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to the girls who dance in words and speak in color


The Laundromat Girls braid their hair into neat updos, sit under moonlit skies like they are the blazing stars that people gaze upon in wonder. Bare feet hit shimmering linoleum as they dance around in their thrift-store sunflower dresses. They drink laundry detergent like it’s orange juice, relish the bitter liquid flowing over lollipop stained tongues. Stark red against an ivory white like flesh upon bone, they laugh with lipstick-stained lips about God and the lack of God and their secret religion of decay.


I see them every time I do my laundry, juggling two baskets full to the brim of clothing; one’s for the white clothing, the other for the black. My eyes, who refuse to think in anything other than black and white, do not appreciate the spectrum of color from the Laundromat Girls. Instead, I pop in a quarter into each machine before heading out the door, looking to kill time for an hour before returning to put the clothing in the dryer. I’d repeat this cycle every two weeks, no more, no less, letting the clothes pile up until I finally had nothing left to wear and had to return to the laundromat, with its dreary lights and pretty girls.


This time, upon my return, I find that my clothes are no longer the comfort of black and white, but an array of color which serves to make my eyes bulge out of my head. From begonia pink to iris blue, I cringe as I lift up a blazer dyed rose red. The Laundromat Girls wait for my response but soon tire of watching my gaping mouth. Dragging me by the restrooms, they hold up a rather modest piece; my linen trench coat dyed an appealing shade of dahlia purple, then urge me to change into it. Unable to resist the whims of such enchanting girls, I do as they ask.


As I return I am greeted by a series of coos and soft grins for my first time wearing any sort of color. They slip the hair tie from my straight ponytail and braid my hair in a fashion akin to theirs, nimble fingers weaving locks of hair into intricate patterns. I watch as they sweep gloss the color of cherry blossoms onto my lips, watch as they sprinkle shimmering stardust onto my cheekbones and eyelids. Rouge colors my cheeks as I come to life, the colors vibrating and pulsating before me, ecstasy in the hues I taste so very clearly on my tongue. I look in the mirror and smile. Standing next to them, I am nothing. But nothing is more than I was before.


Before long I smear red lipstick onto dry lips out of my own volition, I dance around in thrift-store sunflower dresses, bare feet hitting shimmering linoleum. I drink laundry detergent as if it is orange juice, laughing out in euphoric joy in a life that has become my own. This has become my religion, the radiance of life in the presence of these Laundromat Girls, whose triumph lies in defeat and whose strength lies in vulnerability. I dream in gentle decay and graceful oblivion, whose growing hands pick me up and lay me six feet under the dirt.

Amanda is a current sophomore at Santa Clara High School in the class of '22. She loves reading and writing, preferring to write in shorter mediums such as poetry and flash fiction. When she isn't procrastinating, you'll probably find her writing, but if she is, you'll find her watching medical shows on Netflix. Amanda has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

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