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Sock Horror
Jess Wynne

'We didn't have to return you know. There are places for folk like us. Special plac…'

Tap tap.
Tap tap, tappity tap.
'Hello? Is there anyone there?'
Tap tap TAP TAP
'Ok, ok calm down'.
Paul pads over to the door. The most striking thing about him are his odd socks - one navy, one grey. He opens the door and looks out to be greeted by an empty space. Just as he is about to close the door he hears a strange shuffling noise. He looks down.

A flock of socks shuffle nervously from side to side on the doorstep.

There is a shocked silence which seems to last forever then…
One particularly worn-looking sock steps forward to take centre stage. It coughs hesitantly and says: 'Hello Paul, we're back.'

'Wwhat?', stammers Paul in disbelief. The chief sock (large, greyish-white with a sports motif) is indignant.

'Well really, I thought you'd be just a little bit more welcoming. After all you just don't know the horrors that we've been through trying to get back here'. (The other socks emit murmurs of assent). One sock, a cheap-looking, 'three pairs for a quid' type, steps forward and pointedly reveals a large rip across its middle. Turning away it trips over the long thread which it trails and stares with distaste at Paul from its position in an undignified heap of wool/acrylic mixture. 'We didn't have to return you know. There are places for folk like us. Special plac…'

'What do you want and who the fuck are you?', Paul interrupts, his voice raised in alarm. He is obviously highly freaked out.

'Well, really. There's no need to shout'. Some of the smaller ankle socks are apparently upset and frightened by Paul's outburst and have moved back from the group. They huddle together - shaking and shuddering. ' Obviously some of the less adventurous of our company were missing their partners. I'm afraid that it is a sad fact that in our civilisation we are conditioned into defining ourselves as part of a 'pair'. The desire to break free is, as you can imagine, an all too common affliction. The so-called seven week itch is well-documented and I might add that in today's hedonistic and permissive society, many resist the restrictive and frankly dull regime of the Underwear community much sooner. One visit to the cultural (and smelly) abyss which is the dirty linen basket is quite often all it takes…Anyway I seem to have gone off on a tangent. The reality of the situation is that many of us missed the comfort of our drawers and…'

Paul, who hasn't really been able to take in any of the verbose sock's meandering, suddenly registers a look of realisation.

'You're my socks aren't you. You! You lot at the back! You're my girlfriend's socks. Where have you been?'

A tall stripy officious looking sock barks:

'Important official sock business, sir. It's classified. I am not at liberty to divulge anything pertaining to our travels if indeed any have occurred'.

Sporty Sock attempts to smile reassuringly. 'Look Paul, Basically it's like this. We have been away, now we are back, and we would really appreciate it if you could put us back with our partners. We could continue with our jobs, providing warmth and comfort for you feet, no questions asked. Ok?'

' Yeah right. I see. I suppose you’ve all been off on an all-inclusive in Barbados with all my biros and spare keys', Paul answers with just a hint of sarcasm.

Many of the newer, less worldly socks are confused. Stripped of earlier inhibitions they chatter incessantly: What does he mean Barbados? How could he possibly believe we would be able to afford the likes of…Us holidaying with biros, hey that's, like, surreal…I don't even know what he's talking about me, I mean what are biros anyway…oh come on there' s nothing fundamentally wrong with his feet, its just that they…I think a Spareky is a brand of knickers actually…God I despise knickers - no conversation and so flighty…

' We don’t know anything about your biros', Sporty sock asserts wearily, 'You're just being silly now aren't you. Your pens are where you left them right? Anyway, can we at least come in? The cold's going right through me. And it's going to take a great deal of sorting out to match everyone up again.' He glances back at his unruly mob of compatriots with some embarrassment.
'Um yes you better come in'

Squeaks of pleasure can be heard from the flock. Some lithe and supple (ten percent lycra) socks bounce up and down with excitement and perform little dances of delight. Some of the older socks are already brandishing their photos, ready to show their loved ones.

'The thing is…' Paul begins tentatively, his voice guilt laden ' I had a big clearout recently…I was really um, fed up, with the amount of odd socks I seem to have. Even now I can never seem to find a pair…I just didn't realise…'

A ripple of horror runs through the assorted footwear. The sock spokesman stares at Paul in disbelief.

'Are you telling us that our partners, our soulmates, are gone'
'Um yes actually'
'All of them?'
'Pretty much'
'Can you at least tell us where they went?'
'Well they certainly didn't go to sock camp. I mean I threw them out with the trash. I expect they are rotting in some dump somewhe…Oh God I'm sorry I didn't mean it like that…'

A comedy sock given to Paul by a relative at Christmas laughs inappropriately then begins to sob. Paul shuts up, fairly distraught at the turn of events.

The sock spokesman is crestfallen - he has nothing left to say. The other socks are shell shocked, stunned into silence. Their little faces register complete despair. They feel utterly worthless. It begins to rain.

©Jess Wynne 2001

Which is the oddest sock?

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