A Lobster Walks Into a Laundromat by Jayne Martin

None of the women could recall when the lobster first appeared, his large claws clacking against the floor as he folded his laundry along with the rest of them. He would arrive on Mondays, nine a.m. sharp, dragging a small cart brimming over with mostly napkins and tablecloths, and smelling of butter. While not much of a talker, every so often a sound like that of a bow across the strings of a violin would emit from him and though the women weren’t clear about its meaning, they were charmed nonetheless. On occasion, one of them would swear that he’d winked at her and blush at the flutter it aroused.

It had been years since any of them had been noticed in “that way” and they had grown complacent about cosmetics, drab about dress, haggard about hair-dos. But on Mondays, lipsticks with names like Crimson Crush, Potent Peach, and Orange-U-Hot would shine from newly-painted lips and the scent of Aqua Net would hang in the air. 

Between wash and rinse cycles, the women would vie for the lobster’s attention with tips about stain removers and fabric softeners, and the lobster would listen, attentive as if they were spouting sonnets or Shakespeare and each woman would feel special and seen. 

And they would return to their homes and husbands lusty with demands the husbands would not understand, but would nevertheless acquiesce to until about Thursday, when the monotony of their days would cause the women to forget themselves once again.

Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, formercactus, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Blue Fifth Review, Bending Genres, Hippocampus and Connotation Press, among others. She lives in California where she drinks copious amounts of fine wine and rides horses, though not at the same time. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

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