Colin blew a strand of hair that tickled his eye. He could feel beads of sweat on his face, and he could tell that, even though he was wearing gloves, the soapy water was drying out his hands.
He honestly had no idea how he ended up stuck on dish duty. Again. He really thought that after his performance yesterday, he would have been sacked. If it were up to that girl, he could’ve been free before the breakfast service even started. He remembered the look on her face when she kept judging him and huffed.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to do anything. He was acting.
Unfortunately for him, Aunt Sophie seemed unphased at his ineptitude. He even almost broke a plate when Aunt Sophie first put him on dish duty. But it didn’t so much as dent, and then Amy came in and yelled at him for being behind.
Colin scrubbed at the dish in his hand.
When he broke the dish later, it wasn’t entirely his fault, he reasoned. Since the plate didn’t break in the sink, he thought it was one of those unbreakable dishes. Cleaning the tablecloths later taught him differently.
“You’re falling behind again,” Aunt Sophie pointed out, pulling Colin from his thoughts.
He looked at the stack of cups waiting for him and swore.
“It never ends,” he whined.
“I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle,” Aunt Sophie replied with a smile and a shrug. “I’d hurry before Amy comes in with another round of dishes.”
“Whatever,” he mumbled, quickly grabbing a cup. “Why do you even have her around? She’s so uptight.”
“She gets work done,” Aunt Sophie replied, her tone implying that she wouldn’t say the same about him. “Besides, she’s sweet, and the customers seem to like her.” She paused. “She’s very pretty, too.”
“If you say so,” Colin said, picking up another cup. “I’m used to celebrities, so I’m not sure what the standards are for average people.”
Aunt Sophie snapped her fingers, like she had just realized something.
“So that’s why you’re still single,” she said. “Because of your high standards.”
He glared at her.
“I’ll have you know I’m just not the relationship type,” he huffed. “I can get the girls. I just don’t keep them around.”
Aunt Sophie just chuckled and turned away from him to open the fridge. He resumed his scrubbing of teacups.
“Behind again?” Amy asked, dumping a tray of dirty dishes next to him.
“It’s under control,” Colin said with a flush. “Aunt Sophie was just… distracting me.”
“Learn to multitask,” Amy retorted with a shrug. “We’ll need more teaspoons soon, so try to fish them out of the bottom of the sink.”
He flushed again, remembering that she had already warned him putting teaspoons in the sink to “soak” would just make finding them harder later on. He dug around and pulled out a handful of teaspoons.
“There they all are,” Amy said. “I’d push them to the front of the queue if I were you.”
She walked out. Part of Colin wished she’d just offer to do it for him. It worked yesterday morning. And some of the afternoon. Now, she just seemed dismissive of him. He tossed his head.
She was very odd, he thought. She’d known him for, like, two days now. Almost three full days. And she hadn’t tried flirting with him once. Except for on the way to the ferry… but maybe that wasn’t exactly flirting. He glanced at his soapy reflection in the teaspoon. Sure, the work was making him sweatier than usual, but he wasn’t that different.
He shook his head and returned his focus to the dishes. Maybe she just wasn’t interested in men, he reasoned.
After the breakfast service ended, Colin quickly grabbed the tub and headed to the dining room. Amy was already stacking dishes. She gave him a curious look.
“I came to help,” he said, setting the tub on a table and piling dishes inside.
“Trying to break more dishes?” she asked.
“So, um, I guess we don’t know much about each other,” he said. “I mean, you could probably Google me for anything.”
“I could,” Amy replied, her tone implying that she probably wouldn’t.
“But I guess I can’t Google you,” he continued. “So, tell me about yourself.”
She sighed, like she was frustrated that he was asking about her. Not that he understood why. He thought being sociable was a good thing.
“What do you want to know?” she asked.
“Oh, anything I guess,” he replied with a shrug. “Where are you from, what brings you here, what you and your girlfriend like to do on a Friday night… anything really.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend,” she replied with a curious look.
“But you are…” he began, trailing off.
She shook her head.
“Straight and single,” she said. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
Colin’s brow wrinkled. Well, there was his strongest theory out the window. As he tried to think of a response, he heard the dining room door swing open.
“Oh, hi, s-sorry to intrude.”
The guy standing in the doorway was sweaty and clad in a plaid shirt and khaki pants. His hair was in desperate need of a cut, and a facial wouldn’t hurt either.
“I think I left my sunscreen in here,” he said.
“Is this it?” Amy asked, reaching for a bottle on the table nearby.
He nodded, and she brought it over to him.
“It looks like it’s going to rain today,” she noted. “You might not even need it today.”
“You should wear sunscreen even on cloudy days,” the guy replied, and then nervously added, “I mean, I should. I’m not telling you what to do.”
He gave a short laugh and ruffled his hair. Colin scowled. The guy had his sunscreen. Why wasn’t Amy kicking him out so they could clean?
“It makes sense,” Amy replied with a smile. “But since I’m inside, I’m probably safe for now, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course.”
Colin cleared his throat loudly. Amy glanced at her watch, and he saw a shadow cross her face.
“Well, good luck today,” she said. “I should really get back to—”
“Oh, yeah, I’ve got… lots to do as well,” the guy replied quickly. “Happy cleaning. I mean…. I… bye.”
He rushed out. Amy returned to the table she was clearing. Apparently, she didn’t see the need to tell Colin what that was all about.
“Who was that?” Colin asked, trying to act uninterested.
“Mark,” Colin repeated, tossing a few forks into the tub. “I don’t think Aunt Sophie told me there was a camper on the island.”
“He’s a guest here,” Amy replied.
“Then why doesn’t he use one of the showers?” Colin muttered.
“I said, he doesn’t look like the usual customer,” Colin replied quickly.
