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Laundry Day and the Lizard
~A childhood memory~
by Pam Hauck



Wednesday was wash day at Mammaw's house. After breakfast dishes she'd shove her wringer washing machine to the middle of the kitchen floor and fill it with buckets of steamy water. My job was to sort the mounds of dirty clothes into small piles of matching colors.

"When the laundry's done we'll walk down to the crick 'n you can go wading," she said.

The old washer couldn't dance across the floor fast enough. I loved to go to the crick and I couldn't wait to get there. I liked to squish brown mud between my toes along the bank, then hold a big stick and walk out in the water like Pappaw did when he baptized people in the Ohio River.

After Mammaw pulled the first load through the wringer I followed her outside. She carried a large wicker basket of wet towels and sheets over to the clotheslines. The grass, freshly cut with the push mower, stuck to my bare feet as I handed her the clothes pins. When the load was hung she propped the line up and I followed her back to the house.

"Oh, darn," she said. "I forgot the basket. Run and get it for me, ok?" She went in the back door.

I scurried across the yard, grabbed the basket, and ran back towards the house. I went up the steps to the back stoop and stopped -- one foot on the last step, one foot on the stoop. A long lizard with a huge red head and an olive-brown body squatted between me and the back door.

"Mammaw!" I screamed.

"What's wrong, child?" she asked, poking her head out the back door. I pointed to the skink. "Don't move," she said. "It won't hurt you."

"Why don't it run away?" I asked.

"I don't know." Mammaw stepped out the door and grabbed a garden hoe that leaned against the back of the house. "You should've stayed out in the garden where you belong. You ain't comin' in my house and gettin' in my bed." She raised the hoe over her head, and chopped till the lizard's head fell off.

"Come on in," she said. "I gotta get a bucket of water and wash this off here. Why, you look plum scared half-to-death." She walked over and gave me a hug. "It won't be long and we'll be done washin' and then we'll go down to that crick you love so much."

"Mammaw," I said, "could we just stay inside today?"

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Pam Hauck lives in the mountains of north Georgia with her daughter Barbara. Her writing credits include Southern Scribe, flashquake, The Emerald Collection, The Phoenix, The Dead Mule, Blue Magnolia, storySouth, The Tactile Mind, and the Muse Apprenticeship Guild. Her most recent publications include From the Heart 2: More Stories of Love and Friendship, Artella: the Waltz of Words and Art, and Women of the Web Anthology of Poems.

You may reach her at pamelakhauck@yahoo.com.


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