Laundry Procrastination

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



Why does that black line blink? It marks where you were last typing, which is stupid because you can easily see where the words end on the page. Unless, of course, you are typing in the middle of the chapter you are currently trying to revise for the millionth time so that it might actually be something that someone with any kind of intelligence would actually want to read one day. What’s another word for sigh? It’s so overused. Exhale, whistle and maybe groan. Groan would work. She would definitely groan at what he just said. Then what, what does she say? This character is a rebellious teenage girl. She wouldn’t let him have the last word like that. What would she say to that?

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I see you little back line. Thank you for the reminder that I am not actually moving forward with this. Groan!

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The washer is done. I should switch the laundry around. NO! I need to make some sort of progress today. Stop laundry procrastinating, Kay, and get this going.

Beep! Beep! Beep

Hmmmm. I can think about what this character’s response is while I switch the laundry around. I will just fold the stuff later.

The laundry room is a vision of domestic efficiency and upper middle-class comfort. The unsightly mechanical looking appliances are hidden behind fine, pine cabinets, along with all the other gadgets of modern day clothing maintenance. The fold-up ironing board, the iron and steamer, even the different types of detergents all have a beautifully designed nook to hide away in. Three large, white bags stand along the wall wearing their Pinterest-worthy labels proudly. Whites, is overflowing due to some sheets and a duvet cover. Colors, is full as well and Wool/Hand washing, is about half full.

Kay enters and empties the contents of the dryer into a spare laundry basket. She places it on the island in the center of the room. She then turns to transfer the wet clothes from one appliance the other.

This character is trying to find her independence. She would be so fed up with his micro managing her and this should be the last straw, the big blow-up. I need more conflict.

She untangles one of her bras from a pair of tiny wet jeans and hangs it on the drying rack.

No idea how that ended up in there, but it looks fine.

She slams the dryer door and pushes a button. It hums into activity. She then studies the three waiting bags of dirty clothes.

What’s next, colors? Yes, Henry needs his uniform for the game tomorrow morning.  I should wash his duvet cover first. It will take longer to dry and I want to make his bed before I pick them up.

The bulky contents of Whites are shoved into the wash. She then turns to the newly cleaned and dried clothing waiting in the basket on the island.

Groan. I should fold these so they don’t wrinkle but I still don’t know what her response is going to be. I need to get back to work. I need to focus. It’s there. I need to clear my head and put myself in her shoes. I can do this.

Kay returns to her neat and orderly desk on the second floor landing. The black bar is still blinking patiently at her on the white screen.


Her fingers get into position on the keyboard then, the sound of progress in the clicking of the keys breaks the silence.

“This is how I’m doing it. I can’t learn from all your mistakes. I have to make my own.”

Oh my God, YES! That’s it! He loves her and is just trying to bestow his fatherly wisdom on her but she can’t just absorb life lessons through being told. She has to have the experiences, the let downs, the successes and the hurt and joy.

Inspiration spills from Kay’s fingers into the keyboard and the little black bar resumes its journey across the page.

That’s good. Now what is his response? He is surprised by her finally opening up but no way is he going to let her wreck her life. Teenagers are tough.

She looks at the framed photo on her desk of two elementary school age boys standing in soccer uniforms on the bright green field smiling back at the camera.

 I have to get the uniform into the wash before pick up. Big kids big problems, little kids little problems. I can finish this before the end of the wash cycle.


Her phone glows to life with the mechanical symphony of a message alert. She immediately picks it up to read the message.

Susan: “Hi everyone! Happy Friday. This is just a quick reminder about tomorrow’s bake sale at the game. Please everyone bring something, it’s for a good cause!”

Groan! I almost forgot. I have been saving those almost completely black bananas for some banana bread. I can get that in the oven real quick. I can plan out this complicated father daughter relationship moment while I mix up the batter.

The kitchen is a large compilation of high quality cabinets that support granite counter-tops and frame state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances. Without referencing any recipe, she sets the oven temperature and starts assembling her ingredients. The mechanical symphony sounds it’s triumphant note, then sounds again, and again. Kay picks up the phone and the screen shows responses in the group message.

Sherry: “I am doing brownies!”

Karin: “Gluten free blueberry muffins from me.”

Emily: “I’m also planning on doing brownies.”

Susan: “Thanks guys! Karin, don’t forget to make a label, noting if there is nut flour used in your gluten free muffins. Can’t wait to try one. Karin and Emily, could you two maybe see if one of you can make something else? I don’t want it to be all sweets and brownies. If not it’s totally fine! The kids will love the brownies. Just trying to limit sugar these days.”

Groan. I hate group messages. This is going to go on all afternoon. She turns the phone on silent and goes about making her banana bread. The washing machine calls to her as she shuts the oven door and sets the timer.

