Tanya bent down to scrub the ceramic floor tile. She had already taken care of the toilet – using the soft cloth so as not to scratch the surface, taking time to clean even the appearance of stains. Every stain…
She shuddered, pushing the thought out of her mind.
“How long you going to be cleaning?”
She jumped, startled at her Auntie Angela, who had barged into the bathroom. Her aunt always barged in – making sure that she wasn’t up to “trouble” or doing anything “wrong.”
“I’m trying to clean as quickly as possible” She replied. Her aunt stared at her, pursing her lips.
“I don’t like it when you use that tone with me young lady!”
“What tone are you talking about? I’m not giving you any tone, I’m just…”
“Look, just hush your mouth see! “ Her aunt said before whipping back out of the bathroom.
Far from being upset, Tanya was actually pleasantly surprised. Her aunt had left without bothering to hit her. It seemed that the beatings were becoming less frequent. Tanya wasn’t sure if this was because her aunt began to appreciate that she was far too old to beat, or if her arms had simply grown weary. Tanya continued to clean the tiles, making sure to pay particular attention to the presence of any coloured stains. She suddenly saw one single solitary red speck, at the back of the toilet.
How the hell did it get there? She wondered to herself. Then she thought about the splatter of…
No. She couldn’t think about it, mustn’t think about it.
Finally, she finished. The bathroom was spotless. She moved to her bedroom, exhausted. No sooner had she lain down than she heard the front door opening.
“Lord, thank you for letting me return home safely,” said the deep voice that entered the house. Then the thud as the heavy Bible was softly dropped onto the table. Tanya knew it well – her aunt had used it on her a time or two.
The radio turned on. Christian Broadcasting Radio. “We are but strangers here” came the voices through the radio, singing in happy unison. Apt in my situation, she thought. A strange girl in a strange land. Strange people. And a strange, dull pain…
No. She couldn’t think about it. Mustn’t think about it…
She tuned her ears outside for a few seconds listening intently. Her aunt and uncle seemed to be in rapt discussion. She took out the mp3 player Javonte had lent her, and then pulled the sheets over her head in case her aunt came in. It was a good thing too, because no sooner had she pressed play when she heard the quick footsteps of her aunt. She hurriedly shoved the mp3 player in her pocket before the door opened.
“Lunch is ready… What you doing under the sheet?”
“Nothing” she mumbled in reply, getting up and making her way to the table.
“You finish cleaning the bathroom?” asked her uncle. For a second, it seemed that a flicker of worry passed across his face.
That flicker disappeared. He raised his fork to his mouth, before the meat dropped onto the floor, landing with a splat as the gravy made a colorful pattern on the ceramic tiles.
“Excuse me” Tanya said, abruptly getting up and rushing to the bathroom. She aimed for the sink, but then her knees buckled, sending her to the ground. All she could see were those damned blue ceramic tiles, before the memories came rushing back and she wretched violently all over the floor.
BIO: Daryl George was a 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge Honourable Mention. In 2013, he is winner and second placed writer in the 18 to 35 age category and second placed overall for Ceramic Blues and Julie Drops. Born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda, the Youth Department employee has always had a passion for literature. He attended the Antigua Grammar School, the Antigua State College and the University of the West Indies, graduating with a degree in Psychology; and recently completed a course at Bangor University in Consumer Psychology with Business.