Dirty Laundry

Posted in: Stories

Content in believing that it was the only thing I had to look forward to that evening, my dirty laundry sat and waited in its basket for the moment I would make it back to my apartment. We are all he has tonight, the pile of several-days-worth of clothing thought in unison, He will return from work, get changed, watch his soap opera, and after a few minutes of the 6 o'clock news, line us up for our turn in the washing machine.


The laundry had its own mind made-up about our relationship and the ritual of washing: it thought I approached the task with a heart full of joy, assumed that the expression I wore during the task was a smile, and believed that the only reason I went out of the apartment was to go to my job; a necessary separation so that I could maintain my lifestyle, replace clothing items that had seen better days, and return to it with a heart made fonder by the absence of the one it loved.

But the laundry had it all wrong.

My clothing's inability to empathize made it blind to how things were from my perspective: it didn't see how I thought of the washing as an obligation or chore, it mistook my indifference for a smile, and it just couldn't fathom that I could have a life outside of the walls that composed my apartment. Friends? No, it did not know the word.

Like a building of lies built on a foundation of misunderstanding, the facade the laundry had built around itself was destined to fall. It was a miracle the Jenga-like tower had lasted for so long: a smart man would have only bet on it lasting days or weeks at the most, but to measure the longevity in months was surely madness.

Yet the madness grew, until all it took to shatter the illusion was not the equivalent of a pin-prick to a balloon or a well-timed breeze, but silence.


It was a rather insignificant Wednesday evening in March when I came home. To the laundry, no day in which it would be cleaned was insignificant, and to me, it was significant for different reasons.

"Phew, it's warm outside." I said to nobody in particular.

It is, my laundry agreed. But I did not hear it's words because I didn't think clothes could speak.


For the next several minutes, I did exactly as the laundry predicted: I got changed, I watched Home & Away, and I saw a bit of the news, all the while packing-up the grocery shopping I had brought-in and sorting food items into their rightful places. When I had realized what time it was, I started to put on my shoes to go back out to meet somebody, and that was the first sign to the laundry that this was no ordinary night.

Why is he putting on his shoes?, the laundry wondered.

It reasoned that a small deviation from the norm wasn't cause for alarm. Then it saw me getting my cap, a gesture it knew was a precursor to leaving, and it panicked.

Wait, why is he putting on his cap? He's come back from work already, and it isn't a keyboard or dancing day! What is going on?!

The laundry started shouting then, but I could not hear it. It could have been screaming at a decibel level to rival that of a jet engine, but it was at the wrong frequency – beyond my hearing – so was about as useful as a snail-mail letter from the other side of the world, getting subsequently lost in a freak storm as it travelled over the ocean.

As I grabbed my keys the laundry's protests continued to go unheeded.

STOP! WAIT!

I reached my door, turned the knob to leave.

NO! DON'T GO!

*thud*

Silence.


I returned some 3 hours later, the sun having set a while before, feeling tired. The laundry, whether hoarse from all the shouting or mute because the illusion it had created of our happy bond had been all but shattered, sat still in the silence, using the darkness as a cloak from the outside world that made it oblivious even to my return.

I went to my room, took off my shoes, and then came to the laundry. I turned on the lights so I could see what it was doing, and even with the security blanket of night banished, the laundry refused to say a word. It had learned something there, in the silence of that insignificant Wednesday in March. And it could see now my indifference as I sorted the whites from the colours, that I regarded the task as a chore, and that I had a life outside of these walls. It learned it's place, and that it would always play second fiddle to whatever or whoever it was that could draw me out of my apartment.

And as the sweet lullaby of the moving water sent the laundry into the slumber it oh so used to enjoy, it found it much easier to drop the idea that we ever had something special between us, because it had never existed at all.