Friday, December 4, 2015

Everything and Nothing

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: Clippings. Dozens and Dozens of newspaper clippings. 
It was submitted by:


The little house on Clermont drive was filled with clutter.

Okay that was probably an understatement.

When Shannon walked into her mom’s little 3 room bungalow on the outskirts of town nestled under a canopy of trees, she really wasn’t prepared for how bad it was. She hadn’t been here in several years which is something, she thought, she would eventually have to come to terms with rather than letting the guilt eat at her. But she also knew why--she knew she couldn’t deal with the mental instability that plagued her mom over the course of her entire life and rather than be pulled down with a sinking ship, Shannon had jumped and for the last 7 years she hadn’t looked back. She had spent her time swimming to shore and setting up her own life on a relatively mom-free island. She had managed to phone her a couple times a year since then but that was the extent of their newly defined mother-daughter relationship.

Then she got *the* call.

Her mom, now 77, had fallen at home by herself and broken her hip apparently, but she had no way of getting help. She couldn’t get to the phone from where she was especially with all the clutter, and no one was around to check on her. Shannon was the only relative she had left really. She died there in the middle of a pile of old magazines and garbage. Alone and in pain and forgotten.

Shannon pushed her way inside the house and was taken aback by how much her mom had started collecting since the last time she saw her. Even then it was pretty bad, but that was nothing compared to this. The first room is the living/bed room. There were newspapers clippings everywhere covering every wall and every surface, faded and yellowed and falling apart. Crates of old magazines were stacked in every corner, on every table, and covered her mom’s bed in the far corner of the room. Where she slept was as good a guess as anyone’s especially since the couch was littered with old plastic cups from fast food restaurants piled high and overflowing the arms like ants turning out of an anthill, and the recliner was a storehouse for packets of ketchup and salt.

In all the house, there was only one tiny walkway that was clear of junk, flanked on either side by high piles of this and that. She took the tour being careful not to bump into either side out of fear of avalanche and felt more and more lost the further along she crept. The woman who had lived in this house couldn’t have been her mother. Not this bad. Could she? The woman who lived here had been so empty she needed to collect garbage trying to fill, essentially, a bottomless void.

The first room to the left was the kitchen. The doorway itself was open and free of her mom’s insanity, but she had no idea why. The room was impossible to navigate. None of the dishes were clean laying in haphazard piles on the floors and counters and spilling out of the sink. Garbage poured out of the garbage can, fermented and musty and swarming with fruit flies. Rotten banana peels, takeout cartons, bits of rice, and tiny maggots were strewn across the floors. Glass shards twinkled in the little bit of sunlight that pushed its way through the dusty window above the sink. There wasn’t a single spot on the floor not covered by filth and debris.

The bathroom was next and to the right. Magazines were stacked in the bathtub, water damaged and moldy. The toilet was black in spots and the smell alone was enough to make Shannon feel her insides squirming with threats. Toilet paper scraps covered the floor and paper rolls were stacked by the dozens in the sink and on the countertop. Toothbrushes, worn down and unable to be discarded, laid in heaps in front of the linen closet. The toilet might have been usable even if completely unsafe, but there was no way her mom had been able to bath in quite some time from the looks of things.

She moved on then unable to come to any real grips with the hopelessness of collected toilet paper rolls coming to the end of the hall, the back part of the bungalow. Every room had been checked, every room filled to the brim with nothingness, the desperation to walk away and pretend she had never seen any of this welling up inside her screaming at her to get out, get out, get out.

She should have listened.

There at the end of the path wedged against the cold, metal back door was a makeshift pallet of old nappy towels and a worn and yellowed pillow. This is where she slept, her mother. The woman she had loved despite her flaws had slept in her own house on rags in a back corner like a forgotten urchin, house filled to overflowing with trash she couldn’t bear to part with because she had nothing else.

She collapsed then on her knees crying and guilt-ridden and still knowing there was no other way this could have gone.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm Rena’s World Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles Never Ever Give Up Hope The Angrivated Mom Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part time working mom The Lieber Family Blog Juicebox Confession Climaxed


  1. You make me want to cry for Shannon. We all have issues with our moms, but some truly are insurmountable. And that is something no one wants to have to live with.

  2. Wow, so many similarities to my father in law. He died this year, 78, broken hip from when he fell asleep at his cluttered home. He did make it to the hospital, though.
    My husband and his sister still spend many Sundays at the old apartment, going through mountains and mountains of stuff.

  3. Tragically that is what happens to our elderly these days. I sincerely hope that this was just the prompt and not something you went through. If so, I am deeply sorry.

  4. This is so sad and unfortunately, often true. I hope this was a story and not something you had to live through

  5. This was like reading about an episode of Hoarders, only it truly broke my heart.

    So, well done! I like when you get my prompts. :)

  6. Truly heartbreaking. So easily could be a true story. I hope it's nothing you've had to go through.

  7. If you don't read the prompt and just the text it is funny and confusing. But good job

  8. I have a strong urge to go home and clean my house right now....