An Odd Pair
Socks can’t talk, of course, they have no mouths to speak with and no ears to hear with. But they can THINK, and think they do, and their solemate thinks back, which all in all makes for very efficient communication.
It is rare for humans to connect with socks the way that other socks do, many humans see them as purely practical creations designed solely to protect the feet from chafing in shoes. But some people (often very clever ones) see socks as more than functional – they see them as something special, a means of self expression, or a way to brighten up a dull day.
Alex was one such person. Where other children collect cars or dolls or teddy bears, Alex collected socks.
From pink and green stripes to blue with white spots and even a pair with orange and purple zig-zags, Alex’s sock collection was very impressive indeed.
But there was one pair he loved most of all, a glorious pair that made him feel almost invincible when he put them on.
They were a very vivid red with bright yellow lightning bolts running down the sides, but the really magical thing about these socks was the way the lightning bolts glittered.
Any way Alex walked those bolts would catch the light and sparkle cheerily.
Even at night-time he could see them glinting slightly from across the room.
These socks knew that they were special to Alex and he was special to them. They loved being worn by someone who appreciated their fine colours and the majestic glitter on their sides.
While some socks, tired of being stretched across human hoofs all day, will sneak away into a dark corner and hide, baffling their owners, these socks had agreed they would never leave Alex as long as he would have them.
Now if this were just the tale of very loyal socks it would be dull indeed, which means that misfortune must unfortunately strike.
One day they were hanging on the washing line, enjoying the warm sun and thinking deep thoughts to one another like what makes the sky blue, or where clouds come from, when the wind picked up.
At first the socks enjoyed swinging in the breeze, but soon it started to get too strong.
The socks flapped to and fro with increasing ferocity as the wind grew stronger, until SNAP! one sock’s peg broke clean in two!
Before the second sock could do anything the first sock was off and flying.
Up over the fence and away it flew, rising above trees, houses and bridges.
The wind moved fast, tossing the little sock about.
After what seemed an awfully long flight the wind subsided, and the little sock fell down through leaves and branches, until sproing! It caught on a small twig and came to rest there.
Back at home, Alex’s mums were taking the washing off the line, when mummy saw the sock, hanging all alone on the line.
“Oh no!” she said, “where’s Alex’s sock?”
Mumma came to see what the problem was, and immediately started searching the backyard.
Alex’s mums searched high and low for the missing sock – under trees and bushes, behind the shed, under the raised patio where the spiders liked to make their home, but it was to no avail – the sock was nowhere to be found.
Alex was very sad indeed to find his sock was gone. That night he slept fitfully, the traces of tears still evident on his face, the remaining sock clutched in his little hands.
The remaining sock was sad too. It had tried to think out to it’s pair in the hopes it could find out that it was ok, but the distance between them was too great and it’s pair could not hear it.
Many kilometres away the other sock was feeling very uncomfortable. It was breezy in the tree where it had come to rest, and the branches were poking it in all manner of awkward places. The sock was fairly certain it would be stuck in the tree for the rest of it’s days, as it could not see any way to get itself down, stuck as it was.
But help was at hand in the form of a rather curious ringtail possum. The possum, who lived in the tree that the sock was currently inhabiting, had never seen a sock before, let alone one with a glittery lightning bolt on the side!
The possum cautiously made its way towards the glittery sock to investigate what this strange new thing was. It sniffed at the little sock, which was quite terrified that it was about to become possum food. But then, SNAP! The possum stepped a little too close, and the twig holding the sock broke.
Down, down, down the little sock fell, coming to rest on the soggy ground at the base of the tree. There it lay for quite some time – it could have been a few days or even a few weeks, for socks have a very limited understanding of the concept of time.
If it had understood time better it would have been able to discern that every morning it grew quite damp, due to condensation in the air as the day heated up, before drying out again thoroughly in the afternoon when the sun was at it’s peak. All the sock really knew was that it was very uncomfortable being where it was, and would much prefer to be at home in it’s warm, dry sock drawer.
