Laundry Day

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Thanks for joining us tonight as we take a peek into the quiet, simple lives of one boy and his favourite companion.

Let us gently rinse away our worries and tension of the day.

There’s a laundry room on the basement floor of the dormitory building where Arthit stays. It’s shared among all the students who live in the same building complex. Most of them do their laundry in the late morning or early afternoon of the weekends, shuffling in and out of the room with their large linen drawstring bags and plastic baskets. By Sunday evenings, the several dozens of machines have gone through thirty or more cycles, finally whirring to a quiet sigh of rest as dusk settles in view of the hazy windows.

Arthit likes to do his laundry in the last hours of the evenings, his last errand of the day before he returns to his room for bed. He prefers having the room all to himself, so he can take his time, stretching and unravelling each item in his basket until all the deepest creases are smoothed out, all his socks are turned right side out, and the pockets of his favourite jeans are emptied of any loose change and stray receipts.

Tonight, he’s washing his darks. Most other residents of the dorm don’t bother with separating their washes, choosing instead to throw all their clothes in with each other like a technicolour whirlpool where all the different hues fade into each other, blending together into a bubbly, nonsensical smoothie. 

Arthit, however, prefers to at least separate his darks from his lights, as his wardrobe mostly consists of crisp white t-shirts and his several deep, crimson red workshop jackets. He doesn’t have an issue with wearing pink, but he just doesn’t think the colour suits him well, already possessing a naturally rosy complexion.

He walks over to his favourite machine in the back corner of the room. He likes that one in particular, partly because he’d been using it since the first time he’d ever visited the laundry room. It’s also his favourite because it makes just the right amount of white noise, a steady, background hum – not too loud, and without the distracting clicks of a loose hinge or rickety part. The consistent, muffled sloshing of water that occasionally whirs into a pleasant trickling sound as the soapy liquid drains from the machine.

It’s on the bottom row, right next to a large window that overlooks a quiet road within the campus. Even though the window is often translucent with a steamy haze from the humidity of spring, you can still make out the warm glow of a street lamp. Every now and then, a car stumbles by, luminating the walls with a passing wash of white, followed shortly by a faint red that lingers until the car’s tail lights disappear from view. The room itself is lit with warm white fluorescent tubing, carefully tucked away out of view behind the moulding of the artificial ceiling. It’s not too dim, nor so bright that it overwhelms you. It simply makes you feel lovely.

Arthit likes to sit on a long wooden bench that’s pushed up against one wall opposite the familiar machine while his cycle is running. As it happens, there’s nothing too unique about it. It’s just your average wooden bench, a long slab of birch lumber that stretches about one and a half metres. But Arthit can tell you that it’s the perfect bench to accommodate his weight, with just the right amount of give as he settles, the wood cool and vibrating slightly from the machine next to it, like a soothing lullaby for his tired muscles. Some days, he likes to stretch out on the bench, lying down with his back flat against the wooden panel, his knees pulled up slightly at an arch, as he’s too tall to straighten his legs out fully.

Tonight, though, after he’s put his own clothes in their usual machine, he waits, not adding detergent, not setting the washing mode, nor shutting the machine door. Instead, he sits on the bench, his posture slightly curved with relaxation, his shoulder blades gently pressed up against the wall. 

He pulls out his phone from the front pocket of his comfortable, grey sweatpants, the inner lining warm and soft with its gentle terrycloth. He’ll later go to sleep without them, but something about wearing them in the warm, dry air of the room brings him a tender feeling, like a loved one gently rubbing his hair dry with a large, fluffy towel. 

He’s in the mood for some music; nothing too rhythmic or with a prominent resounding bass line, but rather a collection of warm, brilliant acoustic tracks, imperfectly harmonising with the hum of the tumble dryer. He puts one earbud in, tilting his head backwards to lean against the wall, his chest rising and falling slowly and steadily as he closes his eyes and waits.

He’s on the second song of his playlist when he hears the door of the room click open quietly, followed by the gentle slapping of sandals against the blue linoleum floor. The corners of his mouth turn up ever so slightly. He doesn’t have to open his eyes to know who’s there. 

