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Allie rolled her eyes at her mother and affected that particularly adolescent appearance of seeming utterly bored and contemptuous. Mom just scowled and went right on yammering away. "Young lady, don't give me any of your looks, your lip, or your crocodile tears. You are thirteen years old now and that certainly is old enough to be able to do a few simple chores. You know I have to go to work and I just can't do everything here at home too."
Allie smirked, savoring the expression of desperate exasperation on her mother's face as the older woman gestured wildly about the small kitchen.
"Allison Ann Crockett, that is enough! Just look at this mess." Mom stabbed a finger toward the cluttered counter. "There are the ice cream bowls from when your friends were over two days ago, and the empty juice carton, and just-how-many-glasses-do-you-have-to-use-to-drink-from?"
Harried and quite frantic, Mom grabbed a pan off the stove and shook it under her daughter's nose. "And here are the leftovers from yesterday's lunch. How many times have I told you to put things away and at least rinse out the pot!"
Allie wrinkled her nose at the sour smell and disgusting clumps of the day old macaroni and cheese. She shrugged her shoulders. "Yep", thought Allie, "Mom sure is on a roll."
"Allie, I want this kitchen cleaned up by the time I get home tonight. Otherwise, no allowance, no TV, no phone, no nothing for the next week. Spotless. Do you hear me?"
"But Mom", Allie pouted and wailed, "You know I can't do dishes; first it makes my hands all pruny wrinkly and then it dries them out. I hate having alligator skin! Besides, all those pots and pans are too nasty. Gross. I can't clean them."
"Yes, you can and you will," replied her mother as she buried her head in the cabinet under the sink and pulled out sponges, scouring pads, liquid soap and rubber gloves. "Here's everything you'll need; I'll be back in four hours."
On her way out the door, Mom stopped once more. She sighed and tousled Allie's hair. "You know I love you, kiddo; you just need to help me out once in a while. OK? She smiled and added in parting, "See you later, Allie-gator."
"Mom! That is so stupid!" Allie moaned.
"Come on, kiddo.", her mom cajoled and Allie relented with the oft-shared phrase, "After while, Crockett-dile."
Now Allie was the one sighing and circling the messy apartment kitchen. She figured she had pushed Mom's buttons just about as far as she should go, and she knew that meant the work had to be done. Darn it all anyway, she hated doing dishes though.
"I wish, I wish, I wish there were someway I could get out of this!" Allie watched her reflection in the kitchen window and spoke to herself. "But I guess the kitchen-fairies just aren't gonna show."
She stuck out her tongue at her mirrored image and reluctantly started to clean. She restacked the plates and bowls, clearing out the sink so she could run hot water into it. Allie added a big glug of the soap and watched the bubbles froth and rise. She snapped on the yellow rubber gloves and plunged her hands into the sink.
Allie wasn't going to admit it, but the warm water actually felt kind of good and the soap was bubbling a lot more than usual, sending large iridescent spheres floating up into the air. She started to hum and set up a rhythm to dip and swipe and clean and rinse the dishes.
But, as she continued, things began to get strange. The sinkful of dishwater was not cooling off but was, rather, getting hotter and hotter, the water still bubbling. Her hands started to itch something fierce inside the rubber gloves. Allie tried to pick up a plate and put it on the rack to dry, but it slipped through her fingers and crashed to the floor. "Uh oh, Butterfingers", she thought to herself. Her hands tingled and throbbed; she felt her skin crawl and was then alarmed to find she couldn't even grasp the next cup or bowl.
Allie pulled her hands out of the churning water. The gloves had split at the fingertips and there was something hard and black poking through. She didn't seem to have much control over her hands, but she managed to shuck off the gloves. Allie gasped as she held her hands up to her face and looked at what they had become. Her neatly trimmed nails had become curved claws; her fingers were oddly jointed and the skin up to her elbows was green, tough, and scaly. "Eeeeeewwww... talk about your alligator skin!" She yelped.
"What am I going to do now?" Allie panicked. "I can't finish the dishes; I can't do anything with these for hands!" The phrase came to her, "Be careful what you ask for," and she had so idly wished not to have to do the dishes. "I can't even dial 911!" Allie sobbed, sinking to the floor;
"It's all Mom's fault, if she hadn't made me do the dishes I wouldn't be some freaky geeky alligator girl!" But then the truth trickled out with her tears; "No; " Allie realized, "it's my fault; if I hadn't been so nasty and monstrously selfish with Mom..."
Perhaps, tears can be as good for cleaning some things as Palmolive® liquid soap can be for others. As Allie's tears washed over her hands, they gradually changed back, baby soft and pink. Jumping up and dancing around the kitchen, Allie cheered "All Right!"
When Mom came home later, she was very happy to see the spotlessly clean, spic and span kitchen. She nodded her head, "That's my good girl. That's my baby."
As if from nowhere, a single soap bubble appeared, floated over the sink, and popped in a glittering sparkle. Another house-hold tale ends happily.