I awoke the day before Thanksgiving to the rumble of the vacuum. I lay in bed, wiggling down under my covers until the comforter was right below my nose. It had gotten cold over the past few weeks, like Mother Nature had flipped a switch, locking the temperature at forty degrees. Mom changed the sheets on my bed last week, putting on the fuzzy Jersey knit ones instead of my normal blue striped ones. They helped, but I always woke up with an icy nose because my bed was along the window—I liked to pretend I had one of those window seat benches like the girls in movies who lived in mansions. I covered my nose with my comforter until the air under the blankets got too stuffy.
I dreaded going downstairs. If Mom was vacuuming at seven-thirty in the morning, she was in Scary Cleaning Mode. She turned into a tornado of cleanliness, sucking up anyone she came in contact with and forcing them to clean along with her. Caroline and I always stayed out of her path as long as possible, but we usually got dragged in anyway.
The vacuum sound was getting closer. She was vacuuming the stairs. The only people who made her this crazy were her parents.
“Grandma and Grandpa are coming on Wednesday,” she’d announced when Caroline and I got home from school on Friday. They tried to come for Thanksgiving every year, but they lived in upstate New York and the weather sometimes made the drive difficult. “That means I need you both to move your things up to your room.” She pointed to Caroline’s magazine stack next to the couch and my Belle costume basket full of books and leftover candy—it had sort of turned into my living room library, never making it back to my room after Halloween. “And shoes stay in the coat closet at all times.”
“Does that mean we have to go barefoot everywhere?” Caroline asked with a grin.
The glare Mom shot her clearly said she did not appreciate the sarcasm. “When you are in the house, Caroline. No piles of shoes in the doorway or by the stairs. Coat closet. Got it?”
She’d only gotten work as the week progressed. Even Dad got snapped at for leaving his hat on the end table instead of taking it to his room after work. The only upside was that it seemed to smooth some of the thorns between Dad and Caroline. The three of us sort of banded together like a support group, shooting each other sympathetic looks when one of us made a clutter error. The three of us were ready for Grandma and Grandpa to leave before they even got here, just so Mom would go back to normal.