by Kathy Seifert
There was one other person in the laundromat. A young woman, about twenty-five and close to Ardene’s age, with wild hair that looked dreadlocked, but wasn’t. Her back was to Ardene and she was perusing the pock-marked bulletin board in the corner.
Ardene pushed aside several forlorn socks without partners, to hoist her garbage bag bursting with a month’s worth of dirty clothes on top of a table. She hated the laundromat and only came when she’s worn every piece of underwear, even the ones missing elastic.
The dryers rumbled and rolled. Buttons and zippers clacked and scraped against the inside of the steel drums. All of the washing machines were busy spinning colors of red, blue and green. Frothy suds pushed up against the washer windows filling the air with the scent of fake flowers. Ardene changed a five into coins and bought Tide and Bounce for a dollar a box from the machine called Suds Despenser.
With nothing to do but wait, she plunked down on a wooden bench, the width of a love seat. The slats dug into the back buttons of her spine, the shallow seat barely supported the weight of her heavy thighs. She watched with curiosity as the other woman who stood sturdy as a Douglas Fir, her head tilting this way and that to read the flyers advertising pet sitting and lawn grooming services.
Washers and dryers clung to the perimeter of the laundromat. A tight aisle separated the machines from a long row of tables where people folded their clean laundry and where Ardene had left her bag. She watched the woman pace around and around the small loop taking side-long glances at Ardene’s laundry bag and at Ardene herself before finally stopping at the table.
“Look at these poor things.” A sad sock dangled from her fingertips. “We outta help them find their partners.”
“It does look lonely,” Ardene agreed.
“My name’s Brianne,” she said and sat next to Ardene on the bench.
Their thighs touched and Ardene felt a shizzle in her body—weird and exciting and foreign.
“I’m Ardene.” She held out her hand and when Brianne shook it, they were both zapped by a static charge so powerful that Ardene had to suppress the urge to kiss her.
“I have an idea,” Brianne said. “You find a pen and I’ll get some paper and let’s play Match dot com.” Brianne took the laundromat rules from the bulletin board and ripped it into three-inch squares. They spent the next hour writing profiles for each sock.
Hi, my name is Sport Sock,
I’m looking for someone just like me. Stretchy and easy to fit. Someone who is willing to run off with me.
“Who even wears these things anymore?” Brianne held up a white tube that was worn to pink at the heel.
“My granddad would. He never throws anything out.” Ardene laughed as she watched Brianne pin it to the bulletin board with its profile.
Hi, my name is Baby Sock,
I am three years old. I miss having my sister (or brother) next to me. I am looking for a partner who is made of stars and huggy-bunnies.
“Awww, Baby, I hope you find your kin.” Brianne said, watching Ardene kiss the tiny yellow sock before pinning it on the bulletin board.
Hi, my name is Sparkly Sock,
I am looking for my one true love. Someone to make the leap and live high in the sky with me. Every evening while the rest of the world sleeps, we will sparkle our light on those who dare to look up.
“I hope you find your mate too, babe,” Ardene said, gently unrolling the glittery sock to admire it.
When Brianne wasn’t looking, Ardene took Sparkly Sock down and slipped it in her purse.
Years later, after Brianne was gone, Ardene would cradle the sock to her heart and look up at the night sky.
Kathy Seifert is a fiction and creative nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in several anthologies and most recently in Flash Flood’s National Flash Fiction Day. She lives and writes in Canmore, Alberta, Canada where she is currently completing a novella-in-flash.