It was official. Clara was down to her last black camisole and one pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear — forest green Christmas ones that boasted the slogan “HE SEES U WHEN UR TWEETING” in white glitter across the ass, ones she bought ironically as the fifth set in a 5-for-$20 deal when the PEOTUS was still a joke and not, you know, PEOTUS, that she can’t quite bring herself to step into out of a vague sense of complicity. It was time to do laundry.
Clara crammed the contents of her hamper into an IKEA bag, the straggler socks consigned to an Apple Store sack, picked up hypoallergenic detergent and trudged downstairs. Past a dollar store with spools of area rugs on spindles, past the darkened pastry shop, the perpetually empty Sprint store blaring reggaeton, to the laundromat.
Fishing her laundry card out of her wallet — this laundromat denied you even the small pleasure of clinking quarters into slots, metallic clunk an echo of childhood arcades — she shoved armfuls of wadded black into the industrial-sized washer. (One advantage to being a garbage adult quasi-goth is that you only have to separate your loads once per fiscal quarter.) Sloshed detergent, squashed buttons, warm cycle, 27 minutes.
The fluorescent lights spasmed, telenovelas blared from TVs suspended precariously in corners. She tried to feed her laundry card into a listing off-brand pinball, retrieved a pink paisley bear from a claw machine populated by off-brand beanie babies and a few plastic rings encased in second-order plastic orbs, paid a dollar for a cigarette and another entrepreneurially-commendable dollar for a match from a bearded man who may or may not have been doing laundry at all on the stoop.
27 minutes thus occupied, Clara gathered damp laundry, the half-warmed half-chilled clamminess of a corpse, into the broad-hulled cart, wheeled it pulled left with wobbly southwest wheel to the vast dryers, shoveled it in. Punching in serial 5 minute increments, mashing thumb on old unwilling button, only registering the pressure about 30% of the time. The dryer spun. Black whorl with occasional flash of hot pink or green sportsbra, galactic spin. Clara watched lazily, the clockwise tumble lulling, vaguely dreading the fold, when she saw a new button flashing on the console.
Fluorescents guttered in iambic infinity, black spun, blinking red light. Bored, impatient, transfixed, she rose on sockless sneakered feet and pushed it. It registered at first fingerprint.
Counterclockwise heat. Fluorescent light flickers in trochee. Clara unloads damp bundles into wire cart, walks to washer, siphons detergent. Picks up a bricky burnt Partliament butt and secretes it into pocket. Crams a crumpled bear back into to cool metal game chute. Walks past Sprint, donut, dollar. Elevator up.
Clara has to do laundry, she’s down to one black camisole.