Then, one day, an eager little dog made its way over to the tree. This little dog, known to his doggy friends as George, but called Sweetums, Fluffle and Snooky by his overly affectionate owner, was a champion fetcher. He would fetch almost anything, from balls to stuffed toys to his owner’s shoes, although she never seemed to be quite so happy about that.
Today she had taken him for a walk without anything to fetch, telling him it would be nice to go for a brisk walk instead. George didn’t understand this strange new thing, but he was happy enough bouncing around and exploring the world without something to chase after.
Still, his fetching instincts were strong, and when George came up to the tree, following the scent of a dog who had been there before (he believed it to be Charlie, a friendly Doberman from down the street) he saw the little sock lying there, half buried by fallen leaves, and decided that although he did not know what it was it looked like it probably needed fetching.
So fetch he did – he picked the little sock up in his little jaws and trotted happily back to his owner. She was rather surprised to see the sock in his mouth.
“What’s that Snooky-wooky? Drop it please,” she coaxed.
Charlie was usually quite obedient, but he was very pleased with his find and wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet. Instead he tossed his head defiantly and trotted away from her.
“Snooky! Drop that!” his owner shouted chasing after him.
In his jaws, the little sock fervently wished the dog would listen to her.
Finally, Charlie began to tire of the game of cat-and-mouse with his owner. He carefully placed the sock on the ground then looked up at her wagging his tail with delight at having found such a lovely thing to fetch.
But his owner wasn’t quite so delighted.
“A sock,” she cried, “why would you pick up a dirty old sock Sweetums? That’s yucky!”
The sock was rather offended at that. Certainly it wasn’t quite as clean as it would like to be, but, it reasoned, she probably wouldn’t look so good either had she been lying in the dirt under a tree for as long as it had.
Sadly the sock’s huffy thoughts went unrecognised by Charlie’s owner, which is not surprising since a sock in a huff looks remarkably similar to a sock at any other time.
Instead the owner simply clipped Charlie’s lead back onto his collar, deciding he was far too naughty to stay off-leash, and continued with her brisk walk.
The little sock was left lying on the ground once again, though this time it was in the middle of a grassy field instead of under a tree. It wasn’t entirely sure whether this was a good change or not, but it reminded itself of a saying it once heard; a change is as good as a holiday.
The sock remained unconvinced that this was true – a holiday generally brought lots of nice things, like new footpaths to walk on and new floors to slide on, whereas this change from house sock to free-range sock had not brought any kind of nice things like that.
Still, at this point a holiday looked rather unlikely, so it decided it may as well be positive about the change.
However, this newfound positivity was somewhat diminished that afternoon when hockey practice started.
At first the sock was pleased to see feet about – where there are feet there are socks, and it hoped that if it thought very hard one sock or another might hear it and be able to help it to get back home.
The fact that socks do not have limbs with which to reach out to one another or mouths with which to communicate with their humans (who do have limbs which prove very useful for things like the picking up and putting down of things) did not occur to the sock to present any real obstacle.
But then the whistle blew and all the feet around the little sock started to run, taking little care to avoid things like socks that happened to be lying in the middle of the field.
Several times the sock cringed as feet went thundering past, chasing after a bright orange ball. Suddenly this change did not seem so good, and the sock longed to be back under the tree where it at least didn’t have to worry about being trodden on.
Just as the little sock began to give up hope, something wonderful happened. A slightly clumsy little girl called Tiffany tripped over her own hockey stick and fell, her freckled face landing right in front of the sock.
The sock was delighted to see Tiffany, though she was not so delighted to have landed face down in the dirt. She sat up as several parents broke ranks to run over and make sure she was ok.
Tiffany was not the sort of little girl to cry when she fell over, in fact it happened so often she was quite accustomed to it, and found all the fuss rather annoying.