“He’s here for his university studies,” Amy replied. “Something about fossils or rock types or something on this island.”
“You don’t know which?” Colin asked. “I guess you don’t know him very well then.”
“We talk,” Amy replied coolly. “Though it isn’t any of your business.”
He tossed a few more dishes into the tub.
“It’s filling up,” he noted loudly. “I’ll go start on the dishes.”
He stomped off. Only because the tub was heavy, not because he was stomping out of any kind of feeling. So Amy had bad taste in men. That explained a lot about her. He kicked open the kitchen door and began filling the sink with dirty dishes.
“Oof, rough day?” Aunt Sophie joked. “Try to not break that yellow mug. It’s one of my favorites.”
“I’m not mad,” Colin replied.
“I never said you were.”
Colin shook his head, like that would clear it. He put on the bright pink gloves and turned the water to the proper setting.
“So, how long has that university kid been on the island?” he asked. “Mark something.”
“Oh, you met Mark.”
Colin rolled his eyes, but he didn’t reply. After a few moments, Aunt Sophie spoke up again.
“He’s been here, oh, two weeks now,” she said. “He’s such a sweetheart… albeit a little awkward.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” Colin replied.
“Especially around Amy,” Aunt Sophie added. “He must fancy her.”
“I think he’s gonna be here for another couple weeks, too,” Aunt Sophie continued. “Two weeks… Anything could happen.”
“Two weeks is an eternity,” Colin muttered in agreement.
The door swung open, and Amy dumped the rest of the dishes at the sink.
“I’m going to clean the rooms while you finish this up,” she said. “Then we can take care of the food trash and finish up.”
“I did the food trash yesterday,” Colin argued. “Isn’t it your turn?”
“What is this, kindergarten?” Amy asked with a short laugh. “Fine, whatever. You have to sweep and mop the kitchen then.”
“Sure,” Colin agreed quickly, and then looked around. “Where’s the broom?”
“In the cupboard,” Amy replied. “With the dustpan, mop, and bucket. Fill the bucket with two caps of the floor cleaner and hot water. I’m sure you know how to take it from there.”
She spun on her heels and left the room. Aunt Sophie raised a brow as she lifted the apron over her head.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” she said. “I’m off to check the guest books.”
Soon, Colin was alone with a sink of dirty dishes. He sighed. Whatever. The sooner he finished, the sooner he could take a nap.
What had his life come to, when the thought of taking a nap was his motivator? he thought as he scrubbed at the dishes.
He had finished sweeping when Amy came in for the food trash. She looked around, not unimpressed.
“Do you need any help getting the mop bucket ready?” she asked.
“I did this much, didn’t I?” he asked, feeling a little miffed.
He was sweaty and washed enough dishes to feed an army, and she thought it was filling a mop bucket that would be difficult for him?
With a shrug, Amy left him. He grabbed the mop bucket and found the floor cleaning liquid, measuring out two cups. Then he set it under the hot water machine, letting it bubble up to the top of the bucket. He dipped his mop in, pulled it out, and—
It wasn’t so much wet as it was covered in suds. Was this how mopping was done? He began spreading the soap on the floor, starting at the door and working his way in. Soon, the floor was covered in bubbles.
Amy’s voice was shrill, which is what clued Colin into the fact that maybe this wasn’t correct. He glanced up. She was in the doorway, looking at the floor like she had just found the corpse of a mouse in the soup pot.
“With nothing but soap?” she asked.
She took a step inside, which was, honestly, her mistake. As soon as her foot touched the bubbles, she slid. Her feet flew into the air as her back thumped to the ground.
“Are you okay?” Colin asked, rushing towards her.
Which was, in all fairness, his mistake. He left the one un-soaped corner, and he felt his feet slide out from under him. His chin smacked into the island. He grabbed the island with both hands to keep himself upright.
“How much…” Amy began with a groan as she slowly sat up. “How much soap did you use?”
“Two cupfuls,” he replied immediately.
She groaned again. Grabbing onto the other side of the island, she hoisted herself into a standing position.
“I said capfuls,” she said. “As in, put liquid into the cap of the mop cleaner two times.”
“Just… dump the bucket and wipe all the floor with water,” she ordered. “It has more than enough soap already.”
She slowly shuffled towards the door.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“To get some ice from the shed,” she groaned.
Colin sighed. Figures, she’d just tell him what to do and then leave. He followed her advice, though, filling the bucket with only water and washing down the floor. Soon, he found himself back in the corner, just in time for Amy’s return.
“Done!” he announced with a proud smile.
“Not bad,” she replied, the corners of her mouth turning into a smile as she iced her head. “Now, um, how are you planning on getting out?”
Colin glanced at the floor. It was all wet. Except for where he was standing. On the opposite side of the exit. He sighed.
“I can… just walk across and re-mop,” he said.
“That’ll spread all the dirt from your shoes on the floor,” she pointed out. “And you’d have to mop again.”
“What do I do then?” he asked. “Climb the counters?”
“Only if you want to disinfect them,” she replied. “The best bet is waiting for it to dry enough to walk across.”
She looked at him without a trace of a smile.
“Seriously,” she replied. “It’ll only take a couple minutes, so just wait a bit.”
She walked out, and Colin sighed again. He leaned against the counter and stared at the floor. It still looked wet, but it was summertime. Surely it would dry soon.
Aunt Sophie found him about ten minutes later.
“Why don’t you just walk across and re-mop it?” she asked with a laugh.
“Because it’ll spread all the dirt from my shoes… and I’d have to… re-mop it,” he replied slowly.
“Yeah, so then re-mop it after you walk across,” Aunt Sophie replied, wiping her eyes. “It’s not rocket science, darling.”
A flush began to spread across his face as he realized what Amy had done.
“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, stomping across the floor.
He was going to get back at Amy for this.