Washing for a New Future

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

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   Facing a pile of laundry in the middle of the living room, and a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink, Sandy already felt tired. Her daughter would change clothes three times a day, and just leave clothes all over the place. Ah, teen angst and trying to fit in. Being a teen was hard enough, but her daughter, Barbie, was 14 and wanted to always look her best. There seemed to be a never-ending competition for the girls at her school to wear the newest, latest trends and not only was Sandy tired of shopping, she’d tired of doing laundry all day.  

   Ever since Sandy had gotten a divorce, she tried to keep herself afloat and tried to find odd jobs to make money. She had found herself pregnant at 16, and dropped out of high school. No skills, no diploma equaled taking whatever job she could to put food on her table.  

   She lived in a run-down apartment complex, and while doing her laundry, heard multiple complaints from the elderly ladies that it was so hard on them to manage on laundry day. Sandy had the idea to go door to door, offering her services. She would come to them, pick up their laundry, wash, dry, and fold or hang up their clothes, for five dollars a basket. If anyone wanted the clothing ironed, she added 3.00 to the asking price. At the moment, she had seven clients. And now, her daughter seemed determined to be a non-paying client.  

   Sandy drank a quick cup of coffee and ate a protein bar. She had to make the rounds to pick up the daily loads of clothing soon.  Glancing at the list she made every night before bed, she tried to mentally calculate how much she would make that day. 

Marge in apartment 102 always had 3 baskets for her, and she wanted it ironed. So that would bring her 24.00. Then, apartment 106, an elderly man named Jeff and his wife Denise, always had four baskets. They wanted nothing ironed, so that would be another 20.00. Janice in apartment 110 had her grand kids living with her, and always had four baskets. She had no time to iron, so that was another 31.00 to add to her daily total. 

Amber, who lived in apartment 125, always had just one basket, and did not require ironing, and Sandy never charged her anything. She was not elderly, but had Multiple Sclerosis and it was difficult for her to walk, and Sandy felt it was just good karma to help her out. Amber always loaded her down with plates of goodies, and a soda or water bottle for her to enjoy while doing laundry. Ginger and Matt, in apartment 204, had two baskets every other day, and they wanted ironing, so that was another 16.00.

   Altogether, today would be a pretty good day. She would earn 91.00, and that was a good day. Once she finished all the laundry, it would be around 5 p.m. She did not have to make dinner tonight, Wendy had plans to go spend the night with her friend. She planned to finish as fast as she could, and go out to eat a quick dinner at Subway, then come home and do her favorite thing. Read. 

She always had an audio book playing, and had just used some money to buy a pair of wireless headphones. She had been looking for a good deal for a while on Amazon, and seeing a pair for 49.99, had jumped on the deal. She felt guilty spending money on something so frivolous, but while trying to do laundry with a wire attached to her phone had been annoying. For two weeks now, wireless had proved freeing and she loved it. She would try to download a few more books to listen to tonight, and just sit and enjoy her time with her book. 

   Heading out and gathering all the laundry for the day, Sandy noticed she was low on quarters. Feeding dollar bills into the change machine in the laundry room, two dollars in the machine read OUT OF CHANGE. Great. Now she would have to run to the corner store to grab change. There was a shopping complex close enough to the apartments to walk, so she left her car and walked over to it. She got the quarters, and came back to the laundry room. Great, now all the machines were full. Sitting around waiting for the machines to finish their cycles, Sandy sat and listened to her book. She added loads to the machines as they opened up, and four hours later, started returning clothes to their owners and collecting the money.

   Since Amber lived the closest to her, she returned her's last. She knocked and Amber didn’t answer. She knocked a few more times, and still got no response. Having stood there for 5 minutes, it worried her. Leaving the basket of clothes at Amber's door, she went to the office to get a manager.  

   The manager, Scott, was not a very nice man. He stood at 5’11, and always wore a sour expression. Though handsome, he smelled of tobacco and urine. Relatively young, Sandy always wondered what had happened to him to make him appear so unhappy. 