As she got up (with the help of several over-anxious parents who didn’t seem to realise she had been standing up since she was quite small and was perfectly capable of doing so on her own), something caught her eye.
The light was glinting off something in the dirt where her face had been just moments ago.
As the coach shoed her helpers off the field, Tiffany bent down, picked up the little sock with the glittery lightning bolts and put it in her pocket!
The sock, overjoyed with it’s unexpected rescue, thought very profuse thanks to the girl, although she could not hear them.
After practice as Tiffany and her parents walked home, she slid the little sock out of her pocket and over the head of her hockey stick.
She decided it looked rather fine there, its lightning bolt glittering in the fading afternoon light. But when her parents saw it they were less impressed.
“Where did you get that filthy thing?” her father asked.
Tiffany shrugged awkwardly. She had a feeling that if she said she had picked it up from the mud at hockey practice she would be made to get rid of it, and she liked the way it looked.
“Well for goodness sake, you can’t use it looking like that. Give it to me, I’ll put it in the wash,” he said impatiently.
The following week Tiffany came to hockey practice, the freshly cleaned sock looking grand atop her hockey stick. When her teammates saw they were very impressed indeed, and by the following week the whole team was sporting a variety of brightly coloured socks on their hockey sticks.
Tiffany was delighted to have started this fun trend. Her clumsiness on and off the hockey field meant she was sometimes disregarded by her teammates, so it was nice to be known for something other than falling over.
Slowly the trend grew as opposing teams saw it and picked it up themselves. Several ovals away, Alex saw some of the kids from a different team using socks for hockey stick covers. He was so excited that he ran straight over to where his mums were chatting with some of the other parents.
“Mummy, Mumma, LOOK!” he cried.
“What is it?” Mumma asked, looking slightly alarmed.
“They have socks on their hockey sticks!” Alex exclaimed. “Now I can use my sock again!”
Although they did not get quite as excited as Alex had, his mums were quite happy about the revelation. Alex had spent several weeks mourning the loss of his sock. Despite their best efforts they had been unable to find a second pair, and his fussiness over always wearing matching socks meant he couldn’t even wear it with a different sock on the other foot.
His remaining sock was quite happy when it was taken out of the drawer and placed on top of the hockey stick – it was still sad to be away from its pair, but at least it was being used again, which was a very nice feeling.
The following weekend Alex showed up to his hockey game, his remaining sock sparkling proudly from atop his hockey stick when, from across the field, he saw a matching sock sparkling back!
Tiffany saw Alex’s sock at the same time, and both children began to run towards each other, when squelch-THUMP! Tiffany slipped on the damp grass and landed on her back.
“Are you ok?”
A worried looking Alex peered down at her.
“Y-yeah, I’m fine!” Tiffany replied, struggling to get her breath back.
Alex looked relieved, and offered her his hand to get up. Once Tiffany was back on her feet they stood awkwardly for a second, neither one sure what to say.
“I like your sock!” Tiffany said finally, breaking the silence.
“Thanks!” Alex explained, and launched into an explanation of how its pair had gone missing. Before long they were chattering to each other at a mile a minute, and both were startled when the whistle blew for the match to begin.
After the game as everyone was packing up Tiffany came running over to Alex. She skidded again, but managed to catch her balance before she fell.
“You can have your sock back if you want,” she said, puffing slightly.
Alex thought about it for a short time.
“No,” he replied, “You can keep it. But maybe you could bring it over to visit sometimes?”
Tiffany beamed at the prospect, and before long they had organised the first of many visits. Alex went home that day with a big smile on his face. He had lost a sock, but gained a friend.
And as for the socks, they were quite happy to be able to spend time together when Alex and Tiffany visited each other and saw each other at hockey.
When the children moved up to bigger hockey sticks they put the socks back together and Alex kept them in his memory box where they remained his favourite socks, thinking lovely thoughts to each other for the rest of their lives.