Her distorted face merged with the streaks of soapy foam and the stained purple jacket, until it was just one melting pot of color. Even her own muddy brown eyes were lost in the cycle. The hum of the washer filled the corners of the desolate laundromat. She continued to watch her reflection dissolve and twist with the water. Ten minutes remained on the timer.
The humidity of the laundromat stuck to her skin, weighing her body down to the stiff bench she sat on. She wanted to stand under a running faucet and scrub at her skin until it was pink and raw of any faults. For a moment, she considered climbing into the washer so the floral disinfectant soap would fill her mouth and clean her insides.
A warm hand reached out and rested on her shoulder. It firmly pressed against her body, anchoring her to the seat. She stared straight ahead, the long white talons of her mother’s nails in her peripheral vision.
“It’ll be alright, Samantha.” Her tenacious grip grew tighter against her shoulder.
Samantha glanced over her mother’s nails and noticed the flecks of red as small as a needle point against the stark white paint. It stood out like a coffee stain on a t-shirt to her but would be unnoticeable to any other eye. She whipped her head back around to face the washer door.
Her mother reluctantly loosened her grip and dropped her hand back to her side.
Samantha clasped her hands together as if in prayer and watched as the clothes fell over one another. A pair of jeans. A blue blouse adorned with sleek black buttons on the front. Then the purple jacket broke through, the red stains peeking out before being overshadowed by another article of clothing. Her Dad had bought it for her, three years before the local mall closed. She had worn it every day to school and wore out the zipper so fast he had to replace it with a new one.
She didn’t think she could wear it ever again now. The stains would never wash out, even if she scrubbed at it with a sponge. His blood would still be on it.
She had tried to convince herself it was just paint, a spill from a silly art project. When she blinked, the still image of bodies intertwined on a mattress proved otherwise. She would never forget the lady’s blonde hair splayed out on the bed, like golden silk. And the glint of the knife in her dad’s back, with her mother’s nails wrapped around the handle. The image of their slack-jawed expressions pressed against the bed was forever stuck behind her eyelids.
The shrill sound of sirens could be heard off in the distance, just beyond the deserted parking lot. Samantha unlocked her hands from their death grip on each other and hung her head forward. Her mother’s unshakeable hand reached out and grasped onto her shoulder again. She looked toward the washer door, at the blinking orange light. The buzzer had gone off amidst the sound of the sirens.
The load was finished.
Please share this to give it maximum distribution. Our contributors’ only pay is exposure.
If you would like to be part of The Chamber Magazine family, follow this link to the submissions guidelines. If you like more mainstream stories and poems with a rural setting and addressing rural themes, you may also want to check out Rural Fiction Magazine.