Summer, 2010
24-Hour Short Story Contest
3rd Place Winner!


The young girl pulled another pair of pants from the pile of laundry. Between the hot black iron and the fireplace, it was stifling in the small kitchen. The only relief she could hope for was a small breeze coming from the window overlooking the distant waves. Her arm started moving methodically once again and, just as she started to fantasize about a forbidden swim, the iron stopped at a bump in the pocket...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.

Tuesday Night
by Laura Pearson, Springfield, MO

"You're too kind. I'm just a little tired; staying up until Dick comes home, you know." I suppose I must have hung up or something because she didn't say anything else. Anyway, I had to get back to my ironing. It's September, you see, and it's simply too hot to do my work during the day, so I was tinkered around with this and that, waiting for the sun to go down before I sift through the pile of laundry to find Richard's pants. He told me not to worry about them tonight, but heaven knows after sixteen years of marriage, you'd better believe I'm going to iron my husband's clothes for him. What would people think if they saw his closet full of wrinkled pants? Some think it's a trivial matter, but I couldn't live with the idea that anyone would think of me as a negligent wife.

It was plenty hot, believe you me, standing between my iron and that fireplace ñ why is it that we can't ever get a good fire like that in wintertime when we need it? Anyhow, I decided that the room was just too thick with heat and a strange smell, not sure what from. I nearly tripped over the cord stepping around the ironing board to get to the window. I opened it a little wider to get more air inside the room and saw the moon reflected on the water like little shards of sparkly glass, and it reminded me of how my mother told me when I was a child that sometimes broken things are more beautiful than put-together things, and I thought she was right at least on one level since sometimes if things last too long they get discolored or rusty or something of that sort, so maybe it's better to drop the vase and shatter it to pieces before it ever gets cracked or the paint starts chipping or what have you.

And looking at the ocean made me wonder why anybody ever went swimming. All I could think of was how all those little shards of glass would hurt quite a bit, and the salt in the water would surely offer a particularly painful element to the bath, but I don't know, maybe if you went for a nighttime skinny-dip, the salt-glass could be kind of thrilling, because some people are into that kind of thing. That's not me though; I can't hardly stand that kind of thing: I'm not much of one for first-aid and, besides, I had way too much work to do before bedtime to even think about going for a swim.

Ironing always seems to take me much longer than I expect. Richard's pants have grown worn in perfectly vertical lines where I fold them when I iron them. We very well may need to get some new ones soon. Or maybe not. It was a funny thought.

The shirts, though, are always a bit of a pain. The silly man always seems to get a bit of something on himself while eating, and I pride myself in my ability to scope out even the most miniscule of stains and banish them from my husband's perfectly spotless wardrobe. I'm glad he enjoys wearing white; it's so very easy to bleach and keep looking nice. But what's this? Some sort of spot of...something...on the pocket of yesterday's shirt. That just won't do.

Unfortunately the neighbors are being rather noisy this evening, which is aggravated by the constant ringing of the phone, but I've decided to unplug it. I can barely keep my head about me, what with this heat and the racket, but thankfully the smell has faded. But that noise. There's a rhythm to the pounding, almost sounds like knocking. Oh my, it is knocking! Not on my door, I hope.

It is, most certainly.

"Mrs. Lanaghan?"

Looking out the peephole I can see the big one that's Holly's husband shift his weight and look at the other one, that young redhead kid that puffs his chest out like he's all high-and-mighty. Fine, I'll open the door.

"Mrs. Lanaghan, we'd like to come in and talk to you about your husband."

I let them come in, but only to be nice. I go right back to my ironing. Holly's husband... what's his name? D-something... Doug? Dilbert? He would have some socially-inept name like that. He doesn't think I can hear, but I hear him murmur that it's stifling and that something is apparently "bizarre."

"Mrs. Lanaghan.... Margie, is it?"

"Margaret. I go by Margaret now."

Their questions are rather boring, since the men are so very insistent about the topics they want to ask about and don't care at all that I have so much more laundry to do. I seriously doubt they'll understand when I explain that there is, in fact, a very good reason that I have a fire going in eighty-two degree weather, because lighting a fire is not a very pleasant task, which is why I usually leave it to Richard.

"Ma'am, where is your husband?"

"I'm afraid that's a bit of a tricky question... oh dear! That's going to be a mess to clean up." Something in my words must have made them nervous because they've just begun calling all sorts of people and pointing and staring at the fireplace, where the logs have burned down enough to reveal the prettiest little bits of white sticking out from among the ashes. And now I can see they've got a pair of those little metal bracelets that will make ironing quite the difficult task indeed.

What Laura won:

$200 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

Contest guidelines are HERE.

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