Cleaning House by Veronica Levang Børresen

I take an empty box and pack away his things. The house is a mess, books and magazines stacked against the wall (one pile has fallen over), dirty dishes in the sink, on the counter, and table. A thick layer of dust coated on every surface and a spider’s web in the corners. It makes me sick to think that this is how he lived.

Picking up a book, I flip through it, the stink of cigarettes wafting from the pages. They are faded with a yellow tint. It reminds me of him. I can almost picture him sitting in his green chair, a lit cigarette in one hand, book in the other.

I’m not certain what I’m supposed to do with his belongings. None of it seems worth keeping, even the charity shop down the street wouldn’t accept it. So, it goes in the box. I take my time, examining every item I pick up, curious as to what he has collected over the years.

The walls are empty, but I can clearly see the difference in shade where the photographs used to hang. There was one of me and Emma hanging by the stairs, but I think he threw it out years ago.

I feel like a child again. It’s Christmas and I am sneaking around the house, going through his things to find the hidden presents. Emma is keeping watch while I open each drawer and closet in every room. Except I won’t find a neatly wrapped box with a crooked bow on top.

It’s getting late and I don’t want to stay here anymore. This house is giving me a headache, all the fights about Emma, Mother leaving. There is no point in taking my time, there’s only me left and I won’t keep any of it.

Pulling out a drawer, I tip it over into an empty box, spilling the content. It doesn’t bother me. I think I can make it to Papa John’s on the way home.


Veronica Børresen is a current student at the University of Chester, where she studies Creative Writing and Publishing Fiction (MA). She is originally from Norway but she moved to the UK in 2015 to pursue her interest in writing through a BA in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. During her time at Winchester, she was a part of the editorial team for the University’s literary magazine Vortex.



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