Marion cradled the glass in her hand as yet another guest bounced in front of her exclaiming how they had no idea how she managed it all.
'You have two children, a career and look at your house, it's immaculate! How do you do it?'
'I don't–‘ Marion started in a dry undertone, but the bright eyed red head in front of her wasn’t listening, and had already turn away to gush at someone else.
Marion glanced out the corner of her eye and there he was, her cleaning fairy, sitting in a huff in the corner of the room. He’d done nothing but barrage her with complaints from the moment she walked in the door this afternoon – No one had bothered to mention to her that cleaning fairies stood behind the door when God was handing out grace.
Somehow she had to pass him on to someone else, but this was not easily done because she couldn’t tell anyone about him. Someone else had to wish for him in his presence at the stroke of 1.23 a.m. Marion’s mission for the evening was to make that happen.
Marion had always loved throwing dinner parties – she loved mingling and chatting with people. She preferred to be the hostess, to be the one plotting the course of the evening, but didn’t mind being a guest once in a while and letting someone else run around behind the scene making sure everyone had someone to talk to and a glass of something refreshing in their hand.
It had been on one such evening, six months earlier, that Marion had attended a work dinner with her husband at the house of one of his colleagues. Marion had been amazed at the detailed work the hostess had done to ensure a marvellous evening. Nosey as she could be at times, Marion had found herself casually opening the bathroom cabinet to find out what really went on in this perfect house behind closed doors and had been surprised to find the cabinet as neat as a pin.
She opened a drawer and found all the wife’s makeup laid out as if in a glass cabinet in David Jones. There wasn’t a grain of dust in sight, not a single smear of hand cream, or even a sprinkling of blush powder. In that moment Marion knew she had to find out who Chloe’s cleaner was.
Downstairs, Marion sidled up to Chloe, ‘Darling, you’ve done a marvellous job preparing for tonight, you’d better watch out, you don’t want to go putting the boss’ wife to shame!’
‘Why thank you – I think.’ Chloe had raised a thin dark brow but smiled to reassure Marion that she wasn’t offended.
‘You have a new cleaner?’
‘I don’t know what you mean.’ Chloe had whispered.
‘Oh come on, don’t be coy, you couldn’t have done all of this by yourself, not with your brood and all your charitable commitments.’ Marion felt the flush of impatience rise up her neck; she needed details, a name, and a contact number.
‘Stacy is still working for me, Marion.’
‘Tosh! We both know Stacy is as lazy as Uncle Fred after Christmas dinner. Are you trying to tell me you have a cleaning fairy?’ Marion had scoffed at the idea even as she had said it.
‘I didn’t say that,’ Chloe said, smiling, her eyes suddenly and inexplicably bright.
‘Well, I wish–‘ Marion had started, but before she could finish her thought, Chloe had grabbed her by the hand and started pulling her across the room. ‘Hey! Chloe, what the hell are you doing?’
At the opposite corner of the room Chloe had put her hands to her lips, and then whispered furtively, ‘Hang on a minute...’
Marion had watched her scan the room, then once again Chloe grabbed her hand and this time led her to the kitchen.
‘Chloe, are you mad?’
‘Shhh, just hang on a minute.’ Chloe had clamped her eyes on the kitchen clock; it was twenty past one in the morning.
‘Chloe, I’ve got to go find Adrian, the sitter is expecting us home by 2 a.m.’
‘No, just a minute, this is important, you’ll be so surprised!’
Marion remembered thinking Chloe should probably lay off the vino a bit in future. Then Chloe giggled, and Marion’s focus was back on the tiny woman clasping both of Marion’s hands as if her life depended on it.
‘Okay, say it now!’
‘Say what now?’
‘Say what you were going to say out in the dining room a couple of minutes ago.’
‘Oh, I can’t remember what I was going to say, I can’t even remember what we were talking about – what’s going on, Chloe?’
‘We were talking about how clean my house is, and you said you wish...’ Chloe’s large blue eyes danced like Chinese lanterns on a breeze.
‘Uh, I wish I had a cleaning fairy?’’
Chloe looked into a far corner of her kitchen then back at Marion. ‘No, no! That won’t do, you have to say it like you mean it!’
‘Why, what is this about?’ Marion had tried to pull her hands from Chloe’s but Chloe had locked her grip even tighter in response.
‘Just say it like you mean it!’ Chloe implored.
‘Okay, okay, I wish I had a cleaning fairy!’ And deep down Marion did wish she had a cleaning fairy to make her house immaculate and her life easier.
‘Yes, it worked! I can’t see him anymore!’ Chloe had let go of Marion’s hands and was hopping about like a school girl.
‘Who can’t you see, Chloe? Really, I think you need some coffee, dear.’
‘Him!’ Chloe had pointed to the corner of her kitchen, and suddenly Marion had notice a sullen creature sitting there glaring at her.
‘Well, I hope you’re cleaner than she is!’ It had declared before stalking off to the dining room.
‘Wha–, what was that?’ Marion had said as she felt a trickle of cold shock run down her spine.
‘Your cleaning fairy! Enjoy!’ Chloe had called back as she skipped out of the room with a giggle trailing behind her.
The creature had followed Marion home and the next morning her house was immaculate. It was always immaculate, even when the children had sleepovers with their friend - involving popcorn battles.
The fairy was not what she had imagined though. He was surly and cranky and abusive. He constantly sniped at her for the state of her bathroom and kitchen. If she discarded a cup beside her computer or left her slippers on the ensuite floor, he would be in a foul mood for days and keep her away at night as he bashed pots and pans and slammed doors (and no one else ever seemed to hear him!). He was a right, royal pain in the rear.
Marion had begged Chloe to take him back, but Chloe had explained the only way to get rid of him was if someone else wished for him at 1.23 a.m.
Marion glanced over at the clock in the hallway – 1.14 a.m.
Charlotte caught Marion’s eye, ‘I’ve been meaning to compliment you on your house all night, Marion, it’s amazing, how do you do it?’ Marion smiled a little smile to herself as she led Charlotte to the far corner of the room where that pesky fairy sat scowling, all the time keeping the clock in clear view.
‘I can’t explain it, it just gets done, Charlotte, like magic!’
2001 © Sif Dal
2001 © Sif Dal