The Smiley-Faced Sponge, flash fiction by Ayvan Saila at

The Smiley-Faced Sponge

The Smiley-Faced Sponge

written by: Ayvan Saila



Pancakes were her favorite breakfast food. I cut them into bite-sized squares and handed her a plastic fork. She wanted to pour the maple syrup herself. Today I indulged her, pancakes are just an excuse for syrup anyway. I did not make any for myself. I don’t eat pancakes and would not have time to make my breakfast till later.

When she was done eating, I gently wiped her face and moved her to the living room where she could watch videos while I did the morning chores. Company was coming and everything needed to look perfect. We had recently moved in and the apartment was not finished. Without counters or a sink, I poured water from recycled containers into a blue plastic tub on the folding table to wash her dishes.

I had purchased a yellow sponge in the shape of a large smiley face to brighten my mood, which had become oppressively pensive and pessimistic. The sponge now seemed ridiculous, shallow wastefulness like the puddle of syrup leftover on the plate.

While taking mental note of all my mistakes so far that day, I double-checked that the bathroom and her bedroom were clean. I had bathed her, brushed her teeth, and helped her into her favorite outfit.

As I threw her soiled sheets into a plastic bag, David walked into the apartment without knocking. “Hello!” he exclaimed with noticeable affectation.

“Hi!” Suzie exclaimed. She was thrilled to see any visitors, and they usually brought gifts.

“I brought chocolates,” he told her as he placed a handful of individually wrapped chocolate candies on the table next to her.

I withheld my objection, it would be of no use, and it probably didn’t matter that much anyway.

She frantically struggled with the wrapper. “Here, let me do that for you,” I said. While her attention was fixed on the one candy, I removed the others from the table, hoping that she would not notice my subtle maneuver. I would give them to her another time.

“Hi, David,” I said, “She loves watching the videos you left for her.”

“Oh great,” he replied, “I will add more to the thumb-drive when I come back. I’m going out of town again tomorrow; I’ll be gone for a week.”

“Really? Where are you going?” Suzie asked as she flashed a big smile with chocolate-covered teeth.

“I’m going to Ohio for business,” he said in an apologetic tone, “but I’ll see Nick and his daughter while I’m there.”

“Really?” She asked again, still smiling.

“We spoke to Nick last night on the phone,” I said, “He mentioned that you were coming.”

“How is the apartment?” He abruptly changed the subject as he started to give himself a tour. “Is it working out for you?”

“Yes, I can manage. When will they install the sink and the counters?” I asked in reply.

“I’m not sure, it could be a few more weeks,” he said.

“Ok,” I pretended that I didn’t care that much. I really could manage without it. “But I need a washer and dryer though. Hauling laundry down to the laundry room is not working for me. I can’t leave her here and it is too difficult to bring her with me, especially without an elevator.”

“That is no problem. Let’s talk to Nick about the finances, then you can research models that fit the budget.”

“Ok, thank you. I appreciate that.” I said.

“It has to be a short visit today,” David shifted his attention back to Suzie who was staring at the television again as she’d lost interest in our discussion. He bent down over her chair to hug her.

“Bye,” she said as she hugged him back, although with some difficulty as if lifting her arms was too much effort.

“Bye, thanks for visiting. Enjoy your trip.” I said.

“Call if you need anything,” he said politely.

“Alright,” I said as I closed the door behind him. I knew I would not call him. I could manage everything myself.

I was glad it was a short visit, now I could have breakfast. I walked over to Suzie to see whether she needed anything else.

“Who was that?” She asked.

She caught me off guard, but I quickly hid my reaction, and calmly answered, “That was David, your youngest son, remember?”

“Oh yes, I remember,” she lied.

I pretended to believe her. Maybe lying, like eating chocolates for breakfast, didn’t matter after all.

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