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Five o’clock in the morning, and the blood had flooded that city as high as an adult’s knee. The majority of the citizens weren't curious about the source of the blood. Maybe there’s no difference with the normal-monthly flood, they thought. Maybe not only rivers who have the right to be overflowed. So, they decided to do their activities, normally that day.

Marni rubbed the bloodstained high school uniform and skirt in the bathroom, until her wrinkled hand skin ached, until she was three per four dead—in some certain seconds, she imagined rubbing Toni Anwar’s face with a rock. If ten minutes later this bloodstain still can’t be clean, she thought, I will give up and go to sleep immediately. Ten minutes passed quickly and vainly; Marni’s bones became falling dust. She angrily growled, as she slammed the uniform and skirt down in the laundry bucket. The foam in the bucket splashed into her weary eyes, and she angrily growled again, as she walked towards the tap with closed eyes.

Marni entered the front room. That room was filled with four washing machines, clothing shelves, a cashier table, a clothes scale, a television with a broken screen—because Marni broke it yesterday afternoon—etcetera. She turned the lamp on, so she could look at the wall clock, it was two o’clock in the morning. She angrily growled for the third time, because she thought that she wouldn’t wake up at five o’clock soon. She opened the empty washing machine, and threw the bloodstained uniform and skirt into that. It was for the umpteenth time that the uniform and skirt whirled inside the washing machine.

Marni went to her bedroom thinking, If the bloodstain still can’t be clean, I’ll not take care of it anymore. It’s better if I apologize to its owner, and give her money as compensation.

Normally, there wouldn’t be any problem with a washing machine that worked without Marni’s presence. Marni usually left the working washing machine and the machine would stop automatically in accordance with the specified time, but that morning, an unpredictable problem happened. From the gap on the door of the whirling washing machine, the blood flowed. In the beginning, it only stained the front room floor, but hours later it flooded the city.

Marni wandered to some laundries around her home, on foot, until her old breath faltered.

“Are your washing machines broken?” That was the first question of the laundresses.

“No. If they’re broken, I must take all of my customer’s laundries here, not just this uniform and skirt,” Marni replied.

So …?”

To all of the laundresses, Marni explained that she already tried painfully hard to clean that uniform and skirt from yesterday. Moreover, Marni had soaked them for twenty-four hours. Her explanation was such as nobody was willing to take them over. That was enough to make Marni’s fontanel squirt blood.

But immediately, she was able to calm herself down. And she was still calm, untill a laundress, whom she visited last, asked, “Marni … did you watch Toni Anwar’s trial yesterday afternoon?”

Marni’s expression suddenly changed as though rotting fruit.

Marni ....”

I’m okay,” she interrupted, before walking away to her home as stifling her cry. The image of Marina, hanging in her bedroom years ago, crossed Marni’s head.

The evening seemed almost done. Marni was determined to rub the uniform and skirt again until both were totally clean, although it would take a long time until the end of the day.

Marni dreamed that she entered the bathroom naked. On the bathroom corner, there was a laundry bucket filled with soapy water, where the bloodstained uniform and skirt soaked. Marni walked unsteadily to the tub, took the water dipper, and approached the laundry bucket. Instead of splashing her body with clean water in the tub, she splashed her body with soapy water in the laundry bucket. And in the other corner of the bathroom, all of a sudden, stood Toni Anwar with his cunning smile.

Marni awakened and found herself wet in bed. She screamed, “Marina!!!” and sobbed. She didn’t too understand why she screamed her deceased daughter’s name. That scream got out of her mouth as if carbon dioxide she exhaled unconsciously. Is this because that high school girl looks like Marina?

A pale-skinned high school girl came to Marni’s home front room, minutes after Marni hit her television screen with a brick. That time Marni’s weep already abated. That girl wore a white high school uniform and skirt that was stained with fresh blood. There was no obvious source of the blood; Marni didn’t see any opened wound on her body. The girl’s gaze looked empty, as if she didn’t see Marni in front of her. As Marni awkwardly asked what she could help, the girl didn’t say anything. The girl only put her uniform and skirt off, put them on the clothes scale, and went out immediately, only in her underwear that bloodstained too.

“Hey! I can lend you my clothes if you want!” Marni said loudly from behind the cashier table.

The girl didn’t answer and ran abruptly. Marni tried to chase her, but she lost her trace. And she thought that there was no need to continue to chase her, because her customer's laundry was very many.

Toni Anwar, a public figure, was arrested. Finally, he had been proven that he had raped dozens of his students at pesantren1 since some years ago. And that morning, a television channel did a live broadcast of his trial. Marni watched the trial from behind the cashier table, with sadness and anger that drowned her whole head inner side. She imagined Marina stood beside her, also watching the trial emotionally.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, after a long battle of arguments—that hard to understand for Marni—in the courtroom, the trial ended: Toni Anwar found not guilty. Marni screamed angrily, ran to the side of the street, picked up a brick that happened to be there, and used it to hit her television screen.

When the sun evaporated the overflowed blood, vaguely smelled a strange aroma. Whoever smelled that aroma confused to conclude whether that aroma was good or not. But some of them realized that aroma affected a thing under their belly. A thing that got warm abruptly and pulsed. Those affected by that aroma then, all of a sudden, encouraged themselves to dive into the flooded blood, and never seen back to the surface ....

*) Note: This short story is inspired by Saksi Mata by Seno Gumira Ajidarma.

BIO

Surya Gemilang was born on Denpasar, March 21, 1998. His books are: Mengejar Bintang Jatuh (short stories, 2015), Cara Mencintai Monster (poems, 2017), Mencicipi Kematian (poems, 2018), dan Mencari Kepala untuk Ibu (short stories, 2019). His other writings can be find in more than ten collective anthologies and Indonesian mass medias, like: Kompas, Koran Tempo, Suara NTB, Bali Post, Riau Pos, etc.

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