The tragic clogging of filters
by Abigail Williams
Their first dishwasher felt impossibly grown up, like life insurance or fillings. Full width. Six cycles, four different drying settings. They ran it mornings, evenings, sometimes with only two distant cups inside.
He said, It’s like early doors at a wet disco. He made up a song about starcrossed cups and they rumba-ed to the hum of the eco-drying cycle.
When The Baby Years hit there was no time for dancing. The churn of the dishwasher was their constant soundtrack. The rotator arm scuffing against ranked plastic plates, the water spray tossing rubber teats upside down, filling them with gritty puddles.
But is it the same, she said, as sterilising them in boiling water?
He started making up a song. She said, I’m asking you a genuine question.
The children got bigger. Life got exponentially more complicated.
She blamed him for inefficient stacking and their son’s eating disorder. She shouted at him about the way the Weetabix bowl crowded its neighbour – because did he have to smother everything? Plate by plate she rearranged the porcelain castles he built, scraped his excesses into the bin.
Their water ran greasy with his end-of-line patience, dark with her bitter ink.
Let’s go off grid, he pleaded. Bubbles and a basin. We were happy once.
She told him to Get His Head Out of the Clouds.
She was drained. Her filters were clogged with unmet dreams, her teeth gummed grey with half-chewed ambition.
When he left he took the dishwasher with him.
She tried not to stare at its coiled grey-pipe guts, at its pulled-tooth gap. Her shin missed its corner. Her heart missed its hum. She downloaded white noise, pink noise, rainfall, but always her ear searched for something more. The plink of his ukulele. His starcrossed song.