Lisa H. Owens began writing in earnest at the age of 56. She became a monthly humorist-columnist for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, contributing two years and completed her first book, “Dear Melinda, How I Met Your Brother,” (pending publication) during the pandemic. Her creative essays and fiction short stories have also been published on Beneath the Surface News,Spillwords, International Lockdown Journal, Dark Nowhere, Short Story Avenue and will be coming soon to Short Story Town. Her bio will be included in “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers, 2021.” She resides in North Texas with two rescue dogs, who constantly demand, “BACON!” You can read more of her work at: www.lisahowens.com
Here is Lisa's first short story for you; "The Laundry Room" By Lisa H. Owens
Pensacola, Florida - 1978
It’s the weekend. Yay—except it is laundry day, a day that occurs more often than normal for me since I only have three or four semi-cool Christian school-appropriate outfits. My worry this morning is a real one. I have secretly borrowed my mom’s robin’s egg blue mohair sweater to wear to school. A lunchtime food accident leaves me panic-stricken. This is only a big deal because it may be my mom’s only link to her youth and happier days before she had four demanding kids to ignore. I slip out of bed and turn to do a quick cover-straightening on my twin bed before tiptoeing past my sleeping sister, careful not to step on the landmine that is her side of the room.
Stumbling into the bathroom, I stare at my face in the toothpaste splattered mirror. Not too bad. Clear skin. Thick long brown hair. Roundish face. I quickly brush my teeth, then my hair, parting it carefully down the center in the style so popular in 1978. I am not trying too hard since I am only going to be in the motel laundry room alone. No one to impress today. The maids won’t even arrive for a few hours.
The Royal House brings up images of elegance, class, style. It’s not really the case; however, since the cheapskate owner went so far as to cancel the monthly pest control service to save money, which anyone living in Florida knows is the kiss of death for a business. Nothing worse than turning on the bathroom light at two o’clock in the morning to catch the tail end of a plethora of German cockroaches running for cover. But there are some good things about living with my family of six in the manager’s quarters of a roach-infested motel. At the age of 13 when my two brothers, my sister, and I were swimming in the motel pool, located smack-dab in the center of the horseshoe-shaped complex, I met Chubby Checker. He and his band had obviously fallen upon some hard times staying at the Royal House and playing the 1975 Pensacola Interstate Fair venue. He even invited me to tag along, which was both weirdly flattering and sketchy at the same time. I declined, of course, but only because my dad said no, questioning the integrity of the band.
My thoughts come back to my laundry situation and my mom’s mohair sweater. How do I wash it and sneak it back into her dresser drawer, currently laden with threadbare panties and discolored nursing bras, even though her baby is in elementary school? The absence of her prized possession will be glaring. I grab the sweater along with my Christian school-appropriate separates and head toward the shabby motel lobby saying, “See ya later, alligator,” to my dad manning the switchboard. The covered walkway is 100 yards of exterior motel room doors on my way to the laundry room, located at the back of the property. Walking quickly, I keep my eyes averted from the guests’ doors. Seeing a beer-bellied nude traveling salesman is not on my bucket list. Not today. Not ever. Still single-mindedly making my way to the refuge of a quiet, unoccupied space to get a break from the motel’s crowded living quarters, I hear a door open and then shut behind me. Not a concern. Probably just a guest getting another six-pack out of his car. Continuing on. Almo