Friday, 10 May 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013 -

Payment Due

by Rue Chapman
Published: May 06, 2013
Words: 23,945
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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Payment Due

"You don't have to do this."

"Yes I do."

"Mike said he'd do it when he got back."

"He's said that for three weeks. The goldfish can't wait any longer."

"Do you even know HOW to clean the pond filter?"

"Mike does it. How hard can it be? Our dear brother can't dress himself without help." Maddie surveyed the pond in the front yard. "Mike's been promising to do it for weeks. The waterfall stopped running two days ago - that filter must be totally clogged. And I don't want to be knee deep in dead goldfish."

Kelly shrugged. "Well, it's your choice. But don't ask me to help, I'm not going to end up covered in pond slime. I'm going out tonight."

Maddie growled and flicked the switch to turn the filter pump off, then advanced on the pond. Sharing a house with her younger brother and sister had seemed like a good idea at the time - when you live in a small country town you'll agree to anything to get the chance at life in the big city. Kelly was studying Fine Arts at university, and their brother Mike was enthusiastically pursuing a career as an assistant to the assistant to a sidekick to an under-something-or-other on the outer fringes of the music industry. He mostly seemed to get coffee and take messages, but they were very important messages for people further up the ladder.

And Maddie worked full time in the public library, and part time waiting tables in a nearby restaurant, and kept the house running. "Maddie is our little mother hen," her parents would tell everyone proudly, "always looking after the younger ones."

Maddie sometimes wondered why nobody ever thought she needed looking after, too. But somebody had to keep things going, and Kelly needed time and energy for study, and Mike was trying to break into the music industry... and Maddie worked two jobs, did all the housework, and cleaned the pond filter because Mike was too busy and she didn't like dead goldfish.

"And that's enough whining," she muttered to herself, "Nobody's listening to that. And the Cinderella routine got old a long time ago. Besides, fairy godmothers are pretty thin on the ground around here."

She uncovered the filter, small and barrel-shaped, buried in the ground behind the pond. Sitting on a convenient rock, she wrestled the fastenings open. "No no NO!" Two nails broken, and she'd barely started. Her nails were her one little luxury - and now they were ruined. She'd have to put up with it for a week until her next infill - she couldn't afford an extra visit. "Wave your wand and fix that one, Fairy Godmother." She carefully removed the lid. "Phew! Oh lovely, I'm going to smell like muck after this." A solid mass of stinking green algae oozed around her hands as she took the first spongy ring out of the filter. It was clogged solid.