Drying on the Vine

by Dawn DeBraal

The dryer stopped its hypnotic tumbling.  Opening the door, I let the clothes spill into the basket on wheels. Being a cold November day, I relished the heat they radiated.   Pulling the basket over to the folding table, I began the process in the Laundromat of folding and sorting my clothes into neat stacks. The baby I was carrying kicked from inside. I secretly smiled as I continued folding, making short work of turning shirts, towels, and pants into small, quarter-folded bundles, placing one garment on top of the other, lost in mindless details.

“Ma’am?” someone called out. “Can you help me fold my sheets?” I kept folding my load, unaware that it was me she had asked for help from! Again, “Ma’am.” I suddenly came back to reality, tingling all over.

“Ma’am! Ma’am!” I thought to myself, “When did I become a ma’am?” I looked down to my swollen belly. I was 24 years old and very pregnant the first time anyone had ever called me ma’am. Up until that day I was always addressed as “Miss.”  She did not know how upset I was. She had no idea that she had just turned me into an old woman with her simple question! She stood there smiling, holding out the sheet. I wondered if all women had this same revelation as I begrudgingly took the end of her fitted sheet.

4 thoughts on “Drying on the Vine

  1. Anna Hayes says:

    A nice snapshot of the power of words and terminology, and how something simple can have such a powerful effect. I also liked the subtle way you weaved in the idea of how parenthood equals maturity or ‘ma’am’ territory, if you like! I have one or two friends who would empathise with your character!


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