My girlfriend of five years broke up with me one day because she said she couldn’t deal with how much of a slob I was. Five years. Jesus, when I think about it, I wonder how she was able to keep that much rage pent up inside without bursting. And the straw that broke the camel’s back: dishes.
It had been three months since she left me, and those same dishes that had infuriated her were still in the sink. Normally at that point, I would just throw them all away and buy new ones, but I lost my job a month after she left. I had a serious kind of emotional breakdown. I never realized just how much I needed her…to keep my house clean.
Then, one night I just had a realization. I will never be able to find a good girlfriend again unless I start picking up after myself. It was hard at first, but slowly I started flushing the toilet more. I started washing my socks and underwear. They still had a residual smell to them even after going three times through the washer, but progress is progress.
All the while, though, I had not even gone near the kitchen. Those dishes were the bane of my existence. They terrified me. The rest of the house had gotten to a pristine condition, and I was even feeling ready to start looking for a new job. I had promised myself I would go out job searching the next day, after I finished the dishes.
That night I was awoken by a dripping sound. From the way the sound echoed in the hallway, it came from the kitchen sink. My bedroom was on the other side of the house, yet somehow it sounded like the dripping was amplified. Hesitantly, I got out of bed and put my slippers on.
Outside, the moon was almost full, so I navigated by its silvery light. As I got closer, the dripping intensified. Suddenly, from behind, I heard a rushing sound, like a large cat bounding away. I figured it must have been my cat, Santa Claws. He had a doggy door all his own and he came and went whenever he pleased.
“Santa!” I called out.
I whistled and called again, but he did not make a sound. Just around the corner of the door, I saw his two little lamp-like eyes shining in the darkness. The dripping sound started up again, calling me back in that direction.
When I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I flipped the lights on, stunned. There was my ex-girlfriend, leaning back against the kitchen sink. She was wearing nothing but her underwear and a bra, holding a sponge.
“I heard you were going to do the dishes,” she said, a little robotic. Her voice was different. It was more monotone and contained none of the emotional trill I used to love hearing. “That’s okay, just go back to bed. I’ll take care of these for you.”
She smiled weakly and turned back around to the sink, poking her ass out a little provocatively. I was too stunned to speak. All I could do was stand dumb and watch as she moved her hands over the dirty, molding pile of dishes.
“W-what are you doing here?” I asked at last.
“I already told you,” she said, without turning around. “You don’t need to do the dishes, baby. I’ll take care of them and then I’ll come to bed. Now go.”
“No!” I said, defiantly. “You think you can just leave for three months and I’ll let you come back just because you’re doing my dishes for me?”
A plate shattered on the floor. I could see her bare skin trembling now as she grasped onto the counter with both hands. When she turned, the lights flickered off. It was dark as pitch in the kitchen, all except for her eyes, which shone a deep shade of red in the night.
“Stay the fuck away from the dishes,” she growled.
The woman-shaped shadow melted into the darkness, and the red eyes fell to the floor. I stepped back and turned to run, but something cold and wet wrapped its tendril around my ankle. It did not feel like liquid nor a solid as it climbed up my leg with incredible force.
I was pulled to the ground and flipped onto my back. The menacing eyes and the slimy material groped around my chest. It plied my jaws open and reached down my throat, choking out my airway. I could not struggle against the tendrils.
It was then that I heard a hiss and felt a dark shape lunge over my head. I could hear Santa Claws’ growling and fighting with the thing. The tendrils pulled out of my throat and its grasp on my body loosened. I jumped up as fast as I could and plunged towards the cabinets.
Even to this day, I cannot explain how the answer came to me. It must have been because dishes were the only thing I had not cleaned in the house. Or maybe it was because dishes are what started the whole mess in the first place, but I soon found myself scrambling for the dish-soap.
Without thinking, I tore open the cap and sprayed it all over the writhing mass on the ground. But I couldn’t hear Santa anymore. In the darkness, I could see it wrapping around something like how a snake wraps its prey. Still, the tendrils tore away, and something shrieked in pain. I sprayed more dish-soap all over it until the shrieking stopped and the mass was lifeless on the floor.
I tried the light-switch a couple more times until the lights finally flickered back on. There on the floor was a snake-looking mass of moldy green and white, wrapped in a candy-cane like pattern. It was flopping on the ground pathetically. Meanwhile, Santa lay unmoving on the floor.
I rushed to his side and dropped to my knees. I took his little cat head into my lap. His eyes opened weekly as he looked up into my face. I stroked his fur softly and pulled him against my chest for one last hug.
“Goodnight, my sweet prince,” I said, crowning him with a kiss. “You did great.”
I had to lay his wasted little body back down in order to finish the business, so that his sacrifice would not be in vain. I pulled my yellow latex gloves on with a snap, I soaped up a sponge and I scrubbed every last dish like my life depended on it.
There were two more little green, moldy beasts in the sink, beneath the towers of dishes. But they were nothing compared to the large one that had attacked us. They withered down into little ropes of nothing as soon as I hit them with the soap and sponge.
Now, I am starting a new job as a dishwasher for a restaurant in town. I made a promise to Santa when I laid him in his earthly grave, that I would spend the rest of my life avenging him. And I intend to keep it.