The floor began the war with a small blemish in the northeast corner of the kitchen. Just a small discoloration of the white linoleum floor that no one in the family but she, Annette, would notice. And she did notice that small stain, ambiguously between red and yellow, but not orange. It looked like a splatter of tomato or blood or perhaps feces. Of course, no one else noticed. If they did, they ignored it. Tim, John, Linda. One of them probably even made the stain.
Annette fought valiantly, sponges and bleach her armaments. On her hands and knees she scrubbed, attacking violently from all directions, though she was hindered by the bank of cabinets. But the stain would not be defeated. If anything, it gained ground. It multiplied, gaining brethren across the linoleum and the beige carpet frontier, in a variety of hues from lavender to chartreuse.
Annette could not hope to win against such numbers; she could not even slay the original stain, the progenitor. Her husband and children were oblivious if not uncaring. They hid in the castles of work and school, ignorant of the silent war being waged in their home. They fraternized with friends, coworkers, classmates, leaving Annette alone in the fray.
Even as Annette was on the cusp of defeat the floor began to diversify its interests. It decided to collect things other than stains: small scraps of paper, toys from when John still went by Johnny, the wrapper’s produced by Linda’s incessant chewing gum habit. A pair of women’s underwear in the bedroom that Tim swore Annette purchased. The floor’s arsenal became relentless. For every discarded English paper Annette recovered and destroyed, the floor beget an old sweater, ugly, unclaimed by any in the family; or an old plastic dinosaur; or, eventually, a box of items from the garage sale down the street. Papers, fabric, doll air began to curl like vines from all corners of Annette’s home as shelves, chairs, even beds joined forces with the floor. Tim John Linda finally noticed and plagued Annette with requests to defeat their common foe, saying it was her fault, her responsibility. She was the enemy, she was the one who bore these multitudinous artifacts into their lives. All Annette saw was the floor.
Annette was overwhelmed. One person could not hope to lay low mountains, even if they were of refuse. Her husband Tim, finally realizing the magnitude of her struggle, refused to ally with her, instead seceding from their union and fleeing their home. He took John and Linda with him, and Annette, surrounded by leaning towers of the items collected by the floor, succumbed.
In a final effort, after long months of waging war, surrounded by the dark of night (for the floor had long since barricaded the light switches) and by looming piles of cardboard boxes, Annette lit a match. Its glow threw her smooth features into sharp relief: Her once smooth skin now pitted from the duress of war, her blue eyes dim and haggard, and her brown hair, once so long and straight, now clumped together unevenly as though seeking support. Annette held the match briefly, contemplating the yellow flame as it consumed the wooden stick, then held it deliberately under a jutting sheaf of newspaper.
The newspaper caught quickly aflame, and Annette, overjoyed at her perceived success, watched as the yellow flame licked at the towered boxes, tasting them before entirely ingesting them. But ingest them it did, and as the fire gorged itself upon the boxes their support weakened. The sides of the towers crumpled, and they fell.
Annette’s joy mutated into fear and then despair as she realized, with the flaming detritus raining down upon her, that she had lost her fight with the floor.