Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » General

E - Everyone

Loose Change and Assumptions

by Wallflower23

The hums of spinning washing machines and the tumble of the industrial dryers fill the laundromat with constant noise. The mother hauls another load of laundry from the washer and tosses it unceremoniously into the dryer. She fishes another dollar of quarters from the bottom of her wallet, slots the coins into the grooves of the payment apparatus, and pushes the mechanism back. The money chimes as it clinks together, falling into the machine. The dryer rumbles to life, beginning to spin. The mother huffs. She gathers the next pile of clothes, whites, and adjusts the diles on the washing machine.

“Mommy, I bored,” her eldest daughter whines. The mother glances back and sees the girl sitting amongst the corpses of her broken crayons. She catches a glimpse of the baby attempting to climb out of the stroller. She sighs as she unbuckles the baby and begins to bounce her on her hip.

“I know honey, but this is the last load, I promise,” she soothes. The mother digs into her purse with one hand and pulls out a tupperware of animal crackers. “How about a snack?” she asks. The daughter’s eyes light up and she makes grabby hands at the box, boredom already forgotten. She hands her daughter the snack and re-buckles the baby into the stroller.

The mother turns back to the washer. After checking the settings again she goes to retrieve the coins from her wallet. She digs around a bit, furrow growing in her brow as she is unable to locate enough quarters. Giving up on the fruitless search she swipes a couple of dollars from her cash. The woman turns to her daughter, “Stay here and watch your sister, I’m just going over there.” She points to the end of the aisle of machines where there is a change maker on the wall. “Then I’ll be right back.” The older daughter nods and then turns to studiously stare at the baby in the stroller. The mother smiles, she takes her big sister responsibilities so seriously, she thinks.

She hurries down the aisle and feeds her first dollar into the change maker. Four quarters clank into the tray at the bottom. The mother scoops them up, shoving them into her pockets and glances back at her girls. Still there.

“Scuse me, Mrs.,” A voice surprises her. She glances to her left and sees and older woman; short, white, with thick glasses and an expensive looking black coat.

“Sorry can I help you?” The mother replies.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I heard you speaking English with your kids,” the woman begins, “I’m looking for a new cleaning lady, one that speaks English, and I was wondering if you could take on another house.” The words hang in the air like the smoke from her husband's cigarettes.

The mother’s eyes go wide and her mouth hangs open slightly. She is taken aback. Shocked. She has no idea what to say. The sheer gall of this woman’s assumption about her has frozen her in her tracks. What is it about brown skin and black hair that screams ‘cleaning lady desperate for work?’ The silence is stretching out into awkwardness and she wants to say something but is at a loss for words.

“I pay generously if that's an issue,” the woman presses. She's looking at the mother with innocent eyes, completely unaware of the inner conflict that she has caused.

“Thanks for the offer, but I actually have a job managing at a hotel.” The mother replies tightly. The woman's face falls.

“Oh,” she says, “well if you know anyone...” she holds out her card. The mother takes it quickly, spins on her heal and trudges back to her children. She punches the quarters into the machine with more force than may be strictly necessary and takes a deep breath as the machine lurches to life. She turns to her children, their hair and skin lighter than hers.

God, she begs, tilting her head back and staring at one of the fluorescent light fixtures like it’s the face of her savior, please never make them deal with things like that. She wishes with every ounce of motherhood within her, to the lightbulb and the soapy water of the washing machines.

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
44 Reviews

Points: 2445
Reviews: 44

Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:36 am
Euphoria8 wrote a review...

Hey, Euphoria here! This story is a sad respresentation of the raging conflicts and discrimination in our society at the moment so voices like yours spreading this message through creative means like this is very much needed! For that, thank you so much <3

Like Stormblessed mentioned, it would be better if you stated our protagonist's color in the beginning somewhere.

The conversation between the protagonist and the short woman was riddled with tension, I was really able to imagine it actually happening in real life! So I think the facial gestures, the word choice and the description was perfect during that!

I encourage you to keep writing and keep spreading the good messages! Thank you for sharing and keep growing <3

Wallflower23 says...

Goodness Euphoria8 your positivity and kindness give me LIFE!

As I said to Stormblessed I think I will try to work that in sooner to make. the story a bit more cohesive and effective.

I'm glad the conversation came out alright, I always feel like dialogue is not my strongest ability in writing. And just so you know, this is based on a real story that happened to my mom. I am the baby she bounces for a while. So this story is really important to me in the discussion of the state of this country as I feel like it expresses, not only the racism and assumption made towards us as a group, but also the way society affects members of the group on the individual level.

Euphoria8 says...

Yayyyy stay alive and healthy then Wallflower! XD

If you truly feel that, then I suggest eavesdropping XD I know it sounds hilarious but it's effective! At the store, the mall, the hospital etc just kind of uncreepily listen to the way people speak and the words they use! (You can even analyze your family or friends in this case hehe)

First off, I applaud you for sharing such a personal moment here! I hope that your mom or anyone you know at all is not treated like this anymore, I really do because like you said, the way the society mistreats persons of color is truly saddening and downright disgusting. Here's to a discrimination-free and happier future <3

User avatar
84 Reviews

Points: 4616
Reviews: 84

Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:19 am
Stormblessed242 wrote a review...

Hello, Stormblessed here!
Wow, what a great little story! You delivered a strong message with a very well-written narrative.
There are a few ways to make this even better, but that's what I'm here for.

To start with, I think that you should have mentioned the mother's skin color a bit earlier in the story. Don't make a big deal about it, just have some sort of passing description.

There are a few odd parts in regards to punctuation, but if you go over it again you'll find them.

“Mommy, I bored,”

In reality, kids don't actually speak like that. Just put "I'm."

Other than those things I think this was great! Keep up the good writing!

Hope this helped!

Wallflower23 says...

Ciao Stormblessed242!

Is that name in reference to Brandon Sanderson's "Way of Kings"? If so I applaud your choice in literature.

Thank you for your comments! I do think that I may try to bring a reference to skin color into the beginning to make the story more effective. I will try to re-work that but IDK when I will have time!

On your other note, I did read something once that said children don't really speak like this but I decided to put it in anyway because I wanted to show how young the older daughter still is. Idk I'll still take it under consideration!

Thanks for the kind words, they mean the world!

Yes, the name is in reference to the Stormlight archive! I'm glad to find another fan!

We're all stories in the end.
— 11th Doctor