Wish N’ Wash
by Kathy Sattem Rygg
“Where are we going?” he asked from the back seat of the car.
“The laundry mat,” his mom said, looking at him in the review mirror of their minivan. “Our new washer and dryer won’t be delivered for another week, and we have all this laundry to do.”
Calvin sighed. He wished he could spend the afternoon playing with friends instead.
When they arrived at the Duds ‘n Suds laundry mat, Calvin heaved the clothing basket inside. The room was crowded with people perched in front of washers and dryers that lined the walls. The machines hummed and churned. He followed his mom to an open machine in the corner.
“Looks like we’ll be here awhile,” she said, sorting the clothes into three piles. Next, she poured in laundry detergent and handed Calvin four quarters. He placed the coins in the slot and started up the washer. The machine whirred to life, filling with water.
Calvin sat down in the hard plastic chair in front of the washer. “I wish I had something to drink,” he said, spotting the vending machine by the door. “Can I have two quarters for a soda?”
“Sorry, I only brought enough quarters for the machines,” his mom said. Calvin grumbled, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
Twenty minutes later the washing machine stopped. “Calvin, will you take the clothes out and put them in a dryer?” his mom asked.
Calvin opened the front of the washer, reached in and grabbed the heavy, dripping clothes. Something fell out of the handful of soggy clothes and clanked in the bottom of the washer. Three quarters! That was enough to get a can of soda from the vending machine and he’d still have one left over. Calvin couldn’t believe his luck.
He tossed the wet clothes into an open dryer and loaded the washing machine with the next pile of clothes. He placed four more quarters in the slot and started it up. He plunked back down into the plastic seat. “I wish I had something to do,” he said. He shuffled to the vending machine and got his soda.
When the washing machine stopped, Calvin jumped out of his chair to switch the clothes. Something fell out of the wet bundle. It rolled along the floor, and Calvin scurried after it. A yo-yo! It was bright red with a yellow swirl in the middle. Where did that come from? He had never seen it before.
He wrapped the string around his finger and tested it out. The yo-yo uncurled, paused just above the floor then rolled back up into Calvin’s hand. He did it again, throwing the yo-yo out in front of him and catching it mid-air when it came back to him.
“Mom! Look what I found!” Calvin showed his mom a yo-yo trick.
“Where did you find that?” she asked.
Calvin shrugged. “It just showed up in the washing machine,” he said. Just like the quarters did after he asked for a soda. Wait a minute. Maybe it wasn’t an ordinary washing machine. What if it granted wishes? Calvin hurried over to the machine and loaded in the pile of clothes. He placed the quarters in the slot. If it was a magic washing machine, he was going to wish for something really good this time.
“I wish… I wish to have special powers!” he said. Calvin hoped a magic wand would show up in the washing machine this time.
Calvin passed the next twenty minutes playing with the yo-yo. As soon as the washing machine stopped, he raced over to it and pulled out the clothes. He shook them one at a time. Where was the magic wand? He stuck his head in the washer. It was empty! Disappointed, Calvin plopped down on the hard chair. The washing machine wasn’t magic after all.
The front door to the Duds ‘n Suds swung open and commotion broke out.
“Eeek!” A woman shrieked. Others jumped up and stood on the plastic chairs. Calvin saw a blur of brown fur dart past the machines.
“There’s a squirrel in here! Somebody catch it!” A man said.
Calvin scanned the room. How would they catch a squirrel in a laundry mat? He spotted their empty laundry basket sitting on top of the washing machine. Calvin climbed on top of the washer and grabbed the basket with both hands. The squirrel hopped up onto a washing machine across the aisle.
“Calvin! What are you doing?” his mom asked.
“I’m going to catch the squirrel!” he said.
“No. You can’t jump that far!” she said.
Calvin crouched low, gripping the upside down basket in front of him. The squirrel flicked its bushy tail. Taking a deep breath, he sprang off the washer. He leaped through the air like he was flying and reached forward with outstretched arms. Calvin landed on the washing machine across from him with a bang and slammed the basket over the squirrel.
“I got him!” he yelled, securing the laundry basket in place. The squirrel chattered at him from underneath the basket.
“Nice job, kid!” A man said. “I’ll get that critter outta here.”
Calvin’s mom gave him a squeeze around the shoulders. “You’re our little hero! Where did you lean to jump like that?” she asked.
Calvin glanced at the washing machine and grinned. It didn’t give him a wand, but it had given him special abilities.
A lady set her laundry basket on top of the washing machine and pulled out a handful of quarters.
“Oh, no. I’m one quarter short,” she said.
Calvin reached into his pocket and pulled out his extra quarter. “Here, you can have mine,” he said.
“How kind of you!” The woman placed the quarters in the slots and started the washer. “First, you catch the wild animal, and now you give out quarters for the machines. I wish you were here more often!” she said.
“Calvin, I just got a message from Dad. The appliance company called, and they won’t have our new washer and dryer for two more weeks. I’m afraid we’re going to have to come back to Duds ‘n Suds next Saturday.”
Calvin placed a hand on the magic washing machine and beamed. “Then we’re going to need a lot of quarters!”
1. What did Calvin find when he was moving the first pile of clothes from the washer to the dryer?
2. What did he hope to find in the washer when he wished for magic powers?
3. What did he use to catch the squirrel?