Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Kim Tennant
Today is wash day and since I am the oldest and tall enough to jump up and snag the clothes line, I hang the laundry for Mother. Sister helps because she is the second girl of six kids. Between us sits a wicker basket piled high as my chest and Sister's chin. We take turns pulling wet shirts, socks, underwear, and towels from the basket, giving each a sharp snap to straighten wrinkles like Mother taught us, and clipping them to the line with wooden clothes pins as dry as an old woman's skin.
Sister is quick to cluck her tongue, "Tsk-tsk," like Mother, when she spies a solitary sock limply hanging on the line. It is good to hang sock pairs, shirts next, followed by pants, on the first and second lines, and the towels on the third line to make folding the dry laundry easier. Besides, we like putting things in order and watching the pretty colors flapping in the breeze.
The sun sears the tops of our shoulders and arms as we pin the towels on the third line and slide the makeshift canvas bag suspended by a clothes hanger ahead of us, listening to its raspy metal song. Sometimes we race to see who can hang laundry the fastest; other times we pause to laugh at Mother's intimate things or the boys' underwear. One time Sister held up Mother's brassiere, which made us double up in laughter, which was abruptly ended by a sharp word from Mother standing at the back door.
In the bottom of the basket lie the bed sheets, the most difficult to hang. We manage to throw the heavy wet bulk onto the fourth line and move to opposite ends, pulling the sheet until it is doubled evenly and taut over the line as the familiar scent of bleach wafts around us and the cool, wet fabric caresses our faces and hands.
Almost brushing the grass, the sheets sway heavily and weigh down the clothesline. The fabric will dry quickly, and soon the sheets will billow and roll along the line. That's when we play. Sneaking between the sheets, we sometimes pretend they are a ship's sails filling with the salt-laden breeze and we are pirates braving the ocean. Other times we run in circles around the sheets to hide from each other, careful not to leave a dirt mark on the clean wash, which would most assuredly bring Mother's displeasure. Today, we spin ourselves in the pristine sheets, giggling and laughing, so that we are wrapped tightly like cocoons and lose our sense of direction and ability to unravel ourselves.
A muddy ball whizzes past my head and smacks the pristine white sheet, leaving an ugly brown splatter. I remember our brothers are playing ball nearby. "Now you're in for it. I'm telling!" I yell, and turn toward where the ball was thrown. The boys have disappeared.
Kim Tennant is a grandmother, Reiki Master, writer and artist. She has self-published and illustrated two children's books.
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