Author Nabila R

Number thirty-six Mill Lane was an exceptionally average house. It had an average drive onto which the last autumn leaf of the tree in front of it fell. As if it were the most normal thing in the world, the old lady who inhabited number thirty-six walked out in her slippers and apron picked up the leaf with her bright yellow gloves and walked back into her house with it. She took it straight to the kitchen, put it in an airtight plastic bag and added a little bleach to it, ‘just to be sure’ . She put the plastic bag into the highly polished stainless steel bin, which unsurprisingly was full of other ‘rubbish’. The crumbs from her toast that morning, a button and a few nuts and bolts. She didn’t know what they were for or where they came from therefore they were unimportant and a mess. After giving the bin lid another wipe she went on to clean the inside of the washing machine. I think you understand what I’m trying to get across here; the woman was only mildly obsessed. It wasn’t so much that she couldn’t bear to make a mess; it was when it was left there. That’s when the real problems start to happen. She shuddered as she pulled out a ball of fluff from the machine, another plastic bag for that.   

It had developed over time, this little problem of hers. She used to work in a hospital, as a cleaner shockingly enough. She’d had to quit though, when her husband got ill, it was a dreadful time for her. For a year of her life she had to watch the love of her life’s flesh rot away from his body. What was worse for her were the thoughts going through her head. Dirty. Disgusting. Filth. She was supposed to be caring for this man, and she did, but it was just so hard. Too hard.

She glanced up at the clock, gave it a wipe and shut the washing machine door. She had time to clean the vacuum before she gave the front room a once over. Maybe a twice over. She had a visitor coming that day; she hadn’t really spoken to anyone since the death so this was going to be a little awkward for her. She had been left alone to stew in her own misery. Left alone with her thoughts and memories, which as you can probably tell, did not do her much good.

She didn’t know why she’d agreed to see this person, she didn’t really like the idea of having to welcome this stranger into her home and talk to them. In fact, she hated the idea of an outsider coming into her house. Her house. Her ‘lovely clean house’ . Who knew what kind of nasty things they would be bringing? The old lady looked over at the plastic covered sofa and sighed as she thought about how many times she’d have to bleach it after this person left. She really regretted it now, ‘he wants to poke around’ she thought, ‘that, or he wants money. Or he knows. Or all three.’

She jumped when she heard the bell ring at number thirty-six that day. She had forgotten what it sounded like. She took a deep breath before opening the door. She was shaking. The man she opened the door for had a stony face but that was not what she was focussing on. His shoes were covered in mud, he had a large dark stain on his tie and there was white smudge on his lapel. He was disgusting.

“Mrs Winters?”

She opened the door wide enough for him to come in and winced when he didn’t take off his shoes, or even wipe them on the mat for that matter.

“Well, Mrs Winters, I think its safe to say I’ve never been in a house this clean before.” He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. He looked uncomfortable, the plastic covers rubbed together when he fidgeted on the sofa. ‘He knows’.

 “I don’t think we’ve formally met yet, my name is DCI Robins and I was, erm, contacted by the hospital after your husband’s death.” But the old woman didn’t look like she was listening. She was glaring at his jacket. ‘Dirty’.

 “I’ll just go and get you some tea” she smiled at him; their expressions mirrored each other.

As soon as she got into the kitchen she closed the door and gasped for air. She could feel her blood rushing through her; it seemed to be staying in her head. ‘He knows’. There was only one thing to do. She made the tea and put it on a tray. Then she went to the cupboard where she used to keep the mounds of medication for her husband. She took out a syringe and a sterile hypodermic needle, put the syringe in a bowl and poured over the rest of the water from the kettle. ‘Clean’. She put on her lemon fresh yellow gloves, took the syringe from the bowl and replaced the boiling water with the clear blue liquid she was all too familiar with. Then she carefully attached the needle to the syringe and drew up the bleach until it was full. Placing the plastic safety cap back on the needle tip and putting it up her sleeve, she picked up the tray and returned to the room where the detective was waiting. Now her smile reached her eyes.

“Mrs Winters, there were anomalies in your husband’s blood.” She looked up at him her face expressionless. He put his tea down and leant forward.

“He didn’t die from natural causes.” He searched her face for any hint of a reaction. He’d been sitting in this woman’s house for 15 minutes and she’d only said one sentence to him.

“Mrs Winters, I think you know what I’m talking about don’t you?” Nothing. He was getting impatient.

“They found bleach in your husband’s blood!”

She grinned. Then she laughed. Hysterically. The syringe dropped. The detective stood up suddenly, knocking his tea to the floor.

“Dirty!” She shrieked as she launched at him, her face contorted with anger.

The old lady from number thirty-six is happy now; she doesn’t live there anymore. She has a room so white it could blind you, and a straight jacket to match.

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