A GOOD DRYING DAY • by Simon Kewin

Jenny pegged out the last of the clothes and stooped to pick up the empty laundry basket from the grass. The sun blazed hot on the top of her head as she walked back inside, but the wind blew too, sending the wet clothes flapping and snapping.

A good drying day.

She went upstairs and began going through the drawers in each of the three bedrooms. From each she picked out a selection of carefully ironed tee-shirts, skirts, jeans, socks and underwear. She tossed everything into the basket. It was summer now, hot, so there would be no sweaters or fleeces.

When she had the basket full, she lugged it back downstairs to the utility room, sorted the clothes into piles, then loaded the whites into the machine. She might be able to get another load out this afternoon if the first lot dried in time.

While the machine rumbled and whirred, she laid the table for five and served up five bowls of the stew she’d made earlier. They all loved her stew. She cleared everything away and, soon, the dishwasher added its thrum to that of the washing-machine.

A pile of ironing teetered on the worktop in the utility room. She carried it into the lounge so she could watch TV as she worked. While she waited for the iron to heat up she picked up the photograph on the mantelpiece.

She remembered that trip to the seaside vividly. Remembered the little things mainly. Trying to rub sun-block into Jenny’s sand-coated calves without abrading her delicate skin. Carrying ice-creams that dripped and dribbled down her hands. She stood there in the middle of the group, Dan behind her, her arms around Jenny, Josie and Sam. Everyone grinned for the kind stranger who’d agreed to take their picture.

The iron ticked as it heated up, tutting at her inactivity. In the glass covering the picture she could see her own dim reflection, overlaying the seaside scene. It was hard to understand that the two women were the same person. Hard to understand any of it. Something so mundane as a lorry, crashing through the barriers, leaving her unscathed, the others not. Tears blurred her eyes.

She dried her eyes with the palms of her hands. A good drying day. This was no good. She began to work her way through the pile of clothes so she could fill up the drawers again in each of the three bedrooms.

Simon Kewin writes fiction, poetry and computer software, although usually not at the same time. His fiction and poetry has appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. He lives in the UK with Alison and their two daughters Eleanor and Rose.

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