The house was long overdue for a spring cleaning, thought Brynne, as she surveyed the book nook in her living room. The bookshelves were all dusty, novels were mingling with self-help guides, and then there was the occasional upside down book to deal with as well. Goodness, it must be disgraceful underneath the bookshelf, then, she thought. She bent down swiftly and swept her pointer finger into the darkness. When she pulled it out she frowned at the white dust clinging to the swirls of the fingerprint. Then she wiped it on her pink skirt-apron (her favorite apron, the one with the Hawaiian print flowers on it, which she picked up on her vacation there with Marshall two years ago at the swap meet in Honolulu – she had to dig through several vendors’ stands to find the perfect one, and it was indeed perfect, and reminded her of vacationing in the sun on the beach each time she carefully tied it on, even though she wore it for such mundane events as baking cookies or cleaning her kitchen sink), made an annotation on the notebook she stored in her apron pocket to be sure to clean under the bookshelves, and turned to survey the home entertainment center.
The television of course needed to be wiped off; when the nieces came to visit the screen would get smudged as always, but it would be nice to start from clean at some point! The movie cases were neatly ordered. She walked over to the television cabinet and wiped her finger across its surface: another dusting necessary. She sighed at the entanglement of cords not so hidden behind a cherry-stained cabinet door; she wouldn’t be able to do anything about it even if she wanted to, since that was Marshall’s area and she would no more dream of messing it up anymore than he would try to touch her knitting area.
She slowly walked over to her softly cushioned rocking chair, with its adjacent magazine rack type shelf and built in lamp, and looked at all the projects in processing sitting there. There was a pair of socks, on a circular needle and cabled with ghosts; the ghosts were peeping up about ankle height, but she still had at least four more ghosties to go before Halloween. Luckily the deadline was still a few months out, but she really enjoyed that project, with the soft, thin yarn, variegated between orange and black and purple (which she had thought would look hideous but really looked absolutely lovely as a pair of Halloween themed socks for her precocious niece, Juliet, and possibly the skeins would have enough left-over to make a pair for her niece’s younger sister, the baby of the family Stephanie.) Her gaze skipped over the tiny blue sweater. It sat on a straight black walnut needle, with the other stabbed carelessly into the ball of yarn. The warm needles themselves yearned to be wielded; the delicious yarn in the colors of the summer sky brazenly wished for handling … but the project? Unfinishable. Brynne stubbornly looked elsewhere.
There was a hat in progress, made of a warm and cozy merino wool; it was a dark midnight sky kind of blue with almost a purple shimmer. It matched the scarf she made for Jaqi for her birthday this year, and the Irish Hiking Mittens she made for her the Christmas beforehand. It also had a deadline out a few months, but it’s good to have a lot of projects in progress, in Brynne’s mind. Then if she got bored or needed a shock to her brain, she could switch on a project more or less complicated, situationally dependent. She even had yarn from a previous project still tucked into the magazine rack; small little balls of a fine yarn she had purchased especially for a shawl for her dear friend Kelsey while she was in the hospital. It had been a very intricate and lacy shawl, and had really taken her mind off of everything else while she had worked on it. She could get lost in it for hours, it seemed, and while Marsh hadn’t appreciated it, she was grateful for the mental break. However, the shawl was finished now, and those small balls of creamy bamboo and wool could be filed away in her display cabinet of yarns. She made a note on her list, and gazed at everything else, studiously avoiding the tiny sky blue sweater, still. The small buttons (they had been meticulously picked out after hours of picking through containers full of other buttony objects, and they were shaped like farm animals) sitting next to it were dusty, of course, but she didn’t even notice that. She focused on the empty glass sitting on a rubber coaster. That I should take care of now, she thought, and she picked up the glass and hurried away to the kitchen.
