“Now don’t open the door for anybody,” Mama turned in the doorway, her winter coat on and a bucket of cleaning supplies tucked under her arm. “Liza’ll be here soon as she gets in from work. Just sit tight ‘til then, OK, sugar?”
“’K, I love you honey, see you tomorrow.” Sliding her bucket out of the way, Mama leaned forward, giving me a big kiss and leaving the smell of perfume and pine cleaner behind.
The door clicked shut and I turned on the TV. Afternoon cartoons’d play ‘til dinner, then the news came on. I hated the news. Liza liked to watch it, said it was good to know what was happening.
I didn’t care.
Superman was about to save the world just in the nick of time when I heard it. Somebody calling my name. I looked around the apartment. Nothing but a worn out sofa and the dinner table beside me.
Rubbing my ears, I figured I must be hearing things, and turned back to the TV. Then I heard it again, voice as soft as a bubble, calling me.
I looked around the empty apartment. “Where are you?”
Right here. The voice was soft and kinda whispery-like. Sent shivers down my spine. Over here, boy.
“Where?” I stood up, turning around; the door was still locked, deadbolt on. “Where are you?”
In the kitchen.
“What?” I went into the kitchen, and looked. Nobody there, just the fridge and stove. I rubbed my head. “Where are you?
This is getting crazy. Whipping around, I stared up at the ceiling. “Who are you?”
I’m the soap man.
I make all kinds of things, child, but I specialize in soap.
“Uh, what’re you doing here?” I was now talking to the ceiling. This’s getting pretty weird.
Just some cleaning up. The voice paused. How about you clear up those dishes for your mama. You’re big enough to do that, now.
“Yeah, I guess.” I stared at the sink guilty. Ma was running late and left a sink full of dishes behind; her empty teacup still sitting on the countertop.
Turning on the taps, I squirted in some dish soap, it seemed to be a lot came out; bubbles floated into the air, and popped, spattering rainbows on the tile floor.
Elbow deep in soapy water, I heard a song floating by. Soap, soap, wonderful soap, gives us all more than you’d ever hope.
I shook my head. Must be some kinda commercial or something.
Water dripped onto the floor as I stacked the dishes in the drainer. The voice continued, make sure you rinse those dishes really good, don’t want any suds left behind.
I nodded, dripping water onto the floor.
You dry those dishes now, put ‘em away. That voice was getting pretty bossy.
“But I –”
Do a good job for your mother now, won’t you, child?
Reaching out to grab a dishtowel, I turned toward the stove; the towel was hanging from the handle.
My foot spun, and I lurched forward, waving my hands in midair trying to catch myself. Somehow I twisted again and lost it. Sudden sickly feeling as I slipped, flash of white as my head struck the edge of the stove.
It was much later when Liza unlocked the door to the apartment. “Hey, sugar, I’m here. Sorry I’m late.” Taking off her coat, she hung it in the closet and looked around. “Where you at now, hon?”
Following the sound of running water, she walked into the kitchen and screamed; cascade of soap bubbles kept pouring out of the sink, whiteness turning pink as it pooled in blood spattered across the kitchen floor.
A voice floated by, soft as a soap bubble. Hello Liza, looks like you got some cleaning to do.
Liz McAdams is a short, sharp, writer and fond of dark things. Her work appears in the usual places, including Spelk, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, scattered around Twisted Sister and will be up soon on Shotgun Honey. Check Liz out at https://lizmcadams.wordpress.com/