empty rooms and full minds

Miranda’s hands scrubbed all over the afternoon’s dishes with a wet washcloth, hurrying to clean and dry the flowered bowls and utensils faster than Anders could unbox them from their styrofoam prisons and slip them into the sink. A few bowls and spoons were already in the cupboards and had been sitting there for a few hours, being that Anders had placed the Lab under Giles’ care while he and Miranda took the bed mattress, the box of dishes, and the bedsheets and brought them to the new house.

“You can slow down anytime now,” Miranda suggested, eyeing Anders as he slid another dusty and faded bowl into the sink.”Aren’t those supposed to be vintage? Maybe you’d want to treat them a tad gentler.”

“It’s imitation porcelain, love. Plastic isn’t going to shatter anytime soon.” To prove his haughty point, Anders tossed a plate at Miranda, who deflected it with the wet washcloth and sent it spiraling to the floor. It rolled away a few feet before coming to a rest, where Anders picked it back up again and tossed it into the suds.

“Still, it would be a lot less unsettling if you treated them like they were fragile.” He’d gotten a few strands of soap stuck to the cotton of his sky blue shift, and the bowl joining its brothers in the dusty catastrophe of the sink added a few more to his disgust.

Anders took a few steps back, his feet up against the boundary between the tiled kitchen and the carpeted living room. “Is there something wrong, Miranda?”

“There’s been one thing that’s been nagging me all day.” He wiped a plate he’d set on the counter to dry and shelved it in the cupboard. “I don’t remember all the details exactly, but there was someone you were supposed to take somewhere a few days ago. Sorry for being so vague, but I can’t possibly tell why it bothers me so much.”

Anders gulped before replying, “She’s safe, love. Her parents were a bit surprised when she turned up on their doorstep without a warning, though.”

“Who was she, Anders?” Miranda threw a cursory glance at Anders’ feet before wiping another dingy-white plate down and shelving it on top of the previous blue one.

“Nobody you know. She was an unimportant spoiled teenager who needed to be returned to reality. Don’t worry about the matter.” He retreated to the master bedroom in haste on the left side of the hallway that they’d selected on the same floor yesterday evening. He’d put up a red sheet over the window a few hours earlier, casting a faint shadow on the walls left untouched since the original owner had hastily painted the whole room gray. Picking up the stack of nicely folded sheets at the foot of the bed, he called out behind him, “When you’re done, can you please help me set up this room? There are boxes everywhere.”

“I can only do one thing at once, Anders! And there’s no point setting up the bed now since we won’t be sleeping here tonight, unless you purposefully want to mess it up and then have to readjust everything in that room!” A clang of dishes followed the retort, and Anders shook all the sheets out just in case Miranda came around. Truly the domestic life… Are houses supposed to feel this empty?

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