The laundry room in our house, like most every other room, was cramped. The wallpaper was a boring tan, the floor was a dingy linoleum, and one solitary picture of me hung on the wall above the washer and dryer. My full head of blonde hair matched the color of the sun that glared in the photo, and my exaggerated smile revealed a few missing teeth.
When dad needed to iron clothes the ironing board took up the length of the room. Even if just one person was in the room, they would need to slide and maneuver around the ironing board. Small piles of clothes laid unwashed in various corners.
Shirtless, my father ran the iron over the much smaller, white undershirt. He was a round man, one with a hairy beer belly and forearms. That’s where most of the hair on his head seemed to have went. What hair was left atop his head was still dark at least. Still, he was a man’s man, a real go-getter, or at least he used to be one.
He let out a gruff huff and set the iron down on the far end of the ironing board. Thick hands adjusted the small shirt; more wrinkles showed with it’s rotation.
I stood on my tip tones, wanting to get a better look at my dad’s craft, and it felt like my fists were magnetically attached to my bare chest. I was conscious of how boney I was; as my hands pressed against my body I could feel my sternum and collar bones.
Dad glanced down at me and then looked back to the shirt. He picked up the iron again. The water inside sloshed as he set the chrome bottom onto the white fabric. The iron hissed and sighed with each movement.
I felt butterflies flutter in my stomach. A haziness filled my head and I had to lower off of my tip toes to keep my balance.
Dad lifted up the iron and placed it on the far side of the board. As he did so, the machine let out a long, heated sigh.
I felt my narrow shoulders relax. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it! It was as if a witch had cast a spell on me. I felt as if a tiny, white ghost was going to flow out past my lips and be sucked into the holes of the bottom of the iron.
Dad cleared his throat and tugged at the hems of my t-shirt. He eyed it for a moment and picked up the iron again as he seemed to have noticed another crease near the neck.
Internally, I cheered. I couldn’t wait to hear the sounds again. I brushed some blonde hair out of my eyes; I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going to miss even a second of the spectacle.
I must have been standing on my tip toes again because dad’s dark blue eyes were upon me; he looked annoyed. “Skooch” he grumbled, his deep voice ruined the hissing of the iron.
He nudged me back with his giant knee.
The smell as the iron ran across the clothing was intoxicating; it smelled like warmth, like cleanliness, like a freshly dried shirt.
Rebelliously, I bounded around the ironing board. I went to my right. In my rush, I failed to notice the black cord that plugged into the wall near the floor. My bare foot caught it and I fell. My head slammed against the white metal front of the washing machine and caused a loud boom.
The iron was ripped from my father’s grasp. The butt of the machine bounced off of the far end of the ironing board. The heavy, chrome, scalding metal came into contact with my bare back and I shrieked. I pushed my hands down as hard as I could onto the floor and shot up. The iron fell off of me and onto the floor with a thud. I was afraid to look; I was convinced that some of my skin was melted onto it. My back stung and it felt like it was bubbling. I began to cry and scream louder as the pain swelled.
My father exploded, “What I tell you ‘bout runnin’? Huh?” He smacked me on the back of the head with his meaty hand. The blow made my ears ring; I let out a scared cry.
Tears streamed down my face and my chin quivered. I heaved in snot filled breathes through my nose and exhaled forcefully out of my gaping mouth. My head throbbed, my back burned, and felt like I was going to tear my back open with each movement. Now my pride was bleeding too.
“Ice!” he yelled, and pointed one of his sausage fingers toward the door.
I let out a low, pitiful moan and waddled out. The red, angry, arrowhead burn on full display.