HOUSE CLEANING • by Rasmenia Massoud

The way I had it planned in my head, this would be the easy part. This is what I had been waiting for: boxing up worthless knick-knacks, pulling cheap decorations from the walls, emptying dusty closets and driving it all to Goodwill.

The way I had it planned in my head, this would be where I start being happy. This would be the part where I finally felt free.


“What do you want to do with this?” My husband, he’s holding a bulky photo album as though it was a wounded animal.

“Throw it,” I said.

“But, maybe there’s some pictures here you’ll want to keep… from when you were little.” He lifted the cover and peeked inside.

“Throw it.”

“There might be something with sentimental value.”


The way I had it planned in my head, nothing would have sentimental value.

Nothing would be worth keeping.

There would be junk, destined for a landfill.

There would be charitable donations.

There would be stinking piles of worthless objects for anyone to claim if they wanted to.

There wouldn’t be anything of value to me.


“You look really cute in this one.” Now he’s holding an old photo he’s extracted from the album. I’m looking at me — a smaller me who suffers nightmares and bruises.

“Who’s that guy holding you? Is that your dad?”

“No,” I say, “I don’t know who that is. I don’t remember. It got hard to keep track of them.”

“Your mom looks different.”

“That was the pre-cirrhosis era.”

“You sure you don’t want to keep something?”

“Throw it,” I said, handing him the photo.

“She was still your mother.”

“She stopped being my mother a long time ago.”


The way I had it planned in my head, there would be no tears.

Rasmenia Massoud‘s work has appeared in, or is forthcoming in The Legendary, Big Pulp, The Shine Journal and Eclectic Flash. She is from Colorado but now lives in France where she spends her time speaking French poorly and writing about what frightens and baffles her the most: human beings. You can visit her at:

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Every Day Fiction

  • Linda G

    Yeah, that’s the way I have it planned, too. *****

  • AJ Smith

    Very compelling piece of flash.

  • ajcap

    Compelling. Excellent word for this story. A lot of emotion in not many words. Very well written. *****

  • Less than 300 words, yet the author told us the entire life story of her protagonist. Gripping and powerful, this is, to me, what flash is all about. Once again I wish I had more than 5 stars to give.

  • 5 stars from me too! This evocative short work takes the reader right to the experience of growing up in this context. A beautiful, powerful piece of writing.

  • vondrakker

    Five stars

    Lotsa Questions raised by this piece.
    I like the Illusion ..the unanswered
    Questions. The childhood,,the parade of “Fathers”
    The drinking, the collecting.
    The letting it all go….Throw it away.
    Dump it out…..Let me live !!!Finally.

    Great job Rasmenia !!!

  • Jen

    This is really well written and true to life. Nothing goes as planned, even th eplans we’ve had oure entire life and we love who we love no matter what they mad to us. Fantastic!

  • Simone

    “The way I had it planned in my head, there would be no tears.” You were wrong – I’m still sniffling.

    Excellent portrait of a woman’s pain, resentment and anger and her determination not to express those feelings with tears.

    Five wet hankies from me!

  • Not a comfortable read. But life is not always comfortable and this is a raw slice of a painful life. The emotional conflict of disposing of memories – disposing of a life – is very fresh for me, too. Wonderfully observed. Excellent flash.

    8) scar

  • lindsay

    Great piece. Went from mundane to shocking without missing a beat — this will stay with me for a while.

  • Powerful, compelling and way to apt to my life.

  • Rose Gardener

    In no way a criticism and it doesn’t need any improvement, but I can’t help wondering, ‘Why now?’. What finally prompted this change of heart and gave her the determination to dispose of her past baggage?

  • ajcap

    Rose, I took it to mean that her mom had finally passed away from her liver disease and they were cleaning out her mother’s house.

  • Brian Dolton

    Loved this. Did exactly what it needed to do, not a word wasted, not a spare word. Very nice, and a super-rare 5 stars from me.

  • EEG

    Nice story, though the the shifts in tense jarred me a bit. I would’ve stuck to present tense.

  • The emotional punch of this is overwhelming. Excellent flash. *****+

  • Nancy Wilcox

    Emotional and understated, and totally well done! Excellent.

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