• Fearsome Critters

Doing Laundry — Jessica Wadleigh

*TOP CONTRIBUTOR IN NONFICTION, VOLUME TWO, 2019*

In the real world, I have a new crush. I’m pulling the fitted sheet off my bed.


In my head, I see you and me sitting on your balcony, smoking a joint, staying outside even though we’re both getting cold. I ask if you want music and you say that might be nice. I hope the indie rock leaking out of my phone’s tinny speaker isn’t too vulnerable. We’re quiet while the music takes the space that insects, passing cars and tiny snores from your dog once filled.


I’m really impressed with myself when I pull the clean fitted sheet from one corner to the next and realize I put it on properly on the first try.


I imagine us watching the first stars coming out. Or maybe they’re satellites. I ask you if you make a wish on a satellite if it comes true just the same and you tell me that the only thing that matters is that the wish is true in your heart. I rest my head on your shoulder and tell you that I hope you’re right. Your left arm pulls me closer.


I know I should also wash the pillowcases but I already have so much laundry to do. I toss four pillows toward the head of the bed even though I only use two.


I leave soon but you invite me back a few days later. You dance in the kitchen as you bring me celery to chop. I put my hand on your lower back when you call me over to taste the sauce. A horizontal line of water soaks into my shirt when I back into the sink during our first kiss.


I shake out the brown knit blanket, the one I keep on the bottom because the cat’s nails get snagged in it, and watch cat hair and my own fill the air.


That night, we cuddle on your couch. I knew when I first met you that you’d be the big spoon. I rest my head on your collar bone. I give you soft kisses on your neck and your fingers lift my chin to your mouth. You hold me and I fall asleep and you don’t wake me. In the morning, you’ve got my drool on your shirt, but you don’t seem to mind.


It’s fall and getting colder at night, so I shake out one, two, three more blankets and layer them all over the checkerboard-patterned fitted sheet.


We talk about me having a dick and it’s new to you, but you like me and you’re not against trying. You tell your dog he’s not invited as you pull him out of your bedroom by his red collar. When you get back, I’m in your bed with the covers pulled to my chin. You straddle me and tug at them and I pretend to resist but quickly give in. Your head drops down and you start kissing my bare chest.


Even shaken, there’s still a ton of cat hair on the comforter. I start lint rolling from the foot of the bed.


We kiss frantically. My hands move over your small breasts, the warm skin of your torso, tug at your pants. You pull them off and climb under the blankets with me. Your body is warm against mine. Your black-and-blue-striped thong is already wet.


Of course the cat jumps up and flops into the middle of the bed at precisely the moment I set the lint roller back on the dresser. Of course.


Your hand finds my hard cock pushing at the fabric of my underwear, also wet. Uncertain fingers grip gingerly and your nervousness comes through when you whisper that you’re not sure what to do. I tell you don’t worry as I slip a finger inside you and you let go as your back arches. I climb down your body and kiss your inner thigh.


I pick the cat up. She always cries when I lift her. I ask her what I’m going to do with her while I scratch her tiny gray head.


My fingers are working faster and my tongue is rolling from labia to clit to labia. A foot of my hair is wrapped around your fist because I forgot a hair tie. You pull my hair harder and harder as you get closer. I can barely move my fingers inside you when you cum.


I set the cat back down on the bed. She waits until my back is turned toward the laundry to swipe at me.


You keep your hand in my hair and pull me to your mouth. We kiss and my dick grazes against your pussy. I glance down and ask you if we can try and you nod and watch as I position myself. You’re very wet and I slide in easily. I go slowly, feeling you across every inch, in my nipples, in my heart, in an electric current coursing head-to-toe. My eyes meet yours and I can see you aren’t into it.


I unsnag one of the cat’s claws from my jeans and put the dirty fitted sheet into my overflowing laundry bag.


You tell me after I pull out that it just isn’t for you, that you hoped it would work, that I’m so great and you’re just so sorry. I tell you I understand, that I appreciate you trying, that you’re great too and you have nothing to apologize for. You haven’t seen my tears in the darkness yet and I don’t want you to. I try to keep my sobbing to a whimper hopefully not audible over the volume of your bathroom fan. We pretend to sleep and both decide the next day that we should probably take a break from each other for a while.


On my bed, imagined tears become real.