“Well, I don’t wanna catch the bus to the gym. Not like this.”
I stunk. Rob did too, and our sweet little Candace tried to pretend that nothing was wrong. In fact, she didn’t know much of what happened at all. My stupid half-siblings left mum penniless and she swore that she’d make sure that we’d get our share of dad’s money. Comforting thought except I’m broke right now! I can’t make rent and I have a kid to feed.
But hey, if the closest place in town was a laundromat, then we were going to clean up at a laundromat.
Ugh, is this really where poor people did their laundry? I couldn’t wait to go back to what I was used to.
I didn’t know where Rob learned how to clean himself at a sink and I was too afraid to ask. But soon we were…less filthy. Not fresh but not smelling like a dumpster either.
He and Candace were finishing up and I guess I got curious about this laundromat. I rarely even did my own laundry. Dad had maids growing up and didn’t believe in my mum or my brother or myself doing chores. His eldest son/my good half-brother, sure. He may have had to clean coffee and period stains out of my white pants.
“Oh my god, they make it look so easy!” It really looked like it was just dumping clothes into the washing machine and shooting the breeze with strangers.
That wasn’t going to help me! I still needed my apartment back, and a warm meal for my daughter. And worst of all, I had been wearing the same shirt for days.
The lady in front of me left a pile of clothing on the floor. It looked fresh from the dryer and had something for everyone. For her and a husband and a bunch of daughters.
She was talking to some other lady and not minding her laundry at all. Damn, I wanted clean clothes. Like a lot. Even Rob and Candace would have to accept it. They were still warm from the dryer. I could feel it on my feet.
“Now sweetheart, mum got these from a kind lady out there,” I said to Candace. “Honest to God, I did.” Rob sighed in back of me.
“Is this like when Auntie Tess gave me birthday presents last year?” Yikes. This kid was too smart…but I had to contain myself. It was why I loved her.
“Shush, do you want clean clothes or not?”
I nudged Rob in the arm. “You too. You smell like an old sock.”
“I thought you liked that about me, darling,” he said, with a chuckle. I nudged him harder.
“She won’t miss it.”
“Gotta admit, we look snazzy,” said Rob. He let his hair down from his bun while I put mine up. I guess that lady left a hair clip in her pocket and it survived the dryer. Her stuff was…interesting. It was washed-out and torn and bohemian but I couldn’t help but like it. My mum dressed in dark neutrals all the time and would be appalled, but she’d also be appalled at me stealing clothes.
“Candace, any thoughts?”
I thought I looked pretty amazing for my age and place in life. I felt like I was the free young adult I never got to truly be. I loved Rob and Candace but they held me down in odd ways ever since I was 18.
“Come on Margo, you’re always lovely,” he said.
“Yes, but you know how kids are,” I told him. “They’re…honest.”
“Well, it’s weird,” said Candace. She cocked her head looking at us.
“What, why?” I asked. My voice was sharp. I expected her to be honestly nice to us.
“You never wear a dress, mum!”
“No, I…you must remember us getting married, right?” No, I didn’t think that. She wasn’t even six months old.
“And I think I found a shirt I like better,” said Rob.
Once he said that, I did too.
“Ol’ Margo’s still got it, don’t I?” I posed in front of Rob in…a crop top. I wore one a little like that when I met him. Then he got me pregnant, but that year of change and dread was in the past. I didn’t even get stretch marks. I–
“Oh…dear,” he said.
“You’re beautiful…but we can’t wear stuff like that anymore,” he said. “You don’t want my hairy fat belly out.”
“I…I’m not that hairy. I just need a better top. Puff sleeves aren’t my thing.” I found another one immediately, and in white.
“I know you want me to take that back” he said.
“I look like a whale, don’t I?” That woman had to be twice my age or something. What was she doing with all these tied and cropped shirts? Who even wore them that much?
“No…maybe we should call your brother–”
“No! Don’t you know how embarrassed they are by you, by me?!”
“And now I’m homeless and shapeless and no one’s helping.”
“Sorry sweetheart…it doesn’t matter what they think. And your mum still loves us. What would she want you to do?”
I had to think. She had been poor once too, and she loved my dad and her kids with him. She almost never raised her voice.
And I bet there was a point in her life when she didn’t care how much gross motherly skin she showed.
“Okay, there has to be something else to wear in here.”
It turned out that the lady had a flowing tank top in her laundry pile too. I liked the color, and telling Candace to see if anyone left some new shoes in the laundromat. And she found a fabric headband in the pile too, which was also worth trying. I never wore my hair up so it just left me curious. Rob found the sweatpants he wanted.
And they were cute. I wanted to tell him to save his phone battery, we’re homeless. But Candace wanted a selfie with her dad and she was a tough kid to say no to.
“I’m sorry about the yelling, you guys,” I said. “I think we’ll pull through. We’re tough.”
And I actually believed myself for once. I didn’t remember the last time I truly did. It was a long time ago, before dad got sick again.
“All’s forgiven,” said Rob. “And you’re still the cutest girl on the block.”
“And you’re the best hairy oaf I’ll ever meet,” I said, stroking my finger along the open part of his shirt.
I got up on my tip-toes to give him a kiss.
“Oh, dad, I told the lady that we really thankful she gave us those clothes!” said Candace. I didn’t even believe my eyes when I saw that hag walking through the bathroom doors.
A/N: fun misc. stuff I figured out:
- I can’t figure out how to get laundry to work on community lots. So maybe we’re out of luck for a true laundromat.
- At least one person wanted a look at CAS content before buying the pack. Welp, you got it!
- Toddlers apparently don’t need laundry and got zero clothes. I forgot to show off one other female blouse (not a crop top though, phew!)