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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