“The Laundry Room Comes First”

If you believe that the key events in a man’s life should be recounted in their order of occurrence, then the laundry room comes first, followed by your sudden move to a new country, followed by a wife, a divorce, your involvement in local politics, your remarriage, the scandal surrounding that clandestine dump for toxic waste, a courtroom trial, your bankruptcy, your comeback with a reality TV show and, finally, a murder-suicide in your beachside home.

If, instead, you believe that the story of a life should begin with the happening of greatest significance, then my tale, too, starts in the laundry room, with my death at age four, thirty years before you take your own life, thus easing some of my grief over the untimely loss of myself, and resolving that early crisis point in the plot where my mouth, finally mature enough to articulate such things, reports the murder of my childhood, only to find its cries of foul play falling on deaf ears.

If, as some hope, a life can be resurrected through selective memory, then my only story will, necessarily, begin where I run out of the laundry room to chase lizards in the dirt, to hopscotch in the driveway, to side-step a fat toad on a wet lawn, to read books to a toy giraffe, to ride a bicycle with foot brakes and, back on the cool floor of the laundry room, to witness the birth of six tender-voiced puppies, sliding into the amber light of a warm morning, eyes still swollen shut yet knowing how to find the teat, where to seek their sustenance, where to begin their story.

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About Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson is from New York, has lived in several cities, and does most of her writing in Rome. Her work has won the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award and the Saboteur Award for Best Novella and her stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.