It was the year of the Cleaning.
It was all anyone talked about. Their faces bright, yet at the same time a little pale. Cheerfully discussing what might change. Bemoaning what might leave forever, but excited to see what would replace it.
Natie’s mother had made her a backpack. As well as one for herself and for Natie’s father. “We can’t keep anything we can’t hold, but if there is anything you don’t want to lose, you will keep it with you.”
“I don’t see what is so dirty right now,” Natie complained. “We clean every day.”
“We clean what we can,” Mom agreed. “But God will make everything fresh for us. You will see. There will be new things to explore and the freshest of water and trees that provide something entirely new!”
Natie knew that. She had been told that before. But the last cleaning had happened right after she was born. She had no memory of it. Now she was ten and would see it for, technically, the first time. She went to her room, wondering how anything in here couldn’t be safe. Mom was always right though, so Natie went through her things to take what she couldn’t be without. The baby blanket she still put on top of her covers. Her teddy bear who had a bandaged arm from when she and Patty had fought over who would play as him during their tea party when they were seven. Her favourite bedtime book that Dad read to her from every night.
Which immediately made her backpack really heavy. So Natie added her pressed flowers in the pages of that book and called it a day. Or a week. Or a month.