The Cleaner

It was what she’d wanted to do for years

J.A. Taylor
4 min readJul 21, 2022
Image by J.A. Taylor on Instagram.

Leena wasn’t the type of woman who took any shit; she was the type who cleaned it up.

She had a job doing just that when she was in high school, back when she would have done just about anything to earn twenty bucks. Two hours cleaning the toilets at the station earned her a jackson she stretched to last a week. It wasn’t a difficult stretch when gas was ninety-six cents a gallon. The first ten dollars filled up her manual transmission Corolla, the next three bought her a meal at McDonald’s, and the following four took her to a movie with Ian and Charlie. Any left over was usually enough to buy the three of them each an ice cream.

But now, almost three decades later, Leena still spent her days in high school, teaching math at Eastridge High. She often looked at the kids in her class and thought about Charlie. He was still out there every night, killing it. Literally. Decades ago when the three of them had stumbled upon the Sparkstone, it changed everything. All of Charlie’s rage mixed with that newfound power convinced him he owed the world something. Justice was a strong word for what he did now, but it certainly wasn’t vengeance. Retribution, maybe? Ian hadn’t been much different, just more vocal and prideful about it. Leena, however, took a more dignified approach to helping humanity: Attempting to…