Your eyelids droop downward like old fabric and your head sinks forward as if you are about to fold in half. You are slipping in and out of reality. “The world is a washing machine,” your mother used to say. “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.”

The laundry mat pulses its yellow ceiling lights. An Asian woman clucks on the telephone in the back room, and her voice meshes with the metallic sound of the intercom. She is hushed. Her glass eyes flick toward your seat suspiciously: “Very good,” she says to the mouthpiece. “What is your price?”

You are folding your hands in your lap. You take deep breaths and stare at the washing machine in front of you. It is probably 1:00 am, but you aren’t counting the hours. You glance down at your swollen ankles, torn sneakers, blistered heels. You think that the price was clear.

You wonder why the continents don’t slide in their places across frictionless planes. After all, the world’s people hold each other with Dawn Soap arms. Their skins rub and slip, warm flesh against warm flesh. And, after the sliding is over, after the fingers rake through sudsy hair, a stranger’s body tumbles into another, and a new cycle begins.

Some people claim the world began with the Big Bang.

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


Written by Hannah Butcher

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