Down the Sock
Lydia rinsed off her breakfast plate, cleared and wiped the table, grabbed two bottled waters, and headed toward the studio. Lane had already been there about a half hour, getting things set up, adjusted, and ready for this day’s work. This day’s work yes, sure. Another this day’s this one; just another. Odd, odd. Very odd. How many this days does the average person wind into and pass over on the way to the last? Lydia paused a moment on the second of the three rooms to be passed through to join Lane—wait, huh. What’s this—is this a sock on the floor here? Yes, so. Who just threw their sock down here? So wrong—who—oh, of course. Lane. Lane—no, no, careless much too careless Lane—always the same, always, that man