The Cleaning Fairies

         I just did not have the energy to care about much of anything last week, so I crammed the cookie sheet on top of the muffin tins and slammed the cupboard door shut, declaring, “That’s good enough.”

           “It is not,” my conscience said. “Remember the Cleaning Fairies?

            Ahh yes, The Cleaning Fairies. I was just a kid when my mother told me about them. She had just looked in the cupboard and seen the leaning tower of pans that my sisters and I had declared “good enough.”

Mom did not agree. She pulled the pans out and began telling me about a woman who loved to make cookies but did NOT like to clean house or put things away neatly. The local Cleaning Fairies loved her cookies. Whenever the fairies smelled them baking, they flew to her house and begged, “You make such wonderful cookies. Please give us one.”

Flattered, she gave them one.

It tasted so good that they returned begging, “please, please, please give us another cookie. We will do anything for just one more cookie.”

The baker looked around her messy kitchen. “I will give you cookies if you clean.”

“We will! We will!” the Cleaning Fairies agreed. She baked. They fluttered over her shoulder as she measured, mixed, and dropped dough on the trays. They watched the clock impatiently, repeatedly asking, “Are they ready?”

The instant she said, “Yes,” they swarmed the counter, grabbing and gobbling cookies.

“Now remember you have to do the dishes and clean the counters,” said the lady, nibbling her own cookie.

“We will,” they said brushing away cookie crumbs before they polished the pots and pans and neatly placed each in the cupboard.

The next day they returned, “Please make us more of those heavenly cookies.”

“I will, if you clean.”

For seven days she baked, and they ate all they wanted.

The more cookies she made, the more they wanted. Soon their relatives came begging for cookies. “I will bake if you do the laundry, the vacuuming, dusting and make up the beds,” she bargained.

“We will, if you will just make us cookies,” all the Cleaning Fairies said.

Every morning they came tap, tap, tapping at her window, shaking their dust rags and mops, “Make us cookies.” The baker tried to roll over and sleep. They tapped until she slid out of bed.

The baker worked from morning to night. The Fairies kept her house immaculate. Easy to do since she never had time to do anything but bake.

One morning, the sun barely peeked over the hills when the fairies tapped at her window. She pulled the blankets over her head and groaned, “Go away. I do not want to make cookies today.”

Stunned at her refusal, the Fairies protested, “We want cookies. We will clean.”

“I will clean it myself. Go away.”

“No cookies?”

“No cookies!” she said. “Now go away.” She turned over to sleep.

The Cleaning Fairies fluttered at her window a minute longer, staring in disbelief. Then rubbing their cookie-less tummies, they quietly flew back to Fairyland.

“The woman slept until noon. Then she slid out of bed, made a very small batch of her favorite cookies, cleaned the kitchen, and put the pots and pans away neatly. Never again did she make cookies for the Cleaning Fairies,” my mom concluded, shoving the last pan into place. 

Sometimes I recall that story when I start to store pans haphazardly on the shelf. I take time to stack them neatly. No matter how much I hate cleaning and love baking, I don’t ever intend to start making cookies for those Cleaning Fairies.