Worn With Years

Suze dropped the black sack of Grandpa’s clothes next to an empty machine, fishing for coins in her pocket. She’d rather spend four dollars getting the old clothes clean than buying lollies on the way back from the salvo’s. Grandma’s volunteering stories about smelly garments dumped at her charity shop remained with her. It would be just rude to do that with Grandpa’s things.

Slowly she deposited the last sad reminders of Grandpa into the basin. Blue pinstriped Sunday shirts, once crisply ironed, now creased. Daggy white singlets, yolk-stained and formless. Handkerchiefs, little silk squares. Wooly football hats. A Disneyland T-shirt she’d insisted Mum buy him last year. It looked and smelled unworn. Striped pyjamas, mostly falling apart. The last pair, from hospital, hadn’t even made it to the bag. Grandpa’s brown slippers. Who’d want those? She set them aside.

Finally, at the bottom, Grandpa’s Lucky Jeans. The ones he refused to ever wash. Suze smiled, even while holding them at arm’s length. When Grandpa’s memory was going, he’d often enlist her to find where he’d hidden his jeans from the housekeepers at the old folks’ home. The nurses had complained, but Suze didn’t mind. It was Grandpa’s little game, his way of fighting back.

“Don’t forget my lucky jeans!” he’d prompt her.

“Why are they lucky, Grandpa?”

He’d shrug, and smile wistfully. “I forgot. They just are.”

Suze smiled now. She checked the pockets automatically for tissues. None, of course. But there was something… She pulled out a piece of folded paper, a receipt perhaps. Frowning, Suze pushed the jeans in the washer, inserted powder and coins, then sat down to figure out the faded ink.

An old Lottery ticket, worn with years. Only one part circled: the date. Her birthday.

Oh, Grandpa.

The washing tumbled. Her tears fell.

Folded jeans piled side by side on a tabletop.
Image: Secondhand clothing, unattributed, Piqsels. Header Image: Laundromat, unattributed, Piqsels.

This story was inspired by the flash fiction prompt: ‘Write a short story (100-300 words) featuring a lottery ticket and a laundromat’ over on Reddit: Writing Prompts, the writing community where I practise poetry and prose several times a week.

Want to write but don’t know what to write? Want to practice a specific genre, write to constraints, be inspired by an image, or simply stimulate the imagination? Head on over, see if something takes your fancy.

I am a member of this community, not a moderator or in any way financially linked. I simply like using prompts to practice my writing and ‘get in the flow’ before I hit the bigger things.

What do you do to start your creative juices flowing?

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