Wednesday Writing Prompt: Good Clean Fun

It’s summertime, and this year our family tried something new — signing our kids up for swim team. Now, swim team has been a lot of fun, but somehow when we made this decision, I didn’t realize that my summer would consist of … towels.

Towels on the floor.

Towels in the washer.

Towels in the dryer.

Towels tucked away in gym bags in the summertime heat…

You get the idea.

So, to celebrate the end of towel season with swim team championships this weekend, I thought today’s post would be a picture instead of words.


Write a story about this picture and, to make it even more fun, be sure to include the words ‘towel’ and “marlin”. (yes, my kids’ swim team mascot is a marlin…)

Happy writing!

4 thoughts on “Wednesday Writing Prompt: Good Clean Fun”

  1. “Just…one…more…inch!” I stretched out my arm, wincing as my t-shirt rolled up my abdomen, leaving no barrier between my skin and the sharp ridges in the metal ring that lined the dryer door. Panting, I eased myself backwards and down, exhaling as my feet hit the floor. Little curls of panic were darting back and forth between my throat and my stomach. How could I have been so stupid?

    I’d woken early that morning, too thrilled by the sight of actual sunshine to stay in bed any longer. Three weeks of rain was enough to dampen anyone’s spirits, let alone a California girl like me. Well, a former California girl anyway. To be entirely honest, a former-California-girl-turned-middle-aged-middle-western-suburbanite. But I still clung to my west coast roots proudly, having spent my formative years soaking up the sun about 80 miles north of L.A. Springtime in Cleveland was still a shock to my senses. I’d never understood how people could run around in shorts the second the thermometer read 50. But today there was a noticeable warmth in the air, so I threw on jeans and a t-shirt, grabbed the laundry bag and hurried to the car, recklessly leaving my trusty jacket hanging in the front closet.

    “Jack is coming home today!” I sang softly to myself as I pulled out of the driveway. It was new, this feeling of excitement at the thought of seeing my husband of 11 years. Our marriage had started off as most new relationships do, all thrills at just being together. Even when that faded away our relationship had been a pleasant one, up until about a year ago. Jack began travelling more often, and I’d started a new job a few towns away. We were both so engrossed in our own pursuits, content to kiss one another goodbye every morning more like fond roommates than husband and wife. Looking back, I suppose I should have seen the signs. Still it had come as a shock when, 6 weeks ago, Jack sat me down and told me he was leaving.

    “I can’t do it anymore, Kate. We’re just…just not the same people we were back then. We don’t know each other at all anymore.”

    In that moment, his familiar deep voice was like that of a stranger. I stared at him, uncomprehending. I expected to burst into tears, but instead it was as though I’d been dipped in ice. I felt nothing, just a yawning chasm somewhere in the region of my stomach. Even as he packed a bag and loaded it and his computer into the car, I stood calm and silent at the kitchen window, watching the past 11 years drive away in a rusty old Honda. It wasn’t until the next day, when my alarm sounded and I woke to the realization that this had not been a bad dream, that I was alone in the four-poster bed, that I collapsed.

    “But he’s coming home!” I stepped on the accelerator a bit harder – not because I needed to, but because the little burst of speed seemed to echo the joyful leap of my heart at the thought. I waited impatiently at the light that would take me to the highway, spinning my diamond wedding band around my finger. It sparkled in the sunshine and I grinned foolishly, forgetting to keep an eye on the traffic light until an irritated honk sounded from the car behind mine. It was only a few minutes trip to the nearest mall, and soon I was in girly heaven amidst shiny new shoes and dresses. It wasn’t often that I allowed myself to indulge in something new, but it also isn’t every day a woman’s husband decides she’s worth another try. I wriggled in and out of dress after dress, sighing at the various lumps and rolls that showed through the material. Apparently, it wasn’t only my marriage that had shown some wear over the past decade. After an extensive search I found one that made me feel neat and pretty, if not exactly a bombshell. Throwing caution to the wind, I didn’t even look at the total on the machine before swiping my credit card.

