Preview of ‘The Unexpected Pillow’

Fiona finished mopping the kitchen floor, pausing to examine her handiwork. The tiles were old and faded, but gleamed with cleanliness.

Satisfied, she turned to her next task, loading the laundry into the washing machine.

Fiona hesitated. As usual, there was an assortment of clothes filling the basket, but today, on top of the clothes, was a pillow.

Not just the pillow, mind, but the pillow case too, slipped off and folded over on top.

It was so jarring to Fiona that she set the basket down on the counter-top and stared at the offending item.

Fiona knew of course that it was Sora’a pillow. But Sora usually put both of her pillows in the basket once a month, and even than it was at Fiona’s insistence.

This single pillow represented a departure from everything that Fiona knew and was familiar with. It was a minor aberration, but it gave her an unpleasant feeling in the pit of her stomach.

And yet, the pillow was in the laundry basket, so she would have to wash it with the rest of the load. Assuming it would fit, of course.

Fiona snapped out of her contemplation of the pillow and loaded the washing machine. The anxiety that she’d felt started to recede as she found that there was room enough for the pillow and the clothes in the washing machine. Routine began to re-assert itself, as familiar as taking breath.

As she’d done before many times, Fiona filled the powder tray of the machine and pushed it back in. She selected the correct program, turned the machine on and heard the rush of water as it filled up.