Standing in the hallway, a heavy sigh escapes my lips. The daunting pile of dirty laundry before me beckons. ‘Has it doubled in size since last night?’ I ponder for a moment, before recalling the self-made promise of the night before. ‘You will start the laundry as soon as you wake up!’ The litany starts to echo through my head, growing louder, with each passing second. Frowning, I look at my phone in hand, pressing the side button to display the time.
I wince, knowing I had already been awake for three hours… or so. I, admittedly, have been procrastinating. A giggling squeal, sounds of songs, and the boisterous jumping of my tiny son float out of the room nearby, interrupting my guilty thoughts. The wonderful melody of my offspring enjoying himself brought a smile to my face.
With such an adorable distraction, who could blame me?
I peek my head into the room, filling my eyes with his glowing face. Joy and love swell my heart before the annoying tickle in my head guilt’s me back to the task at hand.
‘If you had time to start writing…’
“Hush, you,” I tell my conscience, “I’m getting to it!”
Shaking off my self-pity, I square my shoulders and slip my phone into my pocket. With hands now empty, I approach the pile slowly. It didn’t appear so bad at second glance. Bending at the waist, I scoop up some of the dark clothes and mumble to myself about how kids magically make dirty things appear out of thin air. With arms overflowing, I start to shuffle my way towards the washer, grumbling still under my breath.
My feet suddenly decide to stop working as I detect movement from the lump I hold. My brow furrows as I inspect the fabrics closer. ‘I need more sleep,’ I muse, shaking my head. Lifting my foot to resume my course, I falter, as a long rough sleeve thrusts forth to encircle round my neck.
“Ack!” is my ‘intelligent’ response as I drop the mound of clothes, raising my hands to my throat. Desperate to unbind the fabric choking me, I begin to panic. My fingers touch the sleeve around my throat and I yank. No Good. I start running my fingers along where the cloth is wrapped, seeking to find a way to remove it. My foot hit the forgotten pile and I stumble into the wall, panic switching to fear. I was unsure of how long I had been fighting this demonic shirt, struggling to release the deathly hold. I feel a hot, gnawing pain start to pulse in my lungs as I yearn for the taste of fresh air.
Finally! My fingers slip in between my throat and the sleeve, ripping the offending garment off. Quickly, I bunch it up and, drawing my arm back past my head, I chuck it as far as it would go. The shirt unraveled on its journey. A writhing, contorting mass of waving cloth. I close my eyes, relief washing over me and drunk in that sweet, sweet air. The burning ache in my lungs starts to fade and I open my eyes. An eerie chill crept up my spine as I saw the disembodied clothing moving again. One long sleeve raised itself up to reach forward, dragging itself toward me, then the other. Once. Twice. Thrice. I shook myself out of my paralysis while, uninvited, dread filled my heart.
Where was my darling boy’s cherished laugh? I went to rush into the room and a cry of dismay burst forth past my lips. My eyes travel slowly down. Clothes! They had me held in place. Socks, pants, shirts, and the errant towels wound their way up my legs. I fight, in vain, against the clinging garments. ‘Do they have static-charged powers to cling so tightly?!’ the panicked thought shot into my head. I had to release myself! I had to rescue my little one from the evil blankets that must be getting nearer to their bite-sized prize. I was losing my battle, being pulled down into the gaping abyss of dirty laundry I had neglected.
Then, a happy squeal shocked me back to reality.
I stare, numb, at the still lit screen of my phone. The clothing, inanimate, was still in their pile. I rush to the door nearby and peek in. Relief surges through my body when I see my young child’s grinning face.
“Okay! Time to do this for real,” I state out loud, just as an unbidden thought pops in my head, ‘Or.. you could go write this down…”
-Jessica Mayo 11-1-2018