    I expected Jack home around noon. He’d called from the airport and left a message on my voicemail. I was disappointed not to get the chance to talk to him, but at least it gave me enough notice to plan. Our other phone conversations over the past few weeks had been growing warmer and more reassuring, and I was eager to hear his voice again. I’d always liked his voice, its rich timbre so strong and solid, as it was when he came out to L.A. to perform with his buddy’s acapella group. We’d bumped into one another after the performance (and okay, on my part that wasn’t entirely by accident), and after deciding to meet up for coffee the next morning had spent a long and happy day talking one another’s ears off. Fast forward a year and I was a married woman, ensconced in a chilly little apartment in Ohio. Last night we’d talked about that time, about those early years when life was really hard but it was okay because we were together. Somehow just talking about it had seemed to bring us closer. And then Jack said that he wanted to come home; he wanted to know if I was willing to try to save what we’d had. He didn’t let me answer just then but told me he wanted me to really think it over first. I knew deep down I would agree to his return on any terms. When he hung up, I’d gone over to the desk and taken my wedding set out of the drawer. It felt good to have the solid weight on my ring finger again, after a surreal month without it.

    Reminiscing, I didn’t notice that I’d started to swerve off the road until, with a loud pop, my tire hit the curb and went instantly flat. Forced out of my reverie, I muttered under my breath as I climbed out of the car to inspect the damage. An hour later and about a hundred dollars poorer, I handed my key to the tire salesman and picked up my embarrassingly large load of dirty clothes to lug down the street to the Marlin Laundromat. The basket seemed to get heaver with each step, and I now resented the warm sunshine as the sweat beaded on my forehead. Finally, red-faced and in a rapidly worsening mood, I managed to wedge the door open and get inside. To add insult to injury, the change machine was out of order. Another frustrating 15 minutes passed before an elderly lady took pity on me and exchanged some of my bills for her quarters. Looking anxiously at my watch, I started three washing machines and pulled out my phone to check for any messages. To my delight, Jack had sent a new text.

    “Looking forward to seeing you and hearing your answer. I think I’ll know as soon as I see your face.”

    I smiled, blushing a little in my happiness. The text was a reference to the words Jack had had inscribed on my wedding band: “To my Kate. As soon as I saw your face.” It was a romantic idea to think that Jack had fallen in love with me the first time our eyes met, but I knew that was a bit of a stretch. It had taken a concentrated half-hour of flirting on my part before he’d really shown much interest.

    The washers finally rattling to a stop, I counted the remaining quarters in my hand. Frowning, I set about trying to shove all three loads into a single dryer. To my relief, the door finally snapped shut and the clothes began to tumble behind the glass. My phone pinged again. The car was ready, so I set my empty basket next to the machine and headed back outside. By the time I’d picked up my car and returned to the laundromat, it was nearly 11. Less than an hour to grab my clothes, head home, and shower/dress before Jack arrived. It was tight. “Here’s hoping the plane is late.” I shoved the dry laundry back into the basket and raced for the parking lot. I made record time getting home, and not bothering to fold anything I threw the whole pile into the back of the closet and dashed for the shower. It wasn’t until I was standing wrapped in a towel with dripping hair that I noticed it. My ring was gone. Eyes wide, I stared at my blank left hand in bewilderment. Where could it have gone? I opened the closet and looked roughly through the pile of clothes, then started again, lifting each piece to shake it out. Nothing. I walked back and forth between the front door and the bedroom, but still nothing. I could feel tears welling up. My Jack was coming home, and what would he find? A mess of a woman who cared so little for her marriage that she’d lost the only real jewelry he’d ever been able to buy her.
    Suddenly I thought about my trip into town and how hard it had been to stuff the dryer. Throwing on my clothes again, I grabbed my keys and tore out of the driveway. If I’d driven fast before, I was surely speeding now. My wet hair dripped down onto my t-shirt, leaving icy cold trails behind. Screeching into the nearest parking spot, I hurtled across the room and yanked open the dryer. There was a load of wet towels inside, but no one was around. I grabbed the whole pile out and tossed them on top of the next machine. I looked frantically around the dryer’s shiny metal interior, crying in earnest now. The ring had to be here. It just had to. I reached up and grabbed both sides of the machine, pulling until my entire torso was inside, feet swinging wildly with effort. Finally, I spotted something. There was a distinct glimmer coming from the top corner of the dryer. I stretched out my arm to reach it and the tips of my fingers grazed something hard.

