‘Pine-Sol is the stuff of my memories….’ The girl thinks to herself as she sits at a table in her grandmother’s house. Her mother is in the bathroom cleaning up so that the grandmother won’t have to do it, so the girl’s job is to keep her grandmother company. The problem now is that she can’t. The smell of that chemical coming up the hall teases her nose, and takes her back in time to a rather large house.
‘Every week we would walk next door to the people we rented our house from, and mom would clean while I watched whatever children’s show she would put on for me.’ She breathes deeply of Pine-Sol that now seems as if it is coming from a room that is up a few feet from the living room of this grand house. There were so many rooms that had been there for the little girl to explore, and all of them smelled of the same combination of chemicals that she had grown use to over time. It seemed like such a little thing then, just a smell that someone got use to after being around it at least once a week. The present version of the girl knew better than that however…. she was well aware of the things that had changed since that smell had permeated the air all around her on a weekly basis.
Back in the time of Pine-Sol filled houses the girl has believed that everything was alright within her life, but it was now known to be nothing other than the Disney-like world that all little children lived in at that time. ‘I always thought that mom was like Cinderella, because she would scrub the floors by hand at times…‘ but reality took over eventually, and the girl now knows that her mom would only clean the house so that they would have a place to live.
The girls father had messed up that innocence of the Pine-Sol when he decided to get them thrown out of the house they had been renting, but luckily they moved to another house where she resides now. Every time after that the Pine-Sol would seem to come out less and less, as if it just wasn’t worth trying to clean up the mess that life had fallen into. The family of four, for there was a small child, a son, went on with their lives, and eventually the Pine-Sol completely stopped coming. Money became tight, frustration between the parents escalated into angry conversations no matter where the family was. By the time the girl had turned 14 that scent of Pine-Sol had become completely foreign to her, and she was having to act as if she were already 20 years-old. Her mother was gone on the weekends to work for a dying relative as a caretaker, and her father would be at home getting drunk, doing drugs, and partying. She became the only role model in her brother’s life. Unfortunately, he was having just slightly less hard of a time than she for the fact that he didn’t remember what life had been like before the Pine-Sol had stopped.
Every day got worse. Four years went by where every day the girl lived in seething hatred of the man that is meant to always be there for her, her father. Each day they would come to blows over something different, and if (by some magic unknown to the rest of the world) she did not get hit that day or hit him then they would scream at each other until their throats were surely going to bleed from the constant strain of using their loud voices in anger at each other. No one really knew that any of this was going on save for the girls few close friends who had been there since the family had moved to their present residence. The hope for things to eventually get better had vanished in all that time, and she was merely existing.
Two years ago the mother had finally divorced the father after finding him doing drugs when they had not had any money left to feed themselves. It nearly came to blows, but the father finally left and everything seemed to go into a limbo state where everyone was stuck in that time where they knew it was over but couldn’t quite fathom that it had happened. The Pine-Sol still didn’t come back, not even with the father gone, the source of all that had perverted the family life of two children, one of which could no longer call herself a child if it meant that she were to act like she held the ignorance of one.
The scent of Pine-Sol finally came back today, and maybe…. just maybe that meant that things would get better again soon…