The Housekeeper’s Daughter

My brain is starting to unravel. It’s gone bad. I can feel everything loosen up, softening, rippling under the inverted moonlight of my eyes. It’s really gone bad.

I’m starting to see the big picture now, and I’m not sure what it isblurred candy shadows, a scorched candlewick, the skin of eggshells, a smile in the dark?

Late at night as Los Angeles purrs in its sleep, I dip my fingers into my decomposing skull. It’s soft and gooey, a non-Newtonian fluid keeping secrets I itch to uncover. I creep and dig, my fingers rummaging through the mess and I’m tired, tired of being me. So tired, exhausted, withered and disgusted with whom I’ve become. I’ve realized I am so predictable. Day to day I spend too much time wishing. Wishing I were different, wishing I had a better life, wishing I were new; an other worldly being to blow away the masses, open mouthed and drooling, wishing I were animal; peligrosa y cruda. I have spent my entire life wishing.

When I was a child, my brother and I used to go to work with our mother. We were the housekeeper’s kids. Come to raid the fridge, devour cable TV, swim in the poolour underwear our swimsuitsand play with the dogs and cats. It was another world to be consumed, set ablaze by our wide eyes, a privilege, a dream.

We were the housekeeper’s kids; I was the housekeeper’s daughter.

Alone, I would nap in king size canopy beds and dream about my future, hoping to one day live in the homes my mother cleaned up along the curves of Benedict Canyon, Mulholland Drive, Los Feliz, Brentwood, Coldwater Canyon, Malibu. Wishing, always wishing.

I’d slide from room to room touching everything, leaving behind my fingerprints, imprinting myself onto glass paperweights, stationary bikes, unused seat cushions, bay windows, paintings I could not understand, white pristine bed sheets, photographs, flowers in the garden, mirrors and most of all the air, the lovely clean air. Imprinting, leaving behind splinters of my soul so I could come to collect when I was older.

Being the housekeeper’s daughter never bothered me. I loved it. My mother was often embarrassed, not wanting me to tell others what she did. It never bothered me, not even when she cleaned the houses of some of my best friends. Today it still doesn’t bother me, but my view of it all has altered.

My mother’s patronas used to be 99.9% perfect; refined creatures of beauty with long slender legs, graceful fingers decorated with golds and silvers, smooth skin, bellies that never growled, and little to no nalgas, which made no difference because they possessed tits that had been well cared for. I wanted it all.

Today, I no longer want what they have. It’s all the same, just different packaging.

Today, I am the housekeeper.

I slide from room to room, a snake licking the unclean air. Whispers breathe onto my scales and I know their secrets. I know when husbands no longer sleep with their wives, I know when one glass of wine has increased to two bottles of whiskey, I know when a pets passing bruises the ceilings and walls, I know when annoyance becomes deep and fractured hostility, I know when disease becomes another family member, I know when redecorating has become compulsive, I know when a child’s broken bones or explosive temper becomes another knot in the dining room table, I know when the longing for a mate dissolves beneath the bed, forever a distant dream.

It’s all the same, just different packaging.

They are my family and I don’t want any of it.

I don’t want their muck.

I don’t want to wash their tear stained pillowcases.

I don’t want to smooth their wrinkles.

I don’t want to be their secret keeper.

I don’t want to mold them new lives.

I don’t want to see them cry.

I don’t want to feel their fear.

I don’t want to smile when they lie to me, to their partners, to their children, to themselves.

I don’t want to help pick up the pieces.

I don’t want to throw out the trash.

I don’t want to scrub away the scum.

I don’t want to dust away the memories.

I don’t want to be their treasurer, retaining their troubles.

It’s all the same, just different packaging.

I want my own life.

I want me.

I want my future.

I want I want I want.

I want eternity to figure out what I want.

But tomorrow I will be their treasurer, their secret keeper.

They are my family; I breathe their air.

I am no longer the housekeeper’s daughter. I am the housekeeper.

Tomorrow I will keep wishing, as I always have, little girl or not.

A.R. CastellanoA Los Angeles native, A. R. Castellanos writes poetry, fiction, and memoir that draw upon her vibrant and tenacious ancestral heritage in Guatemala and California. Her conjured worlds encompass feral spirits, otherworldly legends, and the disconcerting realities of domestic workers in Hollywood celebrity homes. Her work has appeared in Drunken Boat, Chaparral, and Duende, among others. Aside from writing, Castellanos loves watching movies over and over again with her dog Nola, a rare breed of wolf-bear. For more please visit https://arcastellanos.wordpress.com.