Off the Rack

Lawrence University Creative Writing Club flash fiction event winner

Every time you pass my door to get to the laundry room I pause – like time doesn’t exist – and hang, expectantly waiting for you. I wish you would just open the door. It’s so dark in here. I’ve been here so long I’m suffocating.

All the other (lesser) versions of me talk nonstop about how they’ll be next. Ones with checkered patterns or stripes. Heavy ones, light ones. Ones with tears and some with none – they’re the ones that talk the most. They’ve either been taken once or twice or never before, and they still talk shit. Especially towards me, because I’m your favorite. I don’t hold it against them, I could never stay in here as long as they have. Usually, when we’re done together, you put me smack in the middle of all of them, in the most reachable spot for the next day. The shelf above is stacked with others, mostly thin ones or ones with hoods that you can easily pull over. I try to stretch, but my sleeves are tightly wedged between two thick ones. I wish you could relieve me from thisdiscomfort. 

She’ll be back

One day soon

Unsettled, I wait

Linger in deteriorating          silence

Every day I daydream of how it was before summer. Hear the squeak of the beaten-up nob as you lightly tug open the wooden door. Watch your dark gure as you switch on the warm closet light, illuminating your breathtaking curves. Your hair is tied up in a curly bun, scarf hanging loosely around your slender neck. You only come when you’re cold. It’s not fair. You should come more often. I love the games you play. The way your eyes scan the rack of other contestants. Passing me several times before I see your full lips curl up at the corner and lock your eyes on my collar. You shrug and reach for me. I want that feeling again. I want to feel your fingers pull me o this rack.

I miss the fresh winter air and the smell of your hair on my collar. The way you feel in my sleeves – you fill me up. I love when you’re inside me, wrap me around you. Envelop me in your space, like no one else. It’s always us. I’m always there. I wait for you, and you come, every morning. When we reach the end of the day together you slip me off, grab that same skinny metal hanger, and slide the insides of my shoulders against the cool frame. Squeezing me back into the line of others, I immediately miss you when you pull away. With one last short glance, you flip the switch and shut the door. Leaving me in growing darkness, I sink into the wall –just a few more hours and you’ll be back. But you didn’t come for a whole three seasons. 

Hearing your footsteps this morning, I foolishly hope again that you’ll come. The familiar sound of your clunky brown boots lls the stale air – the clearest sign of winter. Today is different. I hear the door creak open and watch your ringlled ngers feel around for the switch on the side of the wall. This is it, it’s time.But when the spotty light flickers on, there’s a new one of us draped over your shoulders. She looks just like me, with brighter colors and a few more pockets. Sliding here, you grab a new hanger and slip her right next to me. Without looking twice, you turn and shut the door, filling our little room with darkness once more.

“Who the fuck are you?”