Well folks, I won last week's Finish That Thought so no 500 word story today! [Yes, that's right! Someone liked my story! You can read the winning piece here.] *ahem* Instead of the usual fresh snippet, I thought I would dig through my repertoire of old Flash Fiction pieces to share with ya'll. 1,500 words is still considered Flash, right?
Anyway, I wrote this piece my first year in college after a young man kept dropping his undergarments on me during a laundry room excursion. Sadly, we were both shy and so a bit of this piece really is fiction. [My husband is relieved that this incident didn't actually involve dialogue and frankly, so am I. ;)]
After you read through this, you should peruse the amazing stories I was honoured to read and judge over on Alissa's Finish That Thought #43! And maybe next week try your own hand at a little flash fiction, eh?
Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment, Sunday.
It was an average afternoon on an average Sunday at an average college campus in an average town. The skies were clear, the sun golden, the fragrant breeze permeated the cool air, lighthearted birds chirped in the nearby trees, the flowers in the fields by the sidewalks raised sleepy faces to greet the day, and I was hauling my overflowing bin of sullied garments towards the dilapidated shack called the laundry room.
Step. Stop. Pick up fallen underwear. Walk. Stop. Switch arms. Step. Step. Pause. Breathe…the cycle continued on and on, each agonizingly slow footstep bringing me nearer to the sizzling room where I would spend the next hour and a half of my life. Petite blonde girls danced by with their T-structured, foot-ball playing mammoths shuffling behind them carrying their loaded baskets under one arm. I stopped and set down my heavy burden to take a breather and watch in envy as the girls flitted along the sidewalk without a care. It almost made me wish I had dyed my hair blonde and joined the cheer-leading squad. Almost.
As I wallowed towards the leering structure of crumbling brick with my aching arms clutching my basket close, I was passed by yet even more people. Single guys carrying their small piles, girls helping each other with theirs…I sighed again and shifted the weight. The laughing sun engulfed my back in flickering flames as I toiled on.
Upon finally reaching my destination, dismay crept over me. Not a single washer was free! The rumble of the cackling machines and whirling clothes in the shrieking dryers gloated at my inconvenience. Frustrated, I dropped my basket on a nearby chair and wearily leaned against the cracking stucco wall. The preps chattered aimlessly, propped up on the knees of their Goliaths who were guffawing at each other sitting on top of the washers. A band geek sat in the corner with her flute, two nerds were comparing plastic lightsabers, and one lone guy sat by the doorway playing his guitar. Oh, the bliss of cacophony on a sacred Sunday morning! It was enough to drive one mad.
After not long of a wait, a washer in the far corner opened up and I was able to lug my cumbersome tote down the row. I have to admit, the laundry part itself isn’t so bad. I love the smell of detergent and fabric softeners and dryer sheets and the feel of warm clothes when you pull them out of the dryer. It’s just the grueling walk to get here that’s so unbearable. Fishing quarters out of my back pocket, I was surprised to find I had enough for two wash loads and the dryer. Too bad there weren’t two washers open. I shrugged and slipped the quarters into the yawning slot, opened the lid, and poured a cup of detergent into the machine. Just as I bent down to pick up the first handful of clothes, a pair of dirty grey socks landed by my hand.
I looked up into the alarmed grayish-blue eyes of a red-faced young man with his arms full of clothes. Smiling wryly, I plucked the socks out of my pile with my fingertips, draped them across his arm, and went back to sorting my clothes into the washer.
Completing that task, I immediately slammed the lid down and the washer started humming as the water began to fill inside. I groped around in my bag for my apple and half-read book (The Sword of Shannara, great book if you ever need anything to read) and comfortably settled myself on top of the washer to begin the half-hour wait.
For some reason, munching on apples always makes the time go by faster, and I found today to be no exception. It seemed I had just started into the gripping tale of the young elven hero when suddenly the washer began beeping for me to stop. Sighing, I set the book down and dropped the apple core into the trash can next to me.
