Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FUSSY (11/17/16)
TITLE: An Insurmountable Problem
By Jan Ackerson
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Three weeks later, they returned from a honeymoon in Ireland, their faces flushed with joy.
“Doro,” said Sid, taking possession of the luggage. “I’ll start the laundry. That way you’ll have time to iron all my shirts before I have to go to work tomorrow.” And before she had a chance to respond, he was in the basement. She could hear him whistling while he unzipped bags and sorted laundry, and all she could think was, Iron his shirts?
She’d spent very little time in Sid’s house—now her own—what with the preparations for the whirlwind wedding and then the planning for their honeymoon. She stood in the kitchen, stunned, his words still bouncing around her consciousness. She had a vague understanding of what iron my shirts meant, but she was quite sure that hadn’t been in the wedding vows. With Sid still in the basement, she walked to his—no, their—bedroom and opened his top dresser drawer.
Two dozen pairs of socks—twelve white, twelve black—all folded identically, arranged in a neat rectangle, six pairs across and four pairs down. Next to the socks, a stack of boxers, crisply pressed. Pressed.
The next drawer held his tee-shirts, along with one of those plastic devices for folding tee-shirts into perfect, display-worthy shapes.
In the closet, Sid’s button-down shirts were arranged by sleeve length, then by color. Slacks in shades from khaki to black all hung neatly, each hanger facing the same direction. Sid’s shoes, too, were arranged systematically, all shining and tidy.
Dorothy thought back over the past three weeks, and how enamored she’d been by Sid’s careful appearance. She’d dated off and on over the years, but the usual middle-aged man’s uniform of jeans, short-sleeved shirt, and baseball cap had failed to charm her. Sid was lovely, though…a sudden thought sent Dorothy into the bathroom.
Sid was still whistling in the basement; there had been four suitcases to unpack. She opened the linen cupboard, then let out a sigh of relief. Sid’s obsessive neatness wasn’t evident here—the towels and washcloths had been haphazardly pushed into the cupboard regardless of size or color, and the medicines and bandaids and such were tossed into a plastic bin.
In the kitchen, too, there was no sign of obsessive order. It was tidy, but nothing more. Apparently, Dorothy realized with relief, she had just married a fussy dresser. However…so you can iron all my shirts. This seemed to be an insurmountable problem. She had no intention of ironing even one shirt, let alone all of them.
She headed down the basement stairs. Sid was standing in the middle of five piles of laundry, holding a piece of black lingerie. “I don’t know where to put this,” he said. A line formed between his brows and Dorothy realized he was actually worried. “I’ve never had to…it’s delicate, obviously,” said Sid, indicating the smallest pile, “but it’s also black.” He eyed the pile of dark clothing—containing mostly his trousers—looking puzzled.
Dorothy laughed and took the item, tossing it into the pile of bright colors. Sid inhaled sharply, and Dorothy walked into his arms.
“Who ironed your shirts before you married me?” she asked.
“There’s a woman. Melanie. She came on Tuesdays and did the laundry and all the ironing. She knew just how I like things. I was sorry to let her go, but I have you now, and I’m sure you’ll want to…”
Dorothy interrupted him. “Melanie, huh? Is she young? Pretty?”
Sid narrowed his eyes, looking like a man who suspects a trap. “Well…yes.”
That wasn’t what Dorothy wanted to hear, but desperation goaded her on. It was fine to be married to a fussy dresser—especially one as thoughtful and funny and kind as Sid—but nothing was going to get her to start ironing shirts, for Pete’s sake. She stood on tiptoe. “Does Melanie know that you like…” She whispered in Sid’s ear.
“Doro,” said Sid, “she does not. I’ll see if she can work this Tuesday, shall I?”
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