The basket of laundry was still warm from the dryer. A wisp of hair had fallen into my eyes, and I had no free hand to brush it out. I did that little puffing thing girls do in situations like this, trying to get the hair off my face, knowing it was futile but doing it anyway while Karl watched.
"Youıre being ridiculous," I said, setting the basket of laundry down near the bed.
"Am I, Donna," he said, He leaned against the wall.
We have a routine with the laundry. Rehang the towels in the bathroom, put the sheets and blankets on the bed, and then fold the rest of the laundry, dumping it on the just-made bed and folding or hanging from there.
"I think so." I bent into the basket and rooted around until I found the fitted bottom sheet. A pair of my panties and one of his socks clung to it like ornaments. I flicked them back into the basket, put the sheet on the bed in a white heap.
I looked at Karl. He hadnıt moved. "Are you going to help me with this?" Even I could hear the irritation in my voice.
"I always do, donıt I?" He took his place across from me and waited for me to hand him a corner. It usually takes us several tries to get the sheet properly oriented so that it will go on the mattress. After the second or third try one of us makes a comment about how fitted sheets are a nuisance. Itıs a ritual.
I grunted an assent. "Here, take this," I said and handed him a corner. I said that it looked like it might fit.
"I donıt think so," Karl said, adding, "Heıs all you talk about any more." He put the corner of the sheet onto the corner of the mattress. So weıd got it right.
"What do you mean?" I asked, pretty sure I didnıt want to know the answer, and I turned to walk out of the room. "Iım getting some water. You want any?"
"Canıt you wait until we finish with this?"
"Yeah," I said, "sure." My diversion had worked. I tucked my corner under. Two down, two to go and then the top sheet, blankets and pillows.
"What I mean is that every thing that happens you bring around to him," he said. He walked to the head of the bed and stood there. I was supposed to move up to the head, too, so that we could put the top part of the sheet on. If he put his corner over first then it would leave the hardest part for me.
I walked up to my side, pulling the sheet along in my hand. "Oh?" I said, being as casual as I could.
"Do you have any idea how many times youıve mentioned him today? And itıs not even noon?" He tucked in his corner.
"Hey!" I said, "Canıt you wait for me?" This isnıt the way weıre supposed to be doing this, I bent down and wrestled with the sheet and mattress until Iıd got the corner under just the way it should be.
I went back to the basket and picked up the top sheet. Nothing was clinging to this one. Karl moved back to the foot of the bed. He said, "Itıs Al said that and Al said this and Al jumped over the candlestick."
The top sheet billowed as we put it on the bed. The trick was to get the same amount on either side of the bedenough but not too much. One good turn in bed gets all the covers, Al says. Is Al a blanket hog?
We pulled the sheet over the foot of the mattress far enough so that we could tuck it under. Next the blankets. "You donıt have to get sarcastic," I said.
"Thank you. Iım glad sarcasm is not required," he said. He made no move to lift the mattress though I was bent over and gripping it in my hand. He was looking at me intently, and I realized that he was staring down my shirt. "When did you stop wearing a bra?"
"I havenıt stopped. Iım just not wearing one now." I said. "Do you want to tuck this in with me?" But now I was standing and Iıd put my hands on my hips.
"What would Al think if he knew you werenıt wearing a bra?" he said.
"Iım not going to dignify that with an answer." I said, dignifying it with an answer. I didnıt like the direction this line of questioning was taking. "And itıs not exactly relevant is it? Itıs not like heıs a real threat." I said.
"Real enough," Karl said. "Isnıt he?"
Together we picked up the mattress and slid the sheet under it. Only the blankets and pillows to go. Finally, without talking we slipped the pillows into their cases and plopped them side by side, fluffy and perfect.
Weıd made our bed, and now all that was left for me was to lie in it.
About the author:
Miriam N. Kotzin teaches creative writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia and directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Carve, edifice WRECKED, Slow Trains, Dead Mule, SmokeLong Quarterly, Thieves Jargon and rumble among others. She also writes fiction collaboratively with Bill Turner. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Admit Two, Monkey Bicycle, Somewhat and the Beat. Check out her website at miriamkotzin.tripod.com. "