14 April 2009

Pamela Twining: Laundry Day

The door wasn’t locked. In fact, it wasn’t even closed, as Ellen discovered when she kicked it hard with her foot, hoping to get one of the kids to come open it for her. It swung open, creaking eerily, into the empty foyer. The silence that followed was palpable. An apartment where three children live is never silent.

Ellen crossed the foyer cautiously, still carrying the heavily loaded basket of clean, folded clothes. The quiet grew, becoming a living thing that seemed to swallow everything, consuming birdsong, engine noise from the road outside, even the sound of her breath. A sharp gasp at the sight that met her eyes momentarily punctured that bubble of silence.

The living room was a disaster. The desk had been rifled through, papers and knick-knacks scattered about, a lamp knocked over, the TV, the computer and even the wooden box containing her mother’s wedding silver, gone! Wires hung from the wall like mindless tentacles, disconnected from the appliances they served. And, OH GOD! the sturdy body of Jesse, her 9 year old son, was lying half on, half off the couch, his head tilted at an unnatural angle. He seemed shrunken somehow, and his pale skin had a bluish tinge.

In shock, she turned to her right; her daughter, Miriela, aged 11, sprawled on the dining room floor, beneath an overturned chair, blood pooled beneath her head from a hideous gash above her left eye. Farther on, in the hallway, was her youngest, Christopher, hardly more than a baby, perhaps caught in the act of running from his assailant. He lay all askew, crumpled like a marionette dropped by a careless child, one little shoe cast off, resting on it’s side near his body.

As if in a daze, she walked slowly down the hall towards the bedrooms. Christopher almost seemed to twitch as she passed by, but she appeared to be in some altered state, oblivious to the children or to any of her surroundings. Ellen set the basket down on the bed. The silence lengthened.

Then, incredibly, there was the sound of humming, a minor key, no-name tune, and drawers being opened and closed, as the clothes were put away.

From the dining room, came a loud Thud! and a staccato of footsteps. Miriela ran from the room, her face dripping with Vampire Gore.

“Darn it, Chrissy! I TOLD you she’d guess if you didn’t keep perfectly still!”“I did, M’wela! I didn’t move at all, not even a tip of my toe!”

A smaller Thump!, this time from the living room, and here came Jesse yelling, “You did too, Chris! You’re such a baby!”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

Before the pummeling started, Ellen peered around the corner from the bedroom door. “It was much better than last year, when y’all put salt in the sugar bowl and sugar in the salt shaker! Though, it was worth something to see your father’s face, when he took a sip of his coffee.” She laughed at the memory. “Now, you children clean up this mess and put those things back where they belong, before Daddy gets home! I swear; I don’t even know how you managed to get Nana’s silver down from the sideboard or carry those heavy things. You are all very lucky nothing got broken!”

Chorus: “Awwwwww, Mom!” The children rumbled together, down the hall towards the bathroom, to wash their faces. Miriela was a genius with make up.

“Safe.....until next April,” Ellen sighed, turning back to the bedroom, to finish putting away the laundry.


  1. WOW!

    I loved it.

    I guessed that someone was playing a prank on the MC but I was really afraid it would go the way of Romeo & Juliet and that the Mom would be fooled and off herself.

    It was punchy and descriptive.

    I was captivated :>

  2. I was surprised it was a trick. When the youngest moved I thought maybe she was in such shock that she didn't notice, but I like the way you incorporated the "almost twitch." I'm impressed the kids could move all the heavy appliances!

  3. Thanks, ASC! I really appreciate the positive feedback!

    Melanie, I agree about the appliances; it was a worry. But Miriela is extremely determined and Jesse is a sturdy lad, so I decided that, given enough time (several laundry loads), they could accomplish it. I'm glad you were surprised; I was hoping.....

  4. Wow.. wow.. wow.. This is some dark stuff!! (and I love dark stuff). I thought the first half was incredibly well written. It drew me in and really made me wonder what the heck was going on. I especially loved the part when you were describing what she saw in the living room.

    The second half had such a different feel to it. And, the transition between these two halves didn't work for me. It felt abrupt and somehow wrong that the mother just shrugged off the morbid April Fool's day prank.

    Overall.. GREAT writing. :-)

  5. I got the definite impression that this mother had seen it all, and any frayed nerves she ever possessed had long ago been pared away by her brood of little devils. The way the children spoke to each other had a very real ring to it, and your descriptions of the children and the 'damage' to them and the room was very good.

  6. Nice, what a gruesome April Fool's joke for kids to play on their mama!

  7. Wow. I actually held my breath during the whole first part of this. There I was thinking that the poor woman was in utter shock and then you pulled out the April Fools gag aspect.

    WELL DONE! I tell you, it's not easy to get me to hold my breath like that while I'm reading.

    Not a single nitpick either. w00t!

  8. OK, that was so unfair!! I had a pit in my stomach at the beginning, thinking something sinister was going on (but sort of wondering where the fool theme came in) - then I found it. Guess the joke's on me!

    Good job!

  9. Thank you all so much for the comments and crits! I haven't shared my stuff in so long, I was a bit afraid to. I am so glad that the fool worked; it was what I was going for...

    Kat, sorry for the transition. Your point is taken. Sometimes I find that part difficult, when the story is unfolding and all of a sudden, the word limit factor kicks in... I'll work on that.

    I'm looking forward to reading everyone's new pieces....


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