Se­cret Wash­ing

MAL­LORY TATER

Room Magazine - - BURTON -

In the laun­dry room, Mon­ica hand-washes her G-string thong, cho­sen from the four-dol­lar bin at Gi­ant Tiger, pan­cakes and syrup car­tooned on the crotch. A bar of white soap clouds her hands. She says if I don’t tell, it’ll work in my favour. My par­ents call that kind of un­der­wear floss-like, of­fen­sive, have banned it from our house.

My sis­ter is a se­nior with shaggy hair and a tough, ac­ned boyfriend. She keeps rum in a drawer, her bed in the closet, the pitched-roof at­tic above her to prove she is brave.

Mon­ica and her girl­friends re­turn from a strip mall with pa­per bags and a reel of photos—three girls, socks down bras, fish-lipped and peace-sign­ing.

She leaves a fuch­sia thong un­der my pil­low, a kit­ten on the tag with hearted eyes.

At school, I ex­pose the thin straps above my jeans, around my hips. The chaf­ing fab­ric, thin waist­band— the first on a laced line of many firsts.

My sis­ter no longer does the wash­ing alone.

All we wish to be is as fierce as the fab­ric fixed pretty and stretched be­tween our legs.

Mon­ica and I never talk about sex. It is some­thing we bathe away in a deep sink, hang to dry qui­etly on the wooden ledge of my bunk-bed. Sex drips wa­ter on the floor at night. Sex is a small tri­an­gle.

Sex is the trees blow­ing snow on the pane.

It tow­els above my head. It turns my eyes smoky and blue. Sex reaches the edge of the yard one day. He asks me to eat meat­ball he­roes and lis­ten to Stray­light Run in his base­ment. I learn what I wear un­der­neath can shape this. Twice a week, in the laun­dry room, be­fore our par­ents come home, Mon­ica and I wash our for­bid­den un­der­wear.

We wring out the sim­ple in us, our hands oily, dis­hon­est, our worlds soft goat’s milk.

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