Folding Memories

Submitted into Contest #31 in response to: Write a short story about someone doing laundry.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction Funny Kids

The scent of a fresh dryer sheet fills my nostrils as I reach into the machine and wrestle out an armload of warm clothing. I plop it on the counter and start to fold. 

Those are Dad’s nice pants, they have to go on their separate pile because they get hung up. 

Here is Mom’s hoodie that she stole from Phil; which pile can I put it on and not be accused for favouritism? I deliberate for a minute, the go with Mom, because Phil can’t do anything to me. Mom can. 

And those— those are my brother’s work jeans that should not have been in the same load as the other clothes.

Here is the dress I wore on Sunday. Just past the knees, flaring skirt; it’s perfect for church. My hair looked really nice that day too, and I had bothered to put on makeup. Whenever I was playing piano, I endeavoured to look nice. 

There is another pair of Alex’s work jeans. These are stained with dirt as well as paint. He wore these when we were trying to get the roots of an obnoxious little tree that kept growing in our flowerbed. Dad had pulled out most of it with a chain attached to the tractor, but he moved on to bigger and better while Alex and I worked for another hour with shovels, pocket knives, hammer and chisel, you name it, to get those little pieces out. I tell you, that was a resilient tree. It will probably come up again this spring. 

Savana’s dress is so yellow. It’s got a big tropical print on it, and contrasts nicely with the tanned skin she has that I try not to be envious of. She wore it for our family pictures. 

Here is my Mario t-shirt. It used to be Alex’s, but his arms got too big, so he handed it down to me. Imagine getting hand-me-downs from your little brother! Of course, it is reasonable when your little brother is also half a foot taller than you and probably that much more muscular. It’s my favourite shirt for off days during the week. Coincidentally, its the shirt I wore when I broke up with the only boyfriend I ever officially had. He said he was convinced, but I was not. I had hated myself for not being able to love him, but the feelings simply weren’t there, so I ended it before it got to far. I lived on pure prayer during that time. It was hard. But I’im still here, and so is that t-shirt. We’re both better for it: I’m happier and wiser, and the t-shirt is softer and stretched out but still not faded. I smile as I fold it. He is now engaged to a girl much better for him.

Another one of Mom’s hoodies is in the stack. She seriously wears them every chance she can. She used to have three, each different brand and different styles, but all the exact same shade of pink.

Tyler’s Batman t-shirt, and another one. The kid has never seen a superhero movie in his life, but he has an imagination to rival most directors, I am certain. He can play for hours by himself, making the most amazing / crazy / realistic / hilarious sound effects while flying from one couch to another. 

Here is a shirt that Phil almost never wears! It looks so nice on him. He’s tanned too, and the peach button up looks so classy. 

I honestly don’t know how Tyler manages to tear holes in all his pants. It’s not like he runs across a long floor, throws himself to his knees, and slides on the polished wood like my brothers and I did when we were younger. Although Phil only ever wore through one knee. We never did figure out how that worked. 

There is a black tank top. An item I hail as the most versatile piece in my closet. The most pleasant memory I have with that article is in the garden with Mom. The ground was slightly damp, not muddy, and felt cool and soft beneath my feet. It smelt amazing. The tomatoes were just beginning to ripen, and every so often I would pop one Ito my mouth, savouring the sweet, sun-warmed goodness. Dirt was under my fingernails. The sun was pleasantly warm. A cool breeze played with the strands of my hair that had escaped from its braid. It was a perfect afternoon. Mom was teasing me about a guy that came to camp that year, and I was blushing because I was now of an age when I was allowed to think of such things. That is years ago now. 

These jeans are mine too. They have a stain on the right thigh because I was babysitting, and little Noah reached up to get my attention with a hand full of mud from the sandbox. I have some super cute pictures of him and his brother that day. 

Here is an apron. It came out remarkably clean, considering what it is used for on a daily basis. I got a cookbook for Christmas with all kinds of amazing recipes: like lasagna soup and buffalo chicken quesadillas and sticky pork bowls and shrimp scampi roll ups and funnel cake. Everyone is reaping the benefits of that gift! 

There’s something in the pocket of these jeans. They’re Mom’s. It’s Kleenex, of course. Hopefully she’s not getting allergies again. 

Aha! There are my leggings! I knew that someone had them, and here they are. Well, they are going back in my stack now. 

A door shuts outside. The Armada is back. Voices spill into the foyer, then spread over the rest of the house. My peace and quiet is over. Tyler comes into the kitchen first. I ruffle his hair.

“We’re bringing pizza,” he announces. 


He peeks over my shoulder to my laptop. “Did you get lots of writing done?”

“Yes, I did. Do you want me to read it to you?”

“Yeah. But later. I’m hungry. The teacher made us do lots of laps today.”

Savana comes in then. “We’re bringing pizza.”

“I know.” I smirk. She groans.

“How do you always know stuff?”

“I have my ways… Shall we set the table?”

We do, and Mom enters, carrying the things the kids have dropped. The other boys are just behind her, carrying pizza boxes. I hear a door outside again and look out the kitchen window. Dad just got home from work. 

“Did you fold the laundry?” Mom asks.

I stand still for a moment. My eyes widen. “I completely forgot; I’m sorry, Mom, I totally meant to.”

“Oh, Keri—“

“But I wrote a whole story about it?” I give her my best innocent smile.

She grins too. My forgetfulness is well known, and well acknowledged. I just get to fold laundry later. 

“Let’s eat.”

March 07, 2020 04:44

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


20:52 May 04, 2020

Wow! Who knew that laundry could make such a great story? I loved how each piece of laundry told a unique and special story about it's owner. I liked the ending, too. You should really be proud of this.


Keri Dyck
22:05 May 04, 2020

Thank you! This story meant a lot to me.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Shantesh Patil
03:10 Mar 13, 2020

The story has a mix of memories that are fleeting and some that are more fleshed out. I felt like the longer more detailed memories were more interesting to read through and could be expanded more and you could have cut down on the smaller ones. Ends on a nice positive note.


Keri Dyck
19:11 Mar 13, 2020

Thanks for the feedback. It’s always nice to get an opinion :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
13:53 Mar 12, 2020

Keri, your story was recommended to me for critique. I really like how each item of clothing evokes a memory, that's a really good way to illustrate how folding laundry can be so much more than just a mundane chore. I was also impressed that you were able to maintain present tense as this can be hard to do consistently, well done. I do, however, think that you could have included more dialogue, even in the case of the breakup, it could have included a scene of the actual interaction with the ex. I also didn't feel a real connection to the ...


Keri Dyck
19:14 Mar 13, 2020

Thank you for the honest feedback! And yes, I had to go back and edit multiple times in order to maintain that present tense. As to the story, I based it entirely on my own life, the people I know, experiences I’ve had, etc, and looking back now I can see this would be rather bland to those who don’t know my people. Thanks again!


22:50 Mar 13, 2020

Keri, Honestly, it was anything but bland and I think that the best stories and characters always have some origin in the author's life. All that I was implying was that I felt like you could have done more to connect the reader with the characters. Maybe, since you're already so familiar with everyone in the story, that you assumed that the readers would just get it? I would have loved to have been introduced.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Maya Reynolds
16:40 Aug 04, 2020

I laughed at the end when I realized you were only writing about laundry the entire time - ha ha! That is definitely something that I can see happening in my family :). And I can totally sympathize with holes in younger brothers' pants :)


Keri Dyck
21:09 Aug 04, 2020

Haha that’s great 😆 yes I only thought of the twist once I got to the end but I thought it was pretty funny too


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.