By Jessica Cherry

Snow fell again this week. We pushed it aside, but more fell in its place. I took our down comforters to the Coin-Op Laundry. There, on the linoleum floor, in front of the triple loader, stood an azure pool of detergent. Not seeing an attendant or a rag, I pulled a newspaper out of the trash bin, and laid it down in the sticky puddle like a tiny raft. Into that oversized washer went my bedding, soap, and a pocketful of quarters. Curling into an orange, egg-shaped, chair, I stared at the arcade claw game in the corner, which could grab a sad sheet of stickers, a tiny football helmet, or a sequined pair of girl’s shoes. It talked softly, trying to coax a player in. Soon, a man arrived who talked so loudly into his phone that I couldn’t read a book. Instead, I watched my linens give chase in the biggest dryer, a few loose feathers flying like the snow outside. The hypnotic motion soothed my irritation and I thought of the snow geese I’ve watched on the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, where their molted, white down litters the tundra. A tired woman arrived, to mop up the mess, and she told her troubles to the loud talking man. Besides these two and a silent teenager tapping his phone, the place was empty. A few machines hummed along in service, while most sat still, awaiting their orders.

Jessica Cherry, PhD is a scientist, writer, and commercial airplane pilot living in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

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