    “Just…one…more…inch!” My fingers finally connected with the sparkly object, which turned out to be nothing more than a bead that had wedged itself in an opening in the dryer. I stared at it in my palm, defeat settling over me. Panting, I eased myself backwards and down, exhaling as my feet hit the floor. Little curls of panic were darting back and forth between my throat and my stomach. How could I have been so stupid? Suddenly it seemed like that ring was my whole marriage in miniature: Important, but not important enough for me to take extra care of it. Lost before I’d even noticed it was gone. And now, the most important part of my world.

    My eyes caught sight of the clock across the room. 12:02. I’d missed Jack. I slumped down the side of the dryer to sit on the dusty floor, my wet hair now completely soaking the shoulders of my dirty t-shirt. So much for my impressive welcome, my new dress, the red lipstick I’d planned to wear. I pulled my phone from my pocket and turned on the ringer. 3 missed calls. I sighed and began to type out a text, only to erase it twice. I didn’t know what to say. Getting to my feet, I turned around to load the wet towels back into the dryer. I switched it to “On” and the resultant rumble nearly drowned out the jingle of the bell as the door behind me opened and shut.


    My eyes popped open wide as I spun back around. A tall, dark-haired man was standing in the doorway with a puzzled look on this face. He wore a dark gray suit with a red tie. It was the tie I’d bought him for our second anniversary, the one I’d skipped coffee and movie nights to pay for. I stood as though frozen, drips from my hair mingling with the remains of the tears on my cheeks.

    “Are…are you okay?” He was stepping forward now and reached out as though to take my hand, then stopped. His deep blue eyes searched mine as he dug a hand into his pocket.

    “How did you know I was here?” My voice squeaked a bit.

    “Well…” He pulled his hand back out of his pocket and something sparkled on his palm. My wedding ring.

    “I found this on the driveway. Next to a wet towel.” He smiled slightly before continuing. “Seeing your ring lying on the ground scared me, Kate.”

    Jack took another step forward, his eyes still holding mine. “This ring belongs on your finger. At least that’s where I think it should be.”

    This time he did lift my hand, the touch of his warm fingers sending shivers across my cold ones. I stared back at him, joy beginning to penetrate the fog that had settled over my mind. I clutched at his hand, and in another moment his arms were tight around me.

    We held hands in the car on the way home. Jack wanted to take me to lunch, but I was insistent on not going out in a soggy, dirty, t-shirt while he was dressed to the nines. Jack kept tracing the outline of my ring with his index finger as though to reassure himself it was still in its proper place. It wasn’t until we pulled into our driveway that I looked at him again, puzzlement wrinkling my brow.

    “How on earth DID you find me so fast?”

    He grinned. “Let’s just say I’m thankful for Steve Jobs and Find iPhone.”

    I swatted at him, pretending to be annoyed that he’d used technology to track me down. In reality, I was on cloud nine and planned to stay there for a long time. As we stepped across the threshold, our hands still intertwined, I smiled.

  2. Tilly carried her blue laundry hamper to the laundry room. The room was a small laundry room. It had several hampers, each different colors. There was a green hamper, her Dad’s, a pink hamper, her sister’s, and a purple hamper, her Mom’s, all lay neatly against the wall. Tilly was always late to bring her hamper down the stairs from her room. She set down, next to her sister’s, then peared in the washer. The reason she did this was because her little sister, Bea, left her things in her pocket, and sometimes they were valuable things, like a cool rock. Tilly thought she saw something in there, so she reached in. Just as she reached, she heard Bea’s voice.
    “Tilly! I’m gonna count to three and if I find you, you got to look for me after that.” Bea shouted one, two, and three in about one second so Tilly got in the big washer, and closed the door. Inside, she looked for the thing she thought she saw. She pulled towels and shirts and all sorts of clothing out of the way until she could see what the big lump was. It was the size of her palm and, just to give you an idea, she was a eleven year old. It had a carving of a marlin on it. Where did Bea find this! Tilly thought.
    “What is this?”Tilly turned around to see a dent in the machine. She pressed the stone into it and waited.
    The back of the washer opened and a Tilly started to crawl through, but then realized she could stand.
    She walked and walked until there was a dead end. But, it was not disappointing, because there was candy there! A eleven year old can enjoy candy! She took one piece then walked back to the front of the machine.
    “I give up. Come out now, Tilly.”Bea moaned.
    Tilly brought the stone with her as she opened the door, and hid it in her room, where no one could find it.

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