Mess by Krista Love

After hurling her phone at the wall, Miranda left her apartment to knock on her neighbours’ door across the hall. Miranda was four years into motherhood. Four unyielding years that created a near permanent look of despair on her face, along with an atmosphere of bewilderment emanating from her pores—or her soul—she wasn’t sure which. 

Miranda and her neighbour often knocked on each other’s doors, leaning in their own door frames to chat. These visits could last five minutes or thirty, each taking turns listening and crying. Today Miranda was crying when Cora, her neighbour answered. Cora, a woman in her sixties with a shock of white hair, bright blue eyes, and a penchant for wearing loose-fitting jeans that gave her a perennial easygoing appearance. As soon as Cora opened her door, Miranda blurted out “I think I have a rage issue. I keep throwing things. I am scaring my kids.”

Cora, having been a social worker for forty years, answered with calm authority, “No sweetie, you are frustrated. Frustrated that you are not receiving the support you need.” Cora’s words wiped the tears from Miranda’s eyes.

“Hold on,” Cora said, “I’ll get you my bag of rice and a stick.” She went deeper into her apartment and reemerged with a duct-taped bag of rice and a piece of doweling. “Now go home and put this bag of rice on a chair or table and whack it with the stick, making a HA sound each time you hit the bag. Also, make sure you never eat this rice.”

Miranda followed Cora’s instructions and returned to her small apartment filled with her big feelings, bag of rice and stick in hand. She set the bag on the kitchen table and stood with her feet apart, chin up, two hands wrapped around the dowel, eyes locked on the bag of rice. She swung upward. With an exhale, she drove the stick directly in the center of the bag. The whack was punctuated with a quiet yet intense “HAAAAAAAAA!”

 Miranda felt a moment of release. The bag, as if recovering from the impact, quietly and suddenly split open and all the contents spilled out all over the dining room floor.

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” Miranda shouted.

She bent down onto all fours and started scooping up rice with her hands while saying “motherfucking pieces of shit,” wishing someone was there to hear. Not her kids, they were asleep, and she didn’t want them to hear, but an adult someone who could mother her. She was now throwing handfuls of rice towards the sink with much of it bouncing off the side of the counter.

She took a deep breath and got herself to a place of standing upright on her own two feet. She pulled her hair back into her this-means-business-ponytail.

“One thing at a time,” she reassured herself.

Ignoring the rice sticking to the soles of her feet, she started cleaning up, first by putting most of the dishes away. She put a few aside. Then without much thought, she walked to the linen closet, grabbed every sheet and laid them out across the living room furniture and on the floor. 

“Just one plate,” she thought to herself. 

She cocked her arm all the way back and with all her childhood baseball training, she imagined a runner was about to steal home base and this throw needed to make it all the way from outfield to the back catcher to get that player out. She threw a plate, methodically and deliberately. It was not like the other times when she felt like she was erupting and would throw something haphazardly. The plate hit the wall and it broke spectacularly, shattering across the entire living room landing on the awaiting sheets. 

“OUT!” She yelled to the imaginary runner.

Another plate hit the wall, and another. The plates flew and the tears flowed, one plate after another flew across the room and smashed against the wall. The tears kept falling and the plates kept exploding. When all the plates were broken Miranda kneeled on the floor, uncovered a couch pillow, dove her face into it and screamed. The cry was a thousand rice hitting HA’s! rolled into one long thunderous wail. Then there was quiet. A lengthy moment of delicious silence.

“Mommy?” her son walked slowly, half awake, into the living room.

“Did Mommy wake you with all the noise?”

“What are you doing?”

“Cleaning up a mess.”

He seemed to find her explanation satisfactory and raised his arms asking for picky uppy. She picked him up and he rested his head on her shoulder.

“My big sack of potatoes,” she said while gently rubbing his back.

“Mommy I had a dream you were playing baseball, and you won the game.” With that he fell asleep in her arms.


As she walked her son back to bed, Miranda paused to note the feeling she was experiencing, a buoyancy. She then felt something springing forth from deep inside her, she hadn’t felt in a while—it was a smile. She gave her son a gentle squeeze while whispering in his ear, “I did win the game.”

About the Author

Krista Love is a creative writing student at Selkirk College. She lives with her husband and kids in Nelson, BC. She is passionate about learning and creating.

About the Artist

Photo by JoslynLM

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