"Sunday Evenings"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This short story is a young girl (me) whose mother ironed for a young man in her village and who feels resentful that every Sunday evening, she has to take his ironing to his house and he has a shinny red car sitting in his garage, which he could use to come and get his clothes.

Submitted: July 02, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 02, 2008



I used to hate Sunday evenings back then, because Sunday evenings back then, just like all the important occasions in my life ,was not a happy occasion for me . On Sundays ,just like on all these other occasions, I was forced into a humiliating situation which made me angry and embarrassed.

On Sunday evenings, I had to take that man’s ironing; ironing that I sometimes had to help my mother do; I had to take it to that man’s house. I wasn’t angry that my mother did his ironing ,because she needed the money, Nor was I angry because I had to help her with it sometimes, No! , I was angry that every Sunday evening, after ironing all these clothes on Saturday evenings ,that I had to bring this man’s clothes to his house, and that this man had a nice red shinny car sitting in his garage ,and that I had to walk this long way to get to that man’s house; and to get to that man’s house, you had to go down this big hill because that man’s house was right at the bottom of that hill. And what made it worst ,was that when I got to that man’s house from that long stretch of road , because it wasn’t like there was a short cut that you could take to get to his house, no! what made it worst was that when I got to that man’s house every Sunday evening, that man with his red shinny car, and his nice big house and his good job, that man would be sitting on his veranda with his feet cocked up on a chair, waiting for me to bring his clothes. The reason that that man had me come to his house every Sunday evening, instead of getting in his shinny red car to get his ironing from my mother’s house, was because that man wanted everyone in the village to know that he had someone ironing his clothes for him. That man back then ,thought he was a real big shot, he thought he was bourgeois. And, do you think that when I got there after walking that long way in that hot sun, sweat streaming down my face, feet hurting me from walking all this long distance, do you think that that man would pull out a chair for me to sit on and offer me a nice cold glass of lemonade from the jug he had on the table next to him? And from which he had poured himself a nice big glass and was drinking from? No! that man didn’t do that. That man thought he was too high class to show me that respect. That man with his crooked teeth and balding head. That man with his red puffy face, that man sitting there wearing last week’s clothes that my mother had ironed, instead, that man refused to get up and greet me when I got there. That man just sat there watching me, my hands bent down from the heavy weight of his shirts and pants leaning against it. And, do you think that man even got up immediately and took his ironing from my hands? No! that man took his time to walk to where I was still standing on the tied floor of his porch, close to his veranda gate that I opened myself to get inside his veranda.

I looked angrily at this man with his crooked teeth and puffed up face and said loudly ,“Good evening,…….”, and I forced myself to call that man by his name,” Mammy send your ironing for you”, and do you think that that man even gave me a quarter for bringing his clothes to him in that hot sun? Do you think that that show off bald headed man thanked me for bringing his ironing for him down that big hill? Do you think that that man didn’t know that people in the village- women, men, and children were peeping at me from behind their curtains, or staring at me from their front porch ? Feeling sorry for me that I had to walk down that long stretch of road in the hot Sunday sun with the sweat streaming down my face, to bring that man his ironing? Do you think that that man didn’t know that everybody knew that my mother did that man’s ironing for him? Do you think that that man listened to that woman living next to him who told him that he shouldn’t have that poor little girl ,walking in that Sunday evening hot sun to bring his ironing for him ,when he could get into his nice shinny red car parked up in his garage and come and get his ironing? but do you think that man cared? The thing is ,I wouldn’t have minded bringing that man’s ironing to his house for him if that man didn’t have his own transportation, Or, even if that man would have given me a dollar for all my troubles, or even gave me a ride every morning when I passed my scholarship exam to go to High School in the town, or even give me bus fare to take the bus every morning. That man with the big house, the shinny red car, and the crooked teeth.

When that man walked towards me with that smirk on his face, I shoved his clothes in his hand and walked out his veranda. I hated that man so much. I hated that he took advantage of my mother and me by having me walk in that Sunday hot sun to bring his ironing for him when he could just jump in his car and come to my mother’s house to get his ironing. As I walked up that hill on this hot Sunday evening, I cussed this man in my mind for what he was doing to me, and I cussed him a second time for what he was doing to mom.

One particular Sunday evening, I got the chance to pay back that man. That man whose clothes my mother ironed so perfectly every Saturday evening, clothes without a wrinkle or crease in them, clothes that my mother put on her own hangers with the wire handle cutting into my skin as I walked down that hill to his house each Sunday evening. Well, that particular Sunday, my mother went on a bus ride with the church people. They were going to go around the island, so that meant my mom would be gone for the whole day and I had the whole day to plan how I would get back at that man.

