‘Just follow through. Just get the dustpan and sweep it up,’ the mister said as Adelaide rested the broom, carefully nesting the pile of crumbs, glitter, paper snow and sandpit sand between the bristles and the wall.
There was a silence between them – despite the boy dressed up as Spiderman and the boy with the basketball – and her silence was this: when you aren’t here, I open the door and push at the mat with my foot and swoosh the sweepings into the yard. And then I hold the broom at shoulder height..I look at the shit that is scattered around and I think ‘that will all just blow back in’. And then I get the outside broom and I sweep it all across the pavers and over towards the lawn.
His silence was the grout. And the way that he always said oh, look here they are whenever she said I can’t find my keys.
Adelaide looked at the pile she’d swept and it was all the piles she’d seen. They’d been on parquetry, floorboards, lino, slate. This house, that house, that one too. The brooms were blue and yellow and red.
But those piles underneath the orange broom…against the lino that was never quite Handy Andy white…whose piles were they? Probably Mum’s. Possibly Dad’s. And who in the end had scooped those up? Who was the one who followed through?
Adelaide cleared her throat and wished again that if the cold she had almost got this week were going to appear it would just get on with it, she wouldn’t mind the day in bed with a book. And then she said: ‘would you like a cup of tea?’ and the mister said ‘yes’ and she put the kettle on. And later on, he stuck his face over the top of her book and said ‘peppermint or green?’