Rising before the birds began their morning song, a woman gathered her soiled linens and journeyed to the laundromat. Her own living quarters, filled with yard sale appliances and hand-me-down furniture, hadn’t the room. Someday, she vowed, she’d make the space.
Cycle after cycle she loaded clothes into the steel-faced machines. Her own roll of change dwindled, the woman was reduced to hands-and-knees searching for a final quarter. Shuffling across the floor, she found herself face to foot with another willing to spare her the cost. She made her way toward the washer, the uneven slapping of her sandals against the linoleum punctuating each step. Her payment landed in solid stacks beyond her view.
“Hello, sir. My name–” Clink.
“Thank you for the invitation. I am–” Clink.
“Pleased to meet you.” Clink. Clink.
Her introductions sounded hollow, shallow, over-rehearsed. Truly, she wished she could cry out to her judges. Only wails had the girth to carry the authentic meaning of her repentance. Wave after wave of defeatedness battered against the wall in her mind that kept self-doubt away. These upcoming interviews would determine the state of her future. With so many variables already in flux, she couldn’t afford to be unprepared. So she repeated her lines over and again, mere whispers passing over her lips, timid and withering, drowned out by the rumbling spin cycle.
The woman tugged her shirt down around herself, long sleeves covering the story of her sordid past of flighty moments turned into stewing days turned into weeks disappeared. But in the past those demons would remain, she told — no — demanded of herself. The thought of Omin and Eddie living with strangers made her stomach churn. Bile crept its way up her esophagus, threatening to fill the hamper with spluttering mess. She fought to hold it down.
One leg supported her frame, sandal nervously flapping against the sole of her other foot. A deep huff punctuated her collapse into the support of the counter. She wondered how much longer she would have to stay here, and how much longer until she could go home to her boys. Three days, her mother’s voice reminded her. Three days and together, they could make a family.
A shrill beep punctured the humid air. The woman, feeling younger now, launched off the counter to gather her laundered garments. Someday, she had told herself on many wearied day, she would grab hold of a clean start. Someday started today.