her cleaner as a way of venting her spleen re. her failures/upsets within her own life. I'm getting a strong sense of her unravelling. Once again, this is simply brillinatly done.

Then I hear them, pit patting through my spotless home, those Eastern European, cheap, unstylish slippers that she wears on her feet like a second skin.
Oh very nice. You read 'The Telltale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe?

ok, finished reading now...
Hang on - Danuta didn't die at the end, it was her sister, right?

This is a brilliant story Julie, one within which so many lines packed a terrific punch. And the 'observations' from the MC's perspective was spot on, so true. (Loved the bit where when the cleaner smiles on picking up her phone, leaving the MC to note that she only smiles like that when she's drunk). This is fiction of the very highest calibre. Have you approached anyone with a view to getting it published?

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