a Women Writers' Showcase

by Claire Thompson

It was the third time that day, the shirt had been in the wash. This time she turned up the temperature. The machine was on the rinse cycle, she brought the baby into the kitchen, so the sound of the machine could make him go to sleep, he liked to be around noise and bustle, just like his father.

She found the stain on his collar, it would be funny if it didn’t hurt so much. She’d suspected for months, before the baby.

“I love you this shape,” he’d said to her, hugging her at arms length.

“Then make love to me,” she said, pulling him closer. He pushed away from her, wiping a loose strand of hair from her face without meeting her eyes and placing his hand on her bump.

“We want to look after this little one, and you. Go and have a bath, pamper yourself,” he used the excuse she needed an early night, to go out with the boys.

“Won’t get much chance when the little one arrives,” he said, laughing as he went out the door. The little one didn’t make any difference, wetting the baby’s head lasted for more than a week and he came home later and later.

“You were asleep,” he said, “and I didn’t want to wake you,”

She leaned against the machine as it went into the spin, she had put all the shirts she could fit inside the machine this time, washing it all away. The machine was new and didn’t shudder too much as it whined and spun the washing dry. She smiled grimly, she was going to get something from all of this.

When the machine wound down at last, she didn’t bend down to empty and inspect her wash, she knew what she would find. She looked at the clock, any minute now, he’d come through the door, expecting dinner.

The key sounded in the lock.

“Hello,” he called. She didn’t move, waiting for him to join her in the kitchen. She watched his face as he tipped his head, smelling for dinner.

“Salad tonight?” he asked.

“Sorry, I’ve been busy washing your shirts,” she said.

“There’s only the one I am wearing and the one from the other night,” he said, looking from her to the machine.

“It had a stain,” she said, “on the collar,” She bent down and opened the machine, he stepped close and peered inside, reaching inside to retrieve a shirt. It was bright pink.

“What have you done?” he said, “have you gone mad?”

“Took me ages to find a dye to match the lipstick,” she said, “seemed a pity to just do the one, I thought you’d like some more to match.”

Claire says:  I live in Dorset, England, between the New Forest and the sea. I enjoy a little black humour in my stories but I think my characters have yet to see the funny side.  Contact Claire.