“You always have to sort your laundry,” her mother always said. “Separate the lights from the darks, at the very least. Try to get all the bright colors in one load, at least for the first few washes, than you can mix them with the dark.”

Yes, ma.

“Remember how daddy got his pink shirt?”

Yes, ma.

“Just remember to sort, and you’ll be fine. And don’t use fabric softener on your towels, they’ll stay softer that way.”

Yes ma, yes ma.

She grinned, stuffing towels, light and dark together, into the machine. A bra clung to one of the towels by the hooks. She chuckled. She slid the bra up, hoping to get it off the towel without problem. She laughed. A thread tugged lose from the towel, insisting on clinging to the bra strap. She laughed harder. Laughed and laughed.

Laughter turned to sobs. Shaking sobs. Great, gasping sobs that left her clutching at the edge of the washing machine for balance. Yes ma, yes ma. You haven’t talked to me since I needed a bra, ma. She plucked the thread from the bra and dropped both into the machine. Your son had died, ma, and you never wanted a daughter. She admonished herself through tears about not sorting laundry.

Yes ma, sorry ma.