The Laundry Line

There is nowhere else to go, all the doors and windows are locked, so I sit here on the stairs, crying on the stairs, here in the rain, the soaked laundry in my lap, think about the time my mother punished me for not doing my work as I was commanded, leaving the laundry on the line until the rain had come, how the next morning the clothes smelled of mildew, and even though I tried washing everything again, three or four times for most of the garments, I could not get that smell out of them, and so she yelled at me, told me I was the laziest person she’d ever known, and how could I be a child of hers, her whole family having been hard workers, how that hard work ethic was not bred in me, that I would live a useless, aimless life, all because of some laundry I forgot on the line, only remembered after the sound of the rain falling, hard, driven by the wind, woke me up from a dream I was having about running out into the rain, grabbing the clothing from the line, running to the back door, turning the knob, finding it locked now, and then seeing my mother standing there, from her side of the door, smiling a wicked smile, then turning her back on me and walking away, me screaming for her to let me in, pounding, pleading, and all the time the wash getting heavier as the water soaked in, weighing down my arms, the muscles aching, heavy, so painful that the pain woke me from that dream of her cruelty to the reality of remembrance of the laundry I’d left outside, those sheets and shirts and jeans that would never dry again, never come clean again, until I finally had the idea that if I boiled them in lilac oil the odor will disappear, so I heated the water to a rolling boil, had it all tumbling away in the pot, and the fragrance and the heat made me drowsy, but I feared falling asleep in the middle of my work, so I purposely stood in the middle of the kitchen, made all my muscles resist gravity, work against it, and I watched the water and the clothes boil, the mildew smell boiling away as well, which leaves me now praying, in the name of the father and the son, and the memory of my mother and her great love for me, if I can only open this door now.

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