The absurd weight of late night laundry

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



I woke up with the sound of the upstairs neighbors marching as if to invade Poland. One must give to Caesar what is Caesar's and say that the walls of my building were made with the sole intent of keeping the structure up; when it came to drown out the noise, I don't believe the builders gave a rat's ass. That thought made my irritation towards the upstairs neighbors less inflamed.

Waken up by such heavy footsteps, for a moment I didn't quite know where I was, but slowly the consciousness came back and I realized I had dozed off while watching a movie after dinner. The opaque light of the TV shone on me and I could see a miriad of possible entertainment choices, but it was late and I found it best to go to bed.

Unfortunately, one of the few unhappy parts of living alone was that house tasks simply could not be divided, and I remembered that there were some freshly cleaned clothes inside the washer to hang.

Drowsily, I made my way to the kitchen and opened the washer machine; the aggressive, moist perfume of flowers hit me in the face as soon as I did so. Once again, too much softener. The thing is, I had always been fixated with scents, spending long minutes enjoying the search on the supermarket for another one even better than the thousands I already had at home. I was also very eager to found my one and only scent, the one that would be remembered as mine by everybody I knew. Our scent fixates the memory of us in other's heads even if they don't quite want it; the idea of imposing the memory of me and yet not being agressive was always a part of my imperialist delusions.

I grabbed my laundry basket and threw all of the wet clothes inside, moving it near the window so I could hang them in the clothesline, which was outside. As soon as I opened it, I realized that the downstairs neighboors were having some sort of 'get together'. Their window too was open, I could hear some light music coming out of the kitchen and there were some hands with cigarrettes hanging loosely to the outside. How can I hear the upstairs neigboors walk, and yet I couldn't hear the small party going on downstairs? There are some things truly incomprehensible to the human mind, I guess.

A woman's laugh musically sounded in the night air and I imediately associated it to the lady I often saw in the hall when getting home from work. A haughty blonde, tall and awfully dressed up, who always gave me the upperclass half smile when I greeted her. I called her Ms. Snobish Van Uppity. She was, apparently, dating (or married to, I couldn't know), Mr. Cute McNice, with whom she shared the appartment downstairs; unlike her, he was quite nice and neighborly. He even brought me a plant when I first moved in.

As I hung the clothes, I realized that Ms. Van Uppity and Mr. McNice, not contempted with their own company, decided to invite some extra friends, for I saw another hand head out the window with a cigarrette trapped between two fingers, and I was quite sure to have heard at least two unknown voices inside.

It was a shame, I thought, that Mr. McNice and his conceited blonde sweetheart hadn't invited me to their small soirée; after all, the three of us were all young professionals in an impersonal city (as all the capitals are), and it would be nice to have some sense of familiarity and good neighbourliness. They could've knocked on my door, said "hey neigbour how's it going do you want to pop in for a nice get together" and I would have answered "oh why not I have some fizzling wine in my fridge I can bring". Of course, as politeness dictates, they would kindly refuse, I would insist, and then they would finally allow me to bring it anyway. If such a scenario had happened, I wouldn't have dozed off on my couch because of boredom and very likely wouldn't have to undertake the tiresome task of doing my laundry.

As I heard them laughing at some random anecdote, I grabbed my red dress and hung it up. Oh, the red dress! The little, yet decent looking red dress that, according to the saleswoman at Cortefiel, was enough to give me the confidence of a femme fatale! I made the rather bold decision to wear it for the first time this Tuesday evening.

You see, I had a work dinner/cocktail, and it would be the first time I would encounter the apple of my eye in a environment that didn't have gruesome files of documents casually laying around the tables. His name was Fernando, a man who, when I was born, was already legally an adult, and that had eyes like two pools of ambar. Oh, I was smitten, like a highschooler, by his incredible wit, by his bohemian way of speaking and his wide vocabulary, and by the way he didn't give me the slightest attention. The saleswoman assured me, however, that with that dress, I would be all he could focus on. As a incredibly naive 25 year old, I bought, both the lie and the dress, at once.

Well, as it turns out, Fernando didn't even go. I was left all by my lonesome with three margaritas and a bunch of talks about the lawsuit that would make one of the other associates able to feed his family for three generations.

I took off the dress as soon as I steped home and washed it to see if I could also douse the huge amount of patethicness I spilled on myself that day.

Let me tell you, didn't quite work.

I was dragged off my meditative state about the ridiculousness of said situation by another burst of laughter from downstairs. Out of pure bitterness, I roled my eyes, and they were attracted to the window in my imediate direction. It was from the building in front of mine, about 25 meters away, and there was an old man staring out of his window. His stare suddenly caught mine and, for a moment, we both connected in our solitude. He smiled at me, I softly smiled back and, for a moment, I didn't feel so alone anymore.

My clothes were now ordely hung and I was ready to return inside. I shut the window and was swallowed by the deafening silence. I never cared much for the silence, but that evening... That evening, it just hurt. Resignedly, I opened the refrigerator door and pulled out the fizzling wine. I drank it greedly, from the bottleneck, in the living room, stretched out on the rug that I hadn't washed for God knows how long. In the background, I heard the muffled conversation of the neighbors below, the military walk of the neighbors above. I wondered if these thin walls allowed the neighbors to hear the immense noise of my absurd melancholy. I don't think so, but you never know.

February 29, 2020 18:43

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