It is seven in the morning. The sun barely grazes her fingers across the horizon’s bare back, and she kisses his shoulder as if she is afraid to wake him. Soon, though, he will open his eyes and rumble the lakes and rivers to life; he will start tsunamis; he will open reservoirs. The sun savors this loving silence until she can no longer.

The laundromat is quiet except for the metallic tinkling of the intercom. My mother has been alert (she’s always fueled by Dunkin’ Donuts caffeine) since 4:00 AM, heart thumping rapidly since she unsealed her eyes. The hairs on her arms stand upright like millions of masts, and her muscles are rolling oceans still tense from the fight she had with my father last night. She wrings her hands and shifts her feet.

I sit in a cold, plastic chair. A water bottle I had coerced from the vending machine sits unopened on the floor, condensing into a pool of water between my mother and me. Groggily, I watch the puddle shift and expand, crawling toward the chrome appliances.

My eyelids droop downward like old fabric and my head sinks forward as if I am about to fold in half. I think about the whirring of machinery; my little shoulders slump into the chair and my head bobs forward. I am slipping in and out of reality. The world is a washing machine. I can make out the faint tapping of my mother’s impatient foot, the jingling of the quarters in her purse. People fall and fold into each other; they tangle and unknot; the suds between them shift and squish. It is a slippery kind of relationship.

I wonder why the continents don’t slide in their places across frictionless planes. After all, the world’s people cling to one another with Dawn Soap arms. Their skins rub and slip, warm flesh against warm flesh, popping watery bubbles. And, after the sliding is over, after the fingers rake through sudsy hair, a new body tumbles into another, and He begins a new cycle.

Some people claim the world began with the Big Bang.

I say that God simply pushed a coin into a laundry mat.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
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