Anais Mitchell

I first met Anais Mitchell down the kitchen utensil aisle of Wilkos.  I was looking for a new mop and couldn’t decide between the Vileda Ultramax flat mop, or the unbranded Kentucky mop.  I held the Vileda in my left hand, the Kentucky in my right.  

Excuse me, came a voice from around my elbow.  I looked down and was met with a disarming smile strapped with a guitar. 

Yes? I asked.

 I’m sorry, said the woman who owned both the guitar and the smile, I can’t help notice you are shopping for a mop.  

What gave it away? I asked, charmingly.  

She laughed, touched my elbow affectionately and said, Seriously, there’s no competition, just look at them.  I looked.  She continued, The Vileda is a monstrosity, it has so many moving parts, so many fiddly plastic hinges and clasps, how could you even consider it next to the simple elegance of the Kentucky?  I blushed.  I felt shame at her words.  She was right and I had known it all along.  The Vileda was nothing more than a broken mop in waiting, designed to be as flimsy and impractical as possible, the head a fragile, replaceable pad that looked like it would tear if it so much as looked at the sticky side of a day-old spillage of vermouth and lemonade.  The Kentucky, on the other hand, looked like it could mop wreckage off a Tenerife runway.  

I think you are right, I said.  

I know I am right, she said.  I found her confidence alluring.  At the same time, I also found it annoying.  She must have sensed my shifting mood and quickly said, I don’t mean to offend you, it’s just that I once made the same mistake I saw you about to make.  I was seduced by the Vileda and spent years buying replacement heads.  It cost me thousands in post-war hyper-inflated Deutschmarks.  There was sadness in her voice, regret, a touch of anger.  

Thank you, I said.  I put the Vileda down.  We shared a silence, a common sort of silence created between strangers who have shared a moment neither was prepared for.  It was I who spoke first.  

You play? I asked, pointing to the guitar she carried.  

I do, she said.  

Play for me, I asked.  

Sure thing, she said.  She then proceeded to play the song Dyin Day from her album Young Man in America(2012).  When she had finished, she helped me mop my tears from the floor using the Kentucky, and we’ve been friends ever since.