There she stood. Her wiry, unwashed hair was strewn on top of her head in a messy bun. Her tired sunken eyes were bordered with deep purple rings. Her clothes loosely hugged her figure and were covered with the worst colors of the rainbow. She sighed a deep breath and allowed me inside the home.
I glanced around and realized I had just entered an alternate universe. The floor was covered with strange objects; some squealed, others moved, and most laid tipped on their sides. The house was nicely decorated, as long as you looked past the smudges, dirt, and unidentified marks. I held my wrist to my face to see the time ticking away on my watch. I needed to get out of here fast.
“Ma’am, where is the faucet?” I looked back at her over my shoulder. The woman’s blank stare caught me off guard. “Ma’am?”
“Oh...” She came back down to reality. “Yes, the faucet. It is over here. Follow me.” She stepped over each object as if they did not exist. I, on the other hand, struggled to find ground. She led me into the kitchen. Pots and pans filled the countertops. Crumbs littered the floor. The putrid stench from the surrounding garbage filled my lungs. I thought I was going to vomit. It was terrible.
The woman pulled several dishes out of the sink. One dish happily splashed its contents out onto the floor while she transferred them to the overcrowded table. I tried to keep a poker face, but inside, I was disgusted. How could someone live like this? My Mama always told me not to pass any judgments, but I could not help it. This woman is a slob.
She motioned towards the sink without looking at me. Did she feel shame? I hoped she did. I stepped next to the counter and turned the handle. Water sprayed everywhere. I turned it off, opened the cabinet doors underneath, and carefully searched for a spot to kneel down on. I pushed some crumbs aside and felt my pocket for my flashlight. I quickly pulled it out and turned it on. A spider greeted me on his intricate web. His home blocked my assignment. I pushed it out of my way and reached for the shut-off valve. The spider was not happy. He rushed to a dark corner and hid.
I yanked the wrench out of my toolbox and proceeded to remove the pipe. Old stale water dripped out. I flashed the light on the opening and saw the problem. I used my tools to pull it out. Stringy hair, paper, and other objects made up the ball of contents. I held them in my hands and stood up. I faced the woman and showed her what I had found.
“Well, Ma’am, here is what was clogging your pipes.” She closely examined the gross pile. She grabbed it and pulled a shiny object from the middle. She held it in for a moment before she burst into tears. I had no clue what was going on or how to handle this situation. All I knew was that I wanted to hurry up and leave this dump behind. Suddenly, the lady with the crazy hair collapsed.
I scooped her up into my arms and carefully carried her through the messy maze to lay her down on the couch. I stroked her face and called out her name. Her eyes fluttered before slowly opening. Confusion filled her face. “What happened?” she asked.
“Ma’am, you passed out,” I stated. “Are you okay?” The woman turned away. She used her hand to push me backwards. She muttered some words which I could not understand. I rose to my feet. “If you are okay, then I am going to finish my job. But, if you’d like, I could come back later.”
“No, I am fine. Go ahead and finish unclogging the drain,” she said without looking at me. I turned and walked back over to the sink. I found my safe landing spot and continued my job. Soon, I was able to put the pipe back together and turn the water on. I stood up and tested the faucet one more time. The clog was gone and I was ready to grab my things and run out of the stinky, garbage house. That was until I turned and noticed the woman.
She clenched the shiny object in her hands. Tears streamed down her face. She struggled to catch her breath. I sighed and placed my toolbox back down on the floor. I took several steps and joined her on the couch. I placed my arm around her. She quickly slumped into my arms and wept. “Why?” she muttered. “Why do you keep tormenting me?” I was confused. Why does she think I am tormenting her? I released her and stood back up. I could not feel sympathetic for this woman. I decided to leave and never come back.
The object slipped out of the woman’s hand. I watched it fall to the floor. It was a golden pin that had the word “Dad” on it and a shocking engraving. It was my name. I looked back at the woman. She gazed into my eyes. I recognized the beautiful starburst design. It looked exactly like my baby girl’s eyes. She is an adorable five year old with an infectious smile and bright personality. Why does this woman have the same eyes? And why does she have a pin with my name on it?
“Daddy,” she said, “I miss you, but I cannot heal if you keep visiting me every night in my dreams.” I refused to listen to her. I am not her father, and she is definitely not my daughter. My blood started to boil. “It is all my fault. If I never asked you to come over…. well, then… ugh…you know…” She started to cry again. “I am so sorry, Daddy,” she whispered.
The anger filled my body. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. “I do not know who you are, or why you have a pin with my name on it, but I have to go. See you later.” I pushed through the door leaving the crazy lady behind. I was glad to be out of that situation.
The next day, I returned to my job. I pulled up in front of a small brick house. I walked up the porch and knocked on the door. There she stood. Her wiry, unwashed hair was strewn on top of her head in a messy bun. Her tired sunken eyes were bordered with deep purple rings. Her clothes loosely hugged her figure and were covered with the worst colors of the rainbow. She sighed a deep breath and allowed me inside the home.