“Oh, this is a bad one. I am not sure we can scrub it all away.”
“Don’t be silly Mary, of course we can. We only have the one job, and darn it, we will do it.”
That is when Sally jumped in with her two cents worth.
“I agree with Barb. Look at this, he has love stuffed in every nick and cranny of his heart, and his memory is so distorted he doesn’t even remember why they broke up!”
“Shut up and scrub!” Debbie didn’t quite yell, but it was close enough. “I, for one, do not want to spend a decade cleaning this one up. Put your backs into it girls.”
All four of them dipped their rags back in the Love Bucket. The Love Bucket was filled with: Time, Forgiving, Forgetting, a large dose of Moving On, and a dash of maturity. All the things you need to clear out a heart, mind, and soul, to make room for another- or a new- love.
Usually the girls were able to clear a heart in about three to six months. Some of the more stubborn ones - the ones stained with regret- those could take a year or more. Rarely, except in a few cases like: Death, or if the relationship was torn apart by circumstance not by choice, did “True Love” linger more than three years after it ended. It was True while it was working…and then- well, it wasn’t.
That’s when the girls drag in the Love Bucket and start scrubbing. Some stains won’t come out. Mostly first stains, you know: first kiss, first real love, first lover, first apartment together. But with a good scrubbing and adding some “Memory Fade” to those experiences they became just shadows that brought the occasional bitter sweet memory back…and then it would Fade again.
This one was different. It had been Seven Years. Seven. Every day the girls would plaster the walls of his heart with their rags dipped in the Love Bucket. They covered the wall again and again with: Time, Forgiving, Forgetting, Moving On, Letting Go, and loads and loads of the bleach of Memory Fade too. They ran out of Maturity a long time ago…this man was as close to Wise as Humans ever get- and still he couldn’t let go.
If they added any more “Letting Go” to his heart or memory, he would become one of those shells of people who never move on. Never risk falling in love again. Doomed to hang on to a dirty shabby rusting of what once was…a long long time ago. A reality turned into a mythical story with no basis in real life. A delusion carried to the grave- alone.
The Girls scrubbed harder. Refilling the Love Bucket over and over each day. It was backbreaking, heartbreaking, and sad work. Debbie finally called a halt.
“We need help. We are low on everything from Moving On, to Faded Memories- and we used up all the Maturity we had. Even the stuff we borrowed from Leslie’s crew - and her team works with Puppy Love- so she gave us tons of the stuff. It isn’t working.
The Love Bucket will have to be replaced soon too. I don’t think it has ever been used this much on just one love. Sheesh. I am at my wits end. Any of you Girls have a suggestion?"
They were tired. Their rags were tatted, worn, stringy from overuse. Rags that should have wiped out all but the strongest of memories and cleared the “might have beens” or “could have beens” from the windows of the heart. It was exhausting to clean that much love out, every single day. The Love bucket sat in the middle of that poor man’s heart in a puddle of melancholy left over from yesterday’s mopping with New Day. A New Day should have shone through, but no…merely a film over yesterday.
Sally spoke up.
“Girls, I know this sounds silly…”
“At this point Sally, nothing could be silly. Go on…” Said Debbie.
All the girls nodded exhausted heads to Sally- signaling her to go on.
“Well, I was talking with Mark over in Lost Loves (the Girls Shuddered- to clean a heart that will never be used again was some tough work) and he was wondering if instead of cleaning out the old loves all the time, if maybe…well…if maybe we couldn’t bring in a whole new love. A love so strong it doesn’t need the old one removed at all. It just builds on the Old love to make the New Love grow. Like remodeling an old home with some modern upgrades.”
There was a stunned silence. You could almost see the wheels spinning in the girls minds.
It was worth a try.
The Girls called Mark over in Lost Loves…did he have any leads?
He said he had a strong unloved heart headed to a small party in an apartment in Texas somewhere. The Heart was so clean as to be empty. That girl had never had a real love. She was kind of shy and quiet, and her church and job were enough to fill her time. She loved Dogs and Cats- and those filled her few needs for affection and attention. Would that do?
Debbie almost screamed out loud:
“Yes! That is perfect. Why he can move his stuff into her heart and still have rooms left over for children, or grandchildren, or heck, even In-Laws.“
That made all the girls laugh, very rarely did they have to clean a room in anyone’s heart after an In-Law. It does happen, but not as often as you would think. Most just try and get along- and the Memory Fade works wonders.
And so it came to be.
The man didn’t really want to go to the Party. He didn’t know anyone there except the girl at the pool who asked him to stop by. He was just trying to be a good neighbor. His plan was to just pop in, say hello, and then explain he had a big test at the University tomorrow and would have to leave. He never got to use his plan.
He walked in the door, and there she was. Sitting in a Rocking Chair, laughing quietly at some statement made by someone sitting near her. He must have been staring hard because her laugh broke off and she turned to look at him. The laughter died in her throat, but the smile made it all the way to her eyes. He smiled back, with the smile in his eyes making it all the way to his mouth.
And that was all it took.
Debbie and the girls stood in the hallway of his heart. Mark stood behind them trying to peek over all their heads. Sally was holding the Love Bucket, and everyone had clean rags. They kept looking around the rooms of his heart- spotless.
His old love had a few rooms to herself. Silver frames were everywhere…snapshots of a long love, from long ago. But no dust of wishing, wanting, or return anywhere. Sally set the Love Bucket down.
“My. My. My. Will you look at this. Look! There was a new room in his heart, but it wasn’t his. It was hers. It was made there by his new love, and it was a room thanking the old love for teaching him how to love. If he hadn’t had her as a first love, he wouldn’t have the new girl as his True Love. And the True Love girl knew that.
All the girls and Mark marveled at how clean, warm and friendly this new kind of room was. It was filled with gratitude over all the walls, and rugs of thankfulness scattered everywhere.
Mary pointed to the door. Everyone crowded around to read the feminine writing on the door:
“You are welcome in my home. You gave me my man. Already trained to be kind, to listen, to support. To make me laugh more than cry. I would love to meet you someday.“
Mark had to take one of the rags from the girls to wipe his own eyes. He had never seen the likes of it.
Sally took the Love Bucket by its handle and turned to walk out of his heart.
“Let’s go girls. This heart won’t need cleaning ever again.”
The Love Bucket banged against Sally’s leg. It was empty. Their rags were dry and free from: Time, Forgetting, Moving On, and Maturity. Only a slight lemony smell of Fresh Memories lingered as they closed the door to his heart.
The girls took the Love Bucket to another heart. Whistling as they went.