Entering the office, Scott looked up from the computer he was working on, and greeted her with a good afternoon. Sandy explained the situation with Wendy, and he agreed to open the apartment and check on her. Sandy trailed behind him, to Scott’s annoyance.  

   Knocking on the door a few times, Scott called out to the occupant. “Wendy?” No response. After several knocks and calls, he announced he was entering the apartment, and unlocked the door. What met them took their breath away.  Blood was everywhere. Fearing the worst, Scott and Sandy immediately closed the door and Scott called 911. “Scott, we need to go in there and check if Wendy is alive or not.” Scott refused, saying, “No, the ambulance and police are on their way, and even if she is alive, what can we do? We’re not trained in anything but basic first aid, and besides, that looks like a crime scene. I don’t want to contaminate it.” Sandy understood his point, but she knew CPR and if she could render any first aid, she could at least try. Scott finally relented and opened the door for her again, and allowed her to enter the apartment.

   “Wendy, are you in here?” Sandy called as she made her way carefully through the apartment. She was not in the living room, or on the floor. The breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the living room was very tall, and Sandy looked around it to see if Wendy was on the kitchen floor. No Wendy. Sandy entered a small hallway that lead to the bedrooms and bathroom. There were bloody hand prints on the hall walls, as if Wendy had struggled to walk down the hallway, using the walls to support herself.  

   She again called out Wendy’s name, and felt a surge of adrenaline hit her system. Where was she? And how in the world was she hurt? This much blood loss was not conducive to life, so was she dead? Hearing a moan, Sandy stopped for a moment, trying to discern where it had come from. Was that the back bedroom, or the bathroom? Making her way to the bathroom, she opened the door and saw a bloody sink, bathtub and cabinet. The bathtub had blood in it, and on the side of it. The toilet seat was down, and had a few bloody hand prints on it. But there was no Wendy.  

   Sandy turned and headed for the bedroom. The door was open, and no Wendy or blood was in it, so it had to be the back bedroom. The door was open, and had bloody hand prints on it, as if someone had struggled to open the door. Wendy was lying on the floor by the closet door. Wendy was moaning and holding her head. 

“Wendy!” Sandy exclaimed. Rushing to her side, scared to touch her, she asked her what happened. Wendy looked up at her, and it took a moment for her to focus on Sandy’s face. “Sandy? " She asked, a little confused. “What happened, Wendy? Are you okay?” Wendy tried to sit up, but Sandy gently pushed her back down. “Stay down, Wendy. The ambulance is on the way. Can you tell me what happened?” 

“I was trying to make my dinner, and when I was getting a pan out of the lower cabinet, I stood up and hit my head on the cabinet door that I keep glasses in. I guess I forgot I had left it open, and I hit the corner of the open door as I stood up. I lost my balance, and fell backwards, and I guess I hit my head on the stove. I went to wash up in the bathroom, and then came in here to get my phone to call 911. I think I passed out before I could.”  

   Sandy took a deep breath, happy to know no one had attacked her. Hearing sirens, Sandy continued reassuring Wendy, and tried to keep her calm. “I am so glad you found me. If it weren’t for you, who knows how long I would have laid here?” Wendy looked frail and pale, and it worried Sandy that Wendy had lost so much blood, and hoped the EMT’s would hurry up and get here. Holding her hand, Wendy kept telling Sandy how grateful she was to have her here with her.  

   The EMT’s arrived, and Sandy stepped back to let them help Wendy. One EMT asked Sandy if she knew what had happened, and she gave them all the details Wendy had told her. A police officer announced his presence, and Scott and the officer walked in together. Sandy told the story to them and Scott and Sandy exited the apartment. The EMT’s brought Wendy out on a stretcher, and took her to the waiting ambulance. The officer told her and Scott which hospital they were taking her to, had them sign a report he had prepared, and he took his leave.  

