Evening Wash

Academic, Misc

Illinois Central College

Nancy Heuer-Evans


Evening Wash

Pound, pound, pound was what I felt from the inside of my head. My headache was radially expanding from the center of my brain, hitting my inner skull every one and a half seconds. Grabbing my coat and shoes, I quickly left the dark, damp, corridor of my house, exiting into the wide, brightly lit, hallway of the apartment complex.

Swiftly stepping down the stairs, I flung open the glass door, heading out into the fresh air. The cool breeze hit my face as I walked onto the pavement. The air was cold, but not too cold. In fact, it was just the way I wanted it. That’s because when my head feels heavy, all I want to do is sprinkle my face with cold water, and the breeze was doing that job. The sky was blue, coated with an orange gradient near the place where it collided with the earth. There were a few grey clouds with orange reflection on them. The sunlight shone through the corner of a building and the branches of the leafless trees. The ground was dry, and beside the paved footpath, I could see branches of what would be bright green bushes in the summer. Rocks of many sizes were set beside these bushes for a natural décor. Other places on the ground exposed the dirty-brown soil. Typically during the summer, these places would bloom with green grass and flowers of many colors. This was a perfect winter evening for me.

As I walked through the wide, paved, road with no cars on it, I could see the entire scene more clearly. Buildings and trees surrounded the area; yet, there was a feeling of openness. It was quiet, but a good kind of quiet; the kind of quiet that keeps the car engines away and welcomes the songs of birds. Yes, the sounds of birds were quite soothing. My ears rejoiced their music, and I couldn’t help but give a light smile. As I beheld the beauty, I pondered about the power the song held that made every man on this world love them.

The sun made everything orange, and that was my favorite part of the evening. It was so good that it remains my number one remedy for a bad mood to this day. This time of the evening always reminds me of my early teen years when I realized how much I loved the color the sunset spreads. I used to live in Montreal, Canada in my early teens. In the summer evenings, I would sit at the balcony, reading fiction. The orange light would give a peach tint to everything around me. I would feel the cool breeze. I would hear children talking and laughing on the streets below the balcony. Audible were the French conversations of the people taking an evening walk. It almost feels like a mere dream when I think about that time now, but it was very real.

I had walked across the road and through the greenish brown grass. I was now standing on the large paved area of the ghastly carwash. The reason I call that place ghastly is because in the five years I have lived here, I have never, ever, seen an operator here. I could see the concrete booth, with its pale green door and window closed shut. It had always been closed. I kept thinking that the guy who must run this place has it pretty easy; he apparently never showed up to work. The carwash itself was alive with activity. Of the five slots in the building, four already had cars in it. The drivers were using the pipe to spray soap and water at their car with high speed. The hiss of the spraying was in the air, mixing with the soft thuds of breeze on my ear. I could still hear the birds singing. One car was becoming covered in foam while the other one was beginning to show its red body as water was rinsing the soap off of it.

I got near the slot where a maroon van was being washed. Cold water droplets hit my face. Perhaps I was making the person who was washing the car feel a bit awkward. I would feel the same if a stranger randomly stood near the place I was washing my car. But I had to get the feeling of the cold spray on my face. It was my moment’s desire. But I didn’t stay much longer. I quickly went into the empty slot. The floor was wet from the previous car that washed there. Thick, black, tubes hung from the ceiling. The concrete walls were old, with brown and black stains decorating it. Cracks on the wall provided for a good design. Hey, it was a natural, concrete, wallpaper! At least, that’s the way I saw it. On one of the walls, there was a red box with knobs and dials. The locations of dial were labeled clearly with their functions. There was a small slot for coins. The label on it stated that two dollars was needed to get started with the five and a half minutes of wash, with 25 cents afterwards to expand the time by 40 seconds.

I stood in the slot for a while. My dad used to come here occasionally to wash his car. For him, automatic car wash wouldn’t suffice; hence, he would spray freely here. And the soap, yes, the soap, how could I forget? I would never have enough of the smell of the soap here. I could still smell the soap that filled the air from the previous wash. The soap, oh yes, it invaded my nose and my memories. The smell was the exact same smell that I remember from my childhood days in Bangladesh. I was very young, and we would stay at my grandpa’s house in the country side of Bangladesh. My aunt would give me a bath on a small, concrete bathroom. The bathroom was sized for one person. It had grey, concrete, walls on three sides and a green, steel, door on the fourth side. The ceiling was covered with wavy, rusted, tin with tiny holes on it. The bathroom had no water system. Aunt would bring a tin bucket full of water from the pond and would bathe me. There would be a green bar of soap, which my aunt would scrub all over my body, and the smell from the soap was the one I smelled while standing inside the car wash. The memories of my days in Bangladesh as a child kept racing through my head. I closed my eyes for a while; I noticed that I had forgotten about my headache. In fact, my headache was gone! With that, I headed back towards the apartments.


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