As she stepped into her brightly lit kitchen her eyes began to sting. Steak with peppers and onions for dinner, she thought, and after placing the glass in the sink full of other dirty dishes (and making a mental note to try to tackle those after dinner was through,) she wrapped her arms around her husband, resting her head on his shoulder, as he stood at the stove preparing a delicious meal for them. He briefly leaned his head against hers, then turned around and held her close. She leaned into him.
“So glad it's Friday,” she muttered into Marshall's neck. He nodded in agreement. “I'm going to get this place sparkling clean and uncluttered. I feel so--” she shook her shoulders from side to side while searching for the right word, “penned in here sometimes.”
He nodded, and after a moment they separated. She sat down at the small round table in the corner of the kitchen, and stared into space, startling for a brief moment as Marshall sat down a glass of red wine (cabernet sauvignon, the only wine she bothered to keep on hand) on the table in front of her. She thanked him absent-mindedly and sipped the red wine, then pulled out her list and began adding items from the kitchen – wash the curtains, scrub the stove top, dust the window sills, self-clean the oven, all manner of cleaningness. Scrub at the sink faucet with a toothbrush, she thought with grim satisfaction, It's the best way to get all the muck out.
“What's with the snarl, Brynne?” Marshall asked, shocking her out of her thoughts, as he plated the dinner and carried it into the dining room. He picked up her wine glass and carried it over to the table as well, indicating with a head toss to come along. She removed her shiny black pumps and stood, smoothing her apron over her dark grey pencil skirt. She picked up her list off the small table and joined Marshall in the dining room. "Just thinking about cleaning the sink grout with a toothbrush," she replied.
The dining room was a little dimmer. The windows weren't quite as big as in the kitchen, and the curtains were frequently drawn so that they weren't staring at their neighbors walking down the walkway during their meals. The brightness in the dining room came from her yarn display cabinet, and the vase in the center of the table large mohagany table, stuffed with a mixed bouquet that Brynne picked out weekly during her grocery exploits,. This week it was full of pinks and yellows and whites, but Brynne already knew that next week she would be picking up some nice red roses. Just because she could.
The yarn display cabinet was currently her pride and joy. One can never have too many skeins of yarn, they said in Knit Wit, her knitting group (frequently, and it really wore on some people and spouses, and especially those spouses that were cognizant of how much a skein of yarn could really cost,) and Brynne strongly believed it. The cabinet was originally a china cabinet, with large glass doors closing off the display of fine dishes. Brynne didn't care too much about her dishes; most of them were purchased at a big-box store, for cheap, and they were easily replaceable. However, the many and varied skeins of yarn, she cared about. It wasn't organized by much of anything. Brynne liked to throw colors that look good in together, but she was not very strong on the color matching, so it maybe looked good to her eyes, but not to others. This yarn cabinet was one of the few works of art shown in her home, and anyone who disagreed? Well, they didn't do it to Brynne's face.
On the top shelf, she had the colors of the sky; the blues and the cloud whites and the faintly purples blending in with the yellows and oranges and pinks and reds. On the bottom shelf, the colors of the ground; browns, tans, creams, with greens and the occasional leafy orange-red thrown in for good measure. It had a certain appeal, this cabinet, and it begged for an onlooker to touch the silky softness of the internal goods. One could sink into yarns and never escape, quite happily. A bed of yarn would be heaven, in Brynne's mind, and in the minds of many of the women in Knit Wit, of course.
Brynne and Marshall always chatted over dinner. That was one of the things Brynne loved about Marshall, to be honest; on one of the worst dates she had ever been on (a blind date set up for her by one of the Knit Wits, Pearl,) her date hushed her every time she opened her mouth during the meal. He had insisted on ordering for her (and ordered shellfish, which she never ate,) shushed her when she tried to talk about anything, and then expected her to put out at the end of the night. (She got Pearl back later by setting her up with the serial proposer – he carried his grandmother's wedding ring in his wallet and proposed at the end of every date that didn't end in tears or a face slap – and often they ended in both after the proposal!)