The Housekeeper

I’ve buried a lot of my laundry in the back yard.

Phyllis Diller

Slowly we switched places, she became more me, I more her. At first we traded articles of clothing, then jewelry:  her ring for mine, my watch for hers, then it was barrettes and hair pins.  Somehow, in the heat of the day I began to see her as me and whether she saw me as herself, I have no idea as the questions I asked, while answered by her, fell silently around me, accumulating like leaves or snow or volcanic ash.  I picked up her – now my – purse and looked inside, reassured by photos of husband and children.  I put the money she gave me in a pocket in the purse, tucked beside the paper tissues and chewing gum.  She asked if I would come back the following week; I said “no”, that I needed some time with my family.  I took a few steps, stopped and turned:  there, in the doorway, she looked alone in her disappointment.

Zoe Keating



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