Eight Stories about Ironing (Revision)

Iron

Iron (n.): a handheld device used to steam press clothing and eliminate wrinkles. Despite the name, modern irons are made with a stainless steel sole plate, so as to keep irons durable and rust-free. In modern usage, the term “iron” is often used as a metaphor to describe the process of leveling out an article or spirit using any tool regardless of whether one actually uses an iron to do so. The ultimate goal of an iron is to flatten.

Baba Yaga

In some versions of the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga, she irons out the path behind her so no one can tell where she’s been. I just made this up.

Janet

Janet hated doing laundry but she loved to iron. As soon as her husband threw off his shirt or tie upon returning home, she would snatch the bits of clothing and begin ironing. She never kissed him when he walked through the door. He never got so much as a “Welcome home, honey.” Janet’s husband hypothesized that she did this because she is a neurotic bitch with a withered vagina. Her therapist thought the same thing, though instead he told her that she was trying to gain control over her life by ironing clothes. She needed to get out of the house, maybe volunteer or take dance lessons. Janet wonders if this was all true, even the part about the withered vagina (though no one said a thing, Janet is actually very perceptive). She decides she’s going to take up the hobby of ironing more. You see, when Janet irons, all traces of her husband go away. Gone are the scent of his sweat and cologne; gone the cardboard dust aroma from the storage room in the office; gone the smells of his secretary’s unwithered vagina. Gone.

Inventors

The inventor

Iron Age

Philosophers and historians say that time is cyclical. Or it repeats itself. The Dark Age and the Iron Age repeat themselves in one form or another, as do the Inquisition, the witch trials, and the Red Scare. I don’t know about such things. I’m not a philosopher. Or a historian. But I do repeat myself.


Confession

I was taught to iron on an 8×8 inch square of fabric. This did not prepare me for ironing out oddly-shaped clothing with thick collars and obtrusive sleeves. It did not prepare me for bumpy buttons and embossed patterns. Nor was I prepared for burned clothes and burned hands. It also did not prepare me for heartbreaks and hangovers and sucker punches.  I remain unprepared for the fickle hearts of women and the affairs of men. My life is limited to this 8×8 inch of fabric and I still can’t quite get that last crease to go down.

Baba Yaga Again

I heard she kidnaps children, steals their bones and then irons out their skins to hang and dry outside of her chicken leg house. Okay. I made part of that up, too… don’t judge me. Look at yourself.

Paul & Susan

Paul always did it himself. Started his own company. Self-made millionaire. Business trips on his own coin. Ironed his own clothes at the end of each day. One day, they found him at the front of the hotel, smashed into pavement and surrounded by broken glass. His death was documented, photographed, and he was filed away in the morgue.

Susan didn’t want to be young or sexy. She just wanted her face to be perfect. She hated stubble and the texture of a burning log in the fireplace. She went online and looked for porn of people wearing masks. Her favorite was comedy and tragedy masks, but those are hard to find. She read about Paul in the newspaper and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Susan got Botox and didn’t have to worry about choices anymore.

The Ghost of Iron

The ultimate goal of the iron is to flatten. There is a mass grave – a surplus of irons that have done their job and gone to rest. Their ghosts still haunt us, clinking on chains woven from Jacob Marley’s skin. Every year, they come to this very spot, bury their faces in the ground, and howl into pillows made of dirt.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

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