It’s Kongpob. 

Or, in their moments alone together, just…Kong. 

In recent months, they’d agreed to do their laundry together, both so that they wouldn’t have to wait several weeks to justify doing a full load, and because Kong, too, prefers to separate his darks and lights.

Kong smiles softly upon seeing his boyfriend’s peaceful, half-drowsy state, a whisper of exhale escaping slightly parted lips as he just…breathes. He makes slow, careful work of unwinding and disentangling his own clothes to prepare them for the machine. Kongpob puts his own socks and his familiar red workshop jacket into separate mesh laundry bags, so that they don’t get mixed up with Arthit’s almost identical clothes. While the two of them are of similar height, Kong has slightly broader shoulders, and wears his jacket just a size up from the other boy.

With all his clothes now in the barrel of the machine, he gently shuts the door in place with a click, bidding a temporary farewell to the pile of fabric behind the thick fisheye lens glass. The detergent they like to use has a clean, refreshing scent. ‘Citrus Breeze’, it’s called. And that’s exactly the kind of fragrance that Arthit likes; reminding him of the familiar smell of Kong’s grapefruit shampoo, a smell that calms his nerves like an energising embrace. 

Kong, on the other hand, likes the sweet, earthy aroma of lavender and thyme, which is what he’s opted for as their fabric softener. The calming, syrupy perfume mimics for Kong the taste of Arthit’s favourite pink drink, mixed with the unique breathlessness of their first few slow, nervous kisses. He doesn’t tell his boyfriend that’s why he likes it, but then again, Arthit has never questioned it.

Kong clicks the dial on the front of the machine until the faded grey line stops at Cotton Mix. Then, he pulls out the handful of 10 baht coins, laying them out flat in a row on his open palm, before gathering up four of them in his other hand, inserting them one by one, listening as they roll their way down the machine’s coin slot. The rest, he pockets for now, reserving them for the dry cycle. He watches and listens as the machine begins to fill the stainless steel drum with warm water, submerging the deep hues until they become several murky shades darker.

And with that, he stands up slowly, moving over to the bench to join Arthit. He doesn’t sit too close; just enough that their thighs are pressed gently against each other, the warmth of each other’s bodies permeating into the other’s clothes. Kong can hear the faint hum of music coming from the loose earbud, the other one still placed in Arthit’s left ear. He takes the stray bud and inserts it his own right ear, shifting in his posture slightly so that his back is straightened, flat against the cool, dry wall.

They simply sit and breathe next to one another, falling into a lucid, ethereal state, listening to the gentle whirr of the single machine, and half of a simple tune in their respective ears. As a second hand of the wall clock ticks faintly in the background, Arthit grows drowsier with each slow second, and eventually, his head begins to droop to his left, where it naturally falls softly onto a warm, firm shoulder. Kong sighs in content, nudging his cheek ever so slightly against the soft, rustling head of ebony hair, breathing in a waft of Arthit’s green tea and mint scented shampoo.

As the clothes tumble in endless circles of a dream-like vortex, so do the two boys fall into a restful, tranquil slumber, not to be stirred until the cycle comes to a natural finish. 

In case it isn’t clear, this isn’t really meant to have any plot or meaning; it’s purely designed to help the listener gradually fall asleep. This somewhat silly idea came to me because I’m somebody who has trouble sleeping due to rumination OCD, so I often listen to meditation podcasts to help me take my mind off any spiralling thoughts I might have. One night, though, I ended up thinking about this scenery instead of actually going to sleep. So let’s call it an experiment in creating some relaxing, ASMR-style KongArt fic. This isn’t really for anyone other than myself but I thought I’d share it anyway. If you do like it, let me know, and I might just make more. 

Do excuse my voice if it sounds more weird to you than relaxing. I’m more accustomed to doing voiceovers for my school’s PA system than this kind of thing. I also naturally have more of a Southern British accent (although only vaguely), so this is me trying to be more consistently American-sounding. If you’d like to hear my more natural accent, though, I’d be willing to try that out. Let me know what you think! Any (especially constructive) feedback is welcome <3 

Goodnight, loves.

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