my mum did all the mending. my father fixed all the wobbly furniture. new towels were purchased. and the vacuum cleaner bag was never mentioned.
it was never mentioned in that way that you know it is always, constantly, on everyone's mind.
i am partly to blame for this. i left the vacuum in full view. an unconscious unkindness for which there was no remedy once they had arrived, save for making a big scene of the "i am now moving the vacuum cleaner out of view so that we are not forced to have The Conversation we always have about how i am inevitably going to burn to death because i do not accept responsibilities as they pertain to the protection of my person" variety. a conversation i was, obviously, unprepared to have.
and so the vacuum cleaner remained where it was. visible. taunting us all.
in the quiet of the afternoon, as we discussed portrayals of marriage and strong women in early 60s cinema, my mum kept glancing in its direction with all the hatred one would direct at an instrument one is convinced will lead to the charring of one's only child.
when she employed the outlet nearest the vaccum to recharge her blackberry, i was 97% certain this was a strategic choice so she could inspect the dreaded appliance during the night.
later, my father, during a comically elaborate perusal of the baking supplies, would check the integrity of the nozzle under the unlikely pretext of having "dropped a morsel."
we eatons are ill-schooled in the vagaries of deceit.
ultimately, they made it four days.
at 10:30, on the night before their departure, as my mum studiously focused her attention on filing her nails, she nonchalantly- her voice a mixture of wistfulness and pride- asked, "liney, did you notice i didn't ask about the vacuum cleaner bag? not even once?"
thus, the embargo was lifted and my father, who must have his say in every conversation, came rushing into the room to exclaim, "didn't we do good, bearoline? four days! four days!"
there was a fleeting moment of hushed reverence for their unprecedented restraint before my mum, giddy like a girl on christmas and turning the full force of her blue eyes upon me, put her hand in my hand and said, "now, please, cupcake? please, can i check it now?"
ever the dutiful daughter, i nodded and said, "yes, please."