In the evening, after I washed up from my bucket of water that I put to get warm in the Sunday evening sun, I put on my best Sunday dress, the one you wore only to church, the one your mother would never ever let you wear just to sit in the house and wait for that man. But, that’s what I did, I put on my best Sunday dress, my only pair of black going out shoes, I washed my hair with yellow washing soap, put a little of my mother’s Vaseline in it and brushed and combed it until it made waves across my forehead, nice soft rolling waves. I went outside to the yard, picked a hibiscus flower, and stuck it on the side of my head with my mother’s hair pin. Then ,I sat on a chair underneath a mango tree and waited for that man. While I waited, I drank some of the ginger beer I had stolen from where my mother kept it in the kitchen for when company came, and I sat there sipping the ginger beer as if it was the most normal thing in the world for me to be dressed in my church clothes and wearing my only pair of black going out shoes, with a hibiscus in my hair, instead of walking down that hill, in the hot Sunday evening sun, my hands bent down with the weight of that man’s ironing. I sat on that hard wooden chair with the straw across the bottom, crossed my legs and slowly sipped my ginger beer. I sipped it slowly so that it wouldn’t finish too quickly because I wanted to have some left for me to sip when that man came to pick up his ironing.

As I sat there waiting for that man, one of my mother’s friend, the one who knew everybody’s business, and that same one who came every Sunday evening to help my mother catch up with the week’s gossip, and whose share of ginger beer I was probably drinking, saw me sitting there dressed in my best church dress, wearing my only pair of black going out shoe with the hibiscus in my hair and opened her mouth in shock. “What, you doing there all dressed up in your good church dress? And where’s you mother? Don’t you have ironing to bring?” I didn’t answer any of that woman’s questions. I just looked at her and kept on sipping my ginger beer. “I guess you mother not here,” she said, your mother won’t let you sit here wearing your best church dress and you not going to church, and besides you going get a licking for not going with the ironing”. I wanted that woman to go away. I didn’t want that woman standing there talking to me when that man came for his ironing. I knew also that that woman would spend the rest of the evening peeping and hiding and waiting for my mother to come so she could tell her that I was wearing my church dress and my only going shoes and that I stole some of her ginger beer and was sitting there underneath the mango tree drinking it as if I didn’t have a care in the world ,and as if I didn’t have that man’s ironing to bring. But I knew that that man had to come and get his clothes or else, what would he wear to work tomorrow or for the rest of the week? So I waited and waited for that man to show up while the little bit of ginger beer I had left was getting smaller and smaller.

When that man finally showed up in his red shinny car on the dirt road in front of my mother’s board house ,dressed in last Sunday’s clothes that my mother had ironed, I was still sitting under the mango tree, still dressed in my good church dress and still wearing my only going out shoes, but the hibiscus on the side of my head just above my ears, had begun to wilt in the hot Sunday evening sun.

Then that man walked up to where I was sitting sipping my ginger beer and said, in a half angry, half apologetic voice “Miss Erma daughter? It sounded more like a question than a statement. I didn’t even look up at that man but continued to sip my ginger beer as if he was not even standing there looking down at me. That man didn’t even know my name after all these years of walking down that hill in the hot Sunday sun bringing that man’s ironing to his house.. Then that man said, “Is my ironing done? I continued to let that man stand there just like all these years when that man left me standing on his veranda without even offering me a chair to sit on or a cup of water to drink. Then, I finally looked up from sipping my ginger beer and answered in a scornful voice, the same voice that man spoke to me in all those years and said, “ your ironing is ready for you.” I got up from the chair and walked towards the house, and that man followed me into the house and I went into the kitchen where that man’s ironing was arranged neatly on wire hangers, and hung from a nail on a shelf near our one good kitchen cabinet, not a crease or a wrinkle on them. I did not even offer that man a chair to sit on or even a glass of water to drink just like all these years when I brought that man’s ironing to his house and that man never even offered me a chair to sit on or a glass of water to drink. I handed that man my mother’s ironing without evening saying a word to him. Then that man turned and said, “Thank you”. to me and I was surprised. All these years I brought that man’s ironing to him he had never said thank you to me. After that man left, I hurried to the room to take off my good church dress and my one black going out shoes and threw away the hibiscus flower before my mother got home. But it was too late. When I went outside to see if my mother had come back from her church outing, I saw my neighbor in our yard talking to my mother and I heard her saying, “You know Irma, the child was right not to go down that hill in that hot Sunday sun to bring the ironing…..” but, I knew I was in for a licking even if it was just for putting on my good church dress and wearing my one black going out shoes when I wasn’t even going to church. But, to my surprise, my mother never asked me anything about that day and she never asked me to bring that man’s ironing to his house anymore. But, every Sunday evening after that, I would look out the window and watch that man drive up the dirt road in his red shinny car, wearing my mother’s ironing from last Sunday, and I would watch that man as he came into the house to collect his ironing and I would that man as he walked back to his car with my mother’s ironing in his hand, not a wrinkle or a crease in them, and I would smile for a long time, a big scornful smile.

© Copyright 2018 Rosemarie Mitchell. All rights reserved.

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