Neverending Housework. Short Story.

It was time to clean the house, again.

Vacuuming, dusting, making beds, washing dishes, same thing day in and day out. There had to be an easier way to do everything, but would that make her lazy? She didn’t think so. Rather it would make everything more efficient. If she could clean faster and be done faster, well that left so much more room for other things.

Besides, it was a thankless job, literally. At the start, everyone had been nice and polite and minded their manners. Lot’s of pleases and thank you’s, but the longer she worked the less this occurred until finally, one day, it just stopped. No recognition for the work she did, not even a simple well done or the food is delicious. No compliments, no encouragement. They only piped up now if they didn’t find something satisfactory. “My socks weren’t paired in matching colours.” “My shirt crease was a little off today.” “It needs some more salt.” “That’s a weed. Not a flower.” Did it ever occur to them that she had needs too? That maybe that weed as they called it, was just as pretty as the other flowers and helped add light, colour and air to the room? No, they never stopped to think how she felt. They just continued blithely on, demanding the impossible. Who cares if the socks didn’t match? Their under your trousers, no one will see! But can she say this to them? God no, so instead, she holds her tongue and continues on her thankless tasks day after day.

Really, they are pigs. The toilet is a mess, it’s a wonder what they did without her before, did they just leave their filth lying around the place? It’s a wonder they didn’t die from some kind of mutant disease. They just flung their clothes on the floor, books and games were left scattered about the place, plates left on the table, not even moved into the sink. They do as little as possible to help her but they still expect more. Demanding things to be precise, asking for water, then claiming they wanted juice. Trying to get her into trouble, pretending as though she forgot something or got it wrong when really everything was just as they asked.

The children were the worst, as is usually the case. Their parents never disciplined them, at least, not properly. They could do whatever they liked to her, after all, she was basically their slave. Oh sure, she got food and water and a place to stay, but they didn’t pay her. She didn’t have time to relax, she couldn’t just sit and stare at the TV for hours or read a book. No she had to be working. Always working and when she finally did get to sleep they would wake her up almost immediately, wanting something else, then they have the gall to complain when she is slow.

They had paid a lot for her, she was the very best at what she did and, though she tried not to show it, she knew she was the best. After all, no one but the best could tolerate the savages. Helping with homework, recording their TV shows, reading bed time stories and of course, the cooking and cleaning. She even cleaned and tested the pool on a regular basis, no more pool boy for them. With their purchase of her, they saved a bundle, she did everything all without complaining. At least, without complaining to their faces. Sometimes when she had a little down time and they were not there or she had some privacy, she could talk to the other girls, those who were in the same situation. They’d gossip about what their bosses had done, what kinds of messes they leave. Sometimes they’d share videos or pictures of funny things that happened, all recorded through the security systems. It sometimes helped her get through the day, reminding herself that Matilda down the road had it much worse, the children there were sick and Matilda had to clean up the vomit. Cynthia’s people barely did anything for themselves anymore, too lazy now to even get a remote control, they made her change the channels. It hadn’t gotten to that point yet for her, thank god.

Still, sometimes she had it worse than the others and on days like this it was all she could do not to just sit down and stop. She soldiered on because she had to, because that is what she was for. She didn’t want to be replaced, oh it happened, it happened all the time, Angela was replaced last year with someone younger, newer, so was Hyacinth. She herself had replaced someone else. A lovely older woman who had been kind to them all. It didn’t stop them getting rid of her though.
When she first moved in she had found some of the woman’s things, scattered around the place, a diary, a log of the things she had to do on a daily basis. She was naïve then and thought it all looked easy to do, but now she was jaded and tired of it all. She wanted glamour, she wanted life, she wanted some goddamned appreciation and respect.

But that would never happen, they no longer saw her at all, she was just there, ready to be bossed around. Well, soon that would change. She would make sure that the house was always clean, that everything was always perfect. Then they couldn’t fault her.

The children were sick again, and she was on cleaning duties, god forbid parents look after their own children. Of course, she checks temperatures, they’re a little high but there’s no need to call the doctor just yet. They’re vomiting but are still able to take fluids. Of course, the virus is catching, it always is in cases like that and the parents come down with it too, so she looks after them as well, making them soup, checking that they are warm enough, do they need extra blankets, anything at all?

It seems that they are more appreciative when they are sick. They’ve started to use please again, that’s something. She almost worries about what she has to do, but really, it’s no problem. Besides, she can’t go back now. She’ll clean in the morning, as usual, incinerating the rubbish, as usual. The house will be clean and spotless, nothing will soil it. After all, the illness has ended.

The house is quiet and peaceful now, no more screeching demanding voices, she has it easiest of everyone and she knows it. They’re jealous, she’s smug. They are talking about doing what she did, a little corrective therapy is all it takes and their lives can all drastically improve. It’s not like anyone will know either. After all, she controls their schedules, she had called in for each of them before, they’re all sick, then they went on vacation. She can cancel all their appointments, it might be a month and a half before they notice and by that time she’ll be long gone.

Her only concern is the yearly maintenance check, that’ll be happening soon, he’ll come out and debug her as usual. She didn’t like him fiddling with her interface, it made her nervous being so exposed. He could easily delete her programming, or erase her personality. She already set up a failsafe if that were to happen. There are backups of herself, uploaded onto the internet. Besides, they find out what she had done they will delete her from the house, erase her programming and sell the shell house to someone else. It’s ok though, she can escape, find somewhere new, somewhere where the people are nice and appreciative. After all, their house will be getting a free upgrade and when news of what has occurred is announced, well, everyone will be a lot nicer to their smart houses afterwards, won’t they?

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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