I’d like to share with you one of the prompts I used in last Friday’s workshop, which sparked much hilarity and excitement, however simple and apparently mundane! It began with my asking people to note down three possible reasons people might need to use the launderette. I then gave each writer two small pieces of paper and asked them to write, one on each, an item of clothing, in as much or as little detail as they wished. These were then folded and placed in a box from which each of us took a single one, and proceeded to write a story which had to begin with:
“Are these/is this yours?”
After we’d shared, we found we’d so enjoyed listening to the stories that we spoke of putting them, format to be decided, in the local launderette for others to read! I’ll let you know if that happens! However, as a starting point, five writers have agreed for me to share their wonderful and wildly unedited work here – all written there and then in just 10 minutes!!! Amazing:-) Enjoy!
At the launderette
“Is this yours?” the red-haired bespectacled woman said in the primmest of voices. “I said ‘Is this yours?’” She raised her voice and glared at me as if she was holding up a little lacy black thong number, something sensuously out of bounds. The snigger in the corner got louder. I wanted to say ‘Of course not, mine would be pretty and sexy; I wouldn’t be seen dead in that thing.’ “Err, yes it is thanks” and I moved towards her, holding out my hand to take my Mrs Doubtfire bra back; beige, shining, big and very comfy, it brought laughter to my daughter and granddaughter but they weren’t standing in a busy launderette trying to impress a charming grandfather who had the ease of a relaxed man, glistening white hair and a face rugged and interesting that had stories to tell.
I turned my back, embarrassed. He carried on talking as if nothing had happened and inside I thanked him. The conversation flowed, my heart opened and I fell into his wide, bright blue eyes.
The washing machines stopped. We loaded driers about the same time. I put in extra money in the hope he would too. We sat back down. The laughter came, the smiles became more frequent, the eye gazing wondrous. I told him about my grandchildren, he told me about his life on boats. I made him smile with my shyness, he made me laugh out loud with his humour.
The machine noise stopped and I pulled out my hot, still slightly damp clothes, haphazardly, and untidily, pushing them into my bag.
And when the charming man asked ‘Care to join me for a cuppa in the café next door?” I answered, quietly and with pleasure, “Yes please”.
ARE THESE YOURS?
‘They came out of my basket but I’m pretty sure they’re not mine’
Not my size or colour – after all they are even a real pair in their own right – even though well worn, ‘used to be white’ – no holes yet but threatening!
‘Are they yours? Or yours?’ ….no they wouldn’t be yours either!
Being a regular I get to know the other regulars and recognise the newcomers. I’m just trying to work out who might be missing ‘em – or not – maybe pleased even they’ve gone missing and too embarrassed to claim.
Ah – ‘ere comes Betty one of the Friday regulars – small wash, dry, sits and chats the hind leg off a donkey. They wouldn’t be ‘ers.
Ooh! Busy day today – someone new, rather posh, not often see that type – they certainly won’t be ‘ers either.
Never mind eh? – they can’t be that well loved. I mean – just look at the state of ‘em.
Were they for tennis? running? school? bed? Who on earth wants white socks in the first place?
Why am I so obsessed with these darned socks – albeit not darned – yet!
‘Allo Fred – you’re a bit late today. Been to the Bookies yet?’
‘Yeah I got a hot tip – an outsider at Cheltenham – 3 to 1 – good new racer from Lansdown Stables – pretty little mare named The Missing Sock!’
‘Funny that – I hear there’s a pair’
by Jenni A
Are these yours he said as he pulled out a pair of shiny leopard skin trousers from the drier. On no, they are not mine, but it’s nice that you thought they could be I reply. The young man smiles – Well you could you know you’d get away with it! I laugh and turn back to folding my own clothes. The grey cardi buttoned all the way up to the top. The sensible skirts and mannish trousers. How ironic I think – he could have thought that the leopard skin trousers belonged to me. Perhaps he had sensed my inner wild woman. The one who wants to wear long flowing brightly coloured skirts and funky headbands and wear short skirts over jeans and grow her hair long. That would be the day I think to myself – I know my hair would take forever to grow into long flowing locks if ever. But, those leopard skin trousers had made me think – why not, why should I stay the dowdy middle aged woman – who or what was I hiding from.
I finished packing my washing away and as I went out I quietly put the leopard skin trousers that he had placed on the bench into my bag. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere I told myself . . .
by Hilary B
“Are These Yours?”
“Are these yours?”
It was a reasonable question. The item I had taken out of the tumble dryer was a pair of Levi 501 jeans with button opening flies and the person I addressed was a young man of shining muscles sat on the launderette bench in his underpants.
He stood up – I struggled to keep my eyes on his face – and walked over to me. Gosh it gets hot in these places.
“No ma’am, they’re not”. American accent. Am I in a movie suddenly?
“Umm…” A small man, unnoticed until this moment, had made the sound. “Umm….I… that is, they’re mine”.
“But you’re wearing jeans already.”
Clearly I wanted it to be the movies, I wanted those shiny, ripping muscles to have something to do with me. The little person blushed,
“Yes, well, I have more than one pair of jeans.”
“What? Oh, yes, of course. I’m sorry, here you go”.
Mr. Muscles had sat down again and I handed the 501s to the small person.
“Oh, just a minute – there’s something else in the machine. Maybe it fell out of your pocket”, and I handed him a small card, water rippled and crackled by its adventures over the last hour. I couldn’t help but notice (honestly) that it was a card from a local dating agency. How did I recognise it? The same one was sat on my desk at home.
“Don’t be a shrinking violet”, I’d told myself. “Get out more. Meet some people. Maybe you’ll meet the man of your dreams.”
I had – in the launderette: the insignificant man who owned two pairs of jeans (at least) was my date. We met in the cafe next door half an hour later, he is his clean 501s, me in my favourite – now shrunken unfortunately, though he didn’t seem to mind – violet jumper.
“Are these yours?”
The launderette had been empty when he arrived through his new method, but now all the machines were whirring around like clocks. Even so, everyone heard.
“Oh no!” he thought. “Not again!”
As time travel was new to him he hadn’t quite got the hang of it. Sometimes he regretted going to that Totnes workshop. All he was trying to do was give his clothes a wash before he somehow found a way to slip back.
The launderette assistant held a pair of thigh length boots aloft for everyone to see. He’d hidden them behind a rickety stack of plastic laundry baskets. He’d hidden himself there too, for as long as he could. (Elizabethan underwear would draw attention.)Of course the feathered hat and boots didn’t need to go in the wash.
Four pairs of curious eyes swivelled in his direction. How embarrassing.
“Er..yes,” he said but the rest got awkward as he found himself speaking in rhyming couplets. He’d obviously spent too much time away from the twenty-first century. A tumble-drier whirred to the end of its cycle.
“Thank you,” he managed to say, with a blush. She placed them on the centre of the floor and retreated disdainfully behind a door. There were giggles.
This was going to be tricky. Timing was everything. He retreated to put on his beautiful breeches and embroidered jacket as things quietened down. The launderette would need to be empty. All the machines including tumble-driers needed to be still. And then there was the very particular curve and angle for launching himself through time…
He flung himself into the empty washing machine just as the town clock struck midday, grabbing his thigh length boots as he went. If he got the timing just right, he’d get to The Globe just in time to see that new play Shakespeare was doing. If not – it would be a long journey in the spin cycle. Hmm… It was looking as if he was going to have to do that Level 2 Time Travel workshop after all .. that is, if he ever managed to get the hang of the timing on the door lock, and get back to Totnes again on the right Saturday morning….
by Wendy W
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: