Discover more from Megan Clouse: PhotoStory
She wore her least favorite pair of socks, the green ones with the bizarre red pattern, gifted to her nine Christmases ago from her lonely Aunt Marge, who lives in a cluttered rent-controlled studio apartment in New York City. This particular pair came woven with a tight sense of unmentioned family obligation, and despite being ugly, she surmised they came in handy during her obligatory laundromat days when everything else was dirty.
It was winter 1993, and Dale was immensely tired of spending her Sundays at this laundromat. Its musty heat and outdated magazines with curled corners were bothersome enough, but the gloomy view out the pane windows added to the constant reminder of her drab life in this old drab town.
She grabbed the magazine that sat on top of the heap, and with a haphazard glaze, she flipped, flipped, flipped to the thump, thump, thump of the dryers behind her. An ad for denture cream, the start of an okra recipe with the ingredients list torn out, and then a picture of a woman smiling on a beach, flip, flip, flip - thump, thump, thump.
Dale didn’t believe in angels or the big man above, but a voice in her head shouted so loud her whole body startled in the white plastic chair. Her eyes darted around the fluorescent room to see if anyone else heard the voice, but everyone was monotonously folding and sorting. “Turn the page back to the woman!”
With a few quick flips back, there was the smiling woman on the beach, this time with a story headline she had not seen in her earlier daze, “Dreaming of a New Life: This Woman Shows You How”.
Thinking this was now some prank, Dale swiftly looked around the room a second time to see if anyone was now pointing and laughing. But of course, they weren’t. So, with a slight bit of suspicion, Dale hunched down closer, as if the article held some secret.
The woman had started a resort… yada yada good for her… in a tropical location… well must be nice… and is seeking to help train anyone who wants a fun, fresh, new start… beach cabins included in the salary.
Dale’s heart lifted up with a what-if hope for a moment but then slowly deflated back into the reality of the room when she remembered how all these stupid magazines were always years old. But one tiny voice spoke again and told her to look at the date on the cover, and sure enough, it was current!
A little gasp escaped through her smile. She carefully tore the story page out of the magazine, making especially sure to not tear the small print at the bottom with the woman’s contact information at Sunny Days Resort.
[photograph by me - story is fictional]
Note: On a snowy January day in 2019 we moved to Maine. Most of the large projects in our home were complete before we moved in, with the exception of the laundry room, so I became well versed in the local laundromat routine during those early days. It’s been nearly five years since I wrote the first paragraph of this story on my phone while I waited for the three dryers to finish tumbling; darks (thump), whites (thump), linens (thump). It’s been a story that I always thought would be fun to continue, so today, on a rainy grey afternoon, I finished Dale’s short story.
This little cottage belongs to a couple we know, and even though it’s in Maine and not in the tropics, it’s how I imagined Dale’s cottage would be when she arrived.
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