Laundry Day

Laurie slams the iron down on the crumpled collar, promising herself to iron at least three more items of clothing before the baby wakes up. What if Lisa leaves her husband and takes the bus to New York….. Her mind drifts off until the scent of scorched cotton alerts her to the brown triangle on the sleeve of her husband’s last white shirt. “God damn it.” She throws the shirt on the floor and runs back to her desk, head down, black scrawls spilling across the yellow lined paper: Lisa stares out of the bus window as the kindergarten playground, where she had left her child that morning, rolls out of sight…..

Suddenly a piercing scream wrenches her away from her frantic scribbling. The crib is empty. The baby lies on the laundry room floor next to the toppled ironing board and still steaming iron, face red as raw meat, wailing in agony as a crimson triangle blooms on his chubby thigh. “Oh my god. Oh my god. What do I do? What do I do? Bouncing the hysterical child in her arms, she punches in Larry’s number with her thumb, and yells: “Where the hell is the hospital in this burg?” “Calm down Laurie. Just call 911. I’ll meet you in the emergency room.”

She doesn’t hear the siren. Piercing cries claw at her heart, flood her ears, rip her skin as she drowns in her son’s pain. Then suddenly it stopped. Leg bandaged, lolli pop in fat fist, wisps of blond hair stuck to sticky cheeks, he looks up her and grins. She clenches the steering wheel, gulps back the nausea and drives home. Forty years later you can still see the scars.

Marguerite Welch 2018