Returning to the laundry room, she repeats all the same motions as before. Piling the newly dried clothes on top of the ones that were already waiting to be folded. The basket is now overflowing and some little socks and superhero pajamas fall out as she sets the basket back on the island.  

I will get to you later. I need to get some kind of writing done today.

She exits the laundry room into the kitchen that’s starting to fill with the aroma of banana bread. She starts rinsing the measuring cups and mixing bowls that assisted in making the banana bread and loading them into the dishwasher. The oven timer is counting down backwards from four minutes and forty-seven seconds.

What am I going to write in four minutes? It’s taken me six months to write one hundred pages.

The silent phone glows on the counter with a screen full of new messages. She picks it up and opens the group message. There are about ten new messages from other

Moms all announcing their baking plans for the afternoon. Her thumbs go to work.

Kay: “Banana Bread is almost done! Sugar free too!”


The oven calls out to her.

She takes out the banana bread to poke a skewer in the middle in order to test the doneness of it. The skewer comes out clean. She turns the oven off and heads back to her landing on the second floor where the little black line is blinking in anticipation.

He is a good dad. What does a good day say to their teenage daughter who is about to make a horrible mistake? Why am I writing about a teenage girl? I have no idea what you say to a teenager. I have two little boys. What am I going to do when they are teenagers?

 She looks back at the photo on her desk and smiles.

Okay think. He doesn’t have to say the RIGHT thing; he just has to say what he would say. This isn’t a parenting book after all. What’s more important to him, giving his daughter freedom to experience things for herself or keeping her from getting hurt?

Blink… Blink…. Blink…

The phone continues to light up with messages about the bake sale.

Glad I turned that on silent. It’s almost two thirty. I need to head out to get a parking space at the school. I know the boys will want to go to the playground after.

She saves her progress for the day but leaves it up on the screen and just puts the computer to sleep.

I can think about this conversation while we are at the playground and then finish it tonight when the kids go to bed.

She peeks into the laundry room to see how much time before the next change over. The washer is singing through the spin cycle and reads ten minuets. The overflowing basket of laundry calls to her.

I can just fold a few things till its done and then get the uniforms into the dryer before pick-up. That will put us in good shape.

By the time the washer beeps, she as started several piles of folded clothes based on their owners. The basket is still quite full and with nowhere to put the now dry and clean duvet she carries it up to her son’s bed and sets it down before rushing back to transfer the wet clothes. It’s two fifty by the time she turns the dryer on again.

Groan. I am never going to find a good parking space now.

The dryer continues its work as she backs her luxury SUV out of the driveway.

The sun reflects off of Kay’s sunglasses on the playground where she stands in a group of other mother’s waiting for their children to wear out. She sizes up another mother wearing a black skirt suit and pushing a swing in heels.

Really Ann? No time to throw a pair of sensible shoes in your car? We get it, you are working full time again. You are just so busy. Where is Henry? Is that his orange jumper under the slide?

She strains her neck to get a better look at the boy playing under the slide.

Yep. That’s him. I’m never going to get those grass stains out of his jeans.


She goes back to watching Ann.

I’m just jealous. It must be nice to go to work everyday where your adult thoughts and opinions are needed. She is an editor, maybe I should I ask her to look at my book. Ha! No. Even if I finish this book, what credit do I have as a writer? She would probably laugh about it with all the other moms who have real jobs. Isn’t that cute, Kay wants to be a writer when she grows up. I will wait to see if it turns out to be any good before I tell anyone about it.  

Backpacks, lunchboxes and homework explode all over the kitchen upon their return home. Kay doesn’t hear the dryer beeping over her children arguing about the superiority of monster trucks versus racecars. She ignores their conversation and goes into making dinner. The chaos continues until their father comes home and the excitement of seeing their dad interrupts their hunger-induced grumpiness.

The evening carries on through the same rhythm as every other evening. Dinner is constant reminders about chewing with your mouth open and negotiations over finishing everything on your plate. Bath time is an epic water adventure involving everything from racecars to Spiderman. Story time is big dreams and colorful pictures. Then it’s kisses, cuddles and blankets. The last thing is just one tiny drink of water. Then the very last thing is just one more kiss and cuddle. Then the very, very last thing is a quick trip to the toilet. Then the very, very, very last thing is fixing the blanket. Finally, the house is quiet. Kay looks at her desk as she closes her children’s bedroom door.

I’m way too tired to think of anything now.


 She wakes up the computer just to shut it down properly.

The overflowing basket of clean laundry patiently waits for her, along with newly dried clothing still in the dryer. She starts to fold.

I can fold laundry. You don’t have to think to fold laundry. Plus then it will be done so I can focus on writing tomorrow.  

March 06, 2020 10:59

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