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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Melissa Allen

The Only Warm Things

It’s a Saturday night around the Ides of March and you’re in bed at nine o’clock, wearing an old T-shirt you would never let anyone see you wearing and listening to the clothes dryer in the basement, with all the good clothes in it, tumble them dry in its usual reliable way. The dryer is 25 years old or more and you’ve owned it for 22 of those years. You’re that old now.

The more you think about the dryer the more you love it, the way you push a single button and in response the dryer grows hot and does its sturdy mechanical dance and eventually buzzes to respectfully inform you that its work is complete, and when you open the door the release of the latch makes that satisfying thump and the pile of warm cloth inside is warmer than anything else you touch all week.

It makes you want a baby so you could put the baby to sleep in a pile of warm laundry and watch its little chest rise and fall as it slept, as efficient and reliable as the dryer. Why didn’t you ever do that when you had a baby? What was stopping you? Who was stopping you? Why did you always obey the wrong instructions and disregard the right ones? Why are you and the dryer the only warm things in the house tonight?

midnight snack

the clock with no hands
still ticking


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