   Scott turned to leave, then stopped. He turned to Sandy, and spoke. “I think it is really nice of you to help Wendy the way you do. It isn’t everyday that someone helps others, and had it not been for you, she may have lay there bleeding for a while. The officer said it was really just two flesh wounds, and that head wounds bleed really badly but are often harmless. With her having MS, it may have caused more issues for her than someone without MS, and it was good we found her so fast.” 

Feeling tears in her eyes at the praise, she lowered her head and looked at her shoes. “I am just happy we found her, too, and I am so glad she’ll be okay. I’ll head to the hospital to be with Wendy, but first I want to get cleaned up.” Scott said he would also go with her, and if she wanted, they could go together. Agreeing to meet in an hour, she went to shower and change her clothes.

   An hour later, Scott knocked on her door. She opened the door, surprised. Scott stood at the door, but don’t look like he normally did. And the smell. What was that, Hermes? He’d ironed his clothes, the crease down his jeans as sharp as a razor, his white button down shirt starched to perfection. His hair, now feathered, looked terrific. He had shaven, and he was smiling at her. He held two bouquets of roses. One was a beautiful assortment of colors, the other other was 12 perfect red, long-stemmed roses. 

He held out the red roses to Sandy, and his smile turned sheepish. “These are for you. I hope you will accept them?’ He asked, and Sandy took them from him. She stumbled through a thank-you to him, and went to place them in a flower holder. “This was unnecessary, Scott, but than you for being so thoughtful.” “It isn’t everyday that I get the chance to give flowers to a pretty lady, and today, I get the chance to give them to two. "  

   Done with arranging the roses, they left her apartment and made their way to his car. He held the door open for her, and got in on his side. Starting the engine, he made his way to the hospital. The conversation was light and comfortable, and Sandy felt herself relaxing. She really could get used to hanging out with Scott, he was really handsome and he cleaned up nicely. They arrived at the hospital, and he came to open her door for her. As they entered the hospital, he asked the nurse what floor Wendy was in, and she gave them the room number.  

   Wendy was in a bed, crisp white sheets folded around her. She was happily watching the overhead tv, and the nurses had pushed a bed table filled with a hospital tray meal and drinks in front of her. Wendy smiled at Scott and Sandy as they entered, and her eyes fell on Scott. 

“Wow, you look great!  And what a nice looking couple you two make, she said, winking at Sandy. Scott, I’ve never seen you dressed up before. And, you brought me roses!” She reached her had up to touch the bandage wound around her head. “I need to get hurt more often!” She joked.  Scott handed Wendy the roses, and bent down to kiss her cheek. “I am just glad you are okay, and that Sandy found you so quickly.” Wendy looked embarrassed and explained, “I was trying to get dinner ready, and should have been more careful. 

Scott reassured her, “Wendy, it can happen to anyone. At least you did not seriously injure yourself.”  Sandy nodded in agreement. They pulled up chairs to Wendy’s bedside, and chatted for a while. Getting ready to leave and let Wendy rest, they promised to come visit her again Wendy told them the Dr.s had already told her they would release her the next day, and that when she got out, she would have them over for dinner. Sandy teased her and told her she would cook and bring the food over.  They each gave Wendy a hug and kiss to her cheek, and left her room. 

   Back in Scott’s car, Sandy and Scott sat in comfortable silence, and drove to the apartment complex. Opening her door for her again, she got out and he walked her to her door. “I don’t was to presume anything, but back in Wendy’s room, I felt maybe it would be nice to be with you again. Can I take you out to dinner?” Sandy blushed, because she had been thinking the same thing. “Well, Scott, I planned to go to Subway for dinner, if you like we can go together.” He agreed, and they walked toward the shop next to the complex together. He tentatively took her hand, and she let him hold it. Hand in hand, they walked across the parking lot, not knowing what the future held for them. Sandy was so happy laundry had helped her find her possible soul mate, and a new future.

February 29, 2020 19:50

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1 comment

Aisha Hashmi
16:06 Mar 19, 2020

Cant believe I made a mistake and not one single person caught it!


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