One dryer on the other side of the room was open. Hallelujah! Grabbing my laundry basket, I dodged through the mobs of people, shoving some aside, and skidded to a stop by the machine, panting, as a guy came up behind me and threw a shirt into the open dryer.
“Excuse me, buddy, I got here first,” I hissed, reaching into the dryer to drag the offending piece of laundry out of my territory.
“My bad.” The guy took his shirt back and held up his hands in surrender, motioning to the appliance. “She’s all yours.”
Nodding my thanks, I reached into my bag to pull out a dryer sheet and flipped it into the machine to claim it. It only took a few seconds to collect my wet clothes and fight through the crowd back to the dryer. Huffing and puffing, I managed to heave the pile of clothes into the dryer and leaned against the door to close it. I fumbled around in my pocket for my quarters, found them, jammed them in, and pulled out my book again.
The rest of my time in that stifling room of contraptions was extremely uneventful-- until it came to clawing the hot clothes out of the dryer and into my tote. To my annoyance, a couple articles of clothing missed the basket completely and fell to the floor, and I could almost swear they were smirking at me. Well, fine, let them smirk, squatting down with aching legs was nothing compared to the extensive, merciless hike back to the dorms. I yanked the rest of my clothes out, stuffed them in with the rest, picked up the rebels, then buried my face into their fragrant warmth and sighed happily. Crazy, I know, but I love doing it.
It was then that something warm and clothy flopped onto my head and slid down my face. Startled, I peeled off the fabric only to find it was a pair of boxers. Behind me, someone gasped.
Amused, I turned my head slightly only to see those distressed grayish-blue eyes again.
“Is it a habit to drop your clothes around girls?” I laughed. The poor guy blushed. Or was “blush” even the right word? I watched in amazement as the redness spread from the tip of his head, to his large ears, down his neck in deep red splotches, and over his slightly muscular arms. I’m sure if he wasn’t wearing jeans, I would have seen it creep down to his feet as well. Immediately I felt guilty for laughing at him and handed his boxers over.
“I…um…would you mind…I-I-I,” he stuttered and fixed his gaze on the large tub in his arms. I smiled and got to my feet. He was kinda cute, with his large eyes, unruly chocolate hair, and ears Dumbo could be proud of. With not so much as a giggle, I ceremoniously laid his boxers on top of his pile.
“I’m really sorry about that…”
“You know you owe me now. That’s twice!” I teased. He shuffled his feet nervously and bit his lip.
“What do I owe you?” he asked carefully. I thought for a moment and an awful, devilishly sweet idea entered into my mind.
“It’s not that big of a job,” I paused to bite back a laugh “but I wouldn’t mind some help lugging this basket back to my room.”
He blinked a couple times, then set his tub down.
“Sure, I can do that…” his voice lowered into a mumble as he grasped my basket effortlessly by the hand grips and situated it on top of his load. Without so much as raising his head, he heaved both totes up and rested the rim of my basket under his chin.
“Where to, ma’am?”
I smiled to myself. He was getting cuter by the second-- nice eyes, shy personality, and now manners to boot.
“Oh, not too far. Just across the parking lot, down the road, and over the sports field."
"To the brick dorms on The Circle," I clarified to ease his anxiety. His features immediately looked relieved and he gave me a preciously awkward grin. He was quickly becoming the Dopey to my Snow White.
Or was it Bashful?
“S’long as you don’t expect me to carry you as well, I think I’ll manage.”
Delighted, I led the way out of the building, enjoying the stares I was getting as my bell-hop trailed behind me with his massive load. I stopped for a moment outside the door to let him catch up and then we set out towards my home-- me with my small bag swung over my shoulder and he hauling our totes. The sun beamed down on us as the birds frolicked and twittered in the trees and the sweet perfume of flowers filtered by us in the breeze.
It was just an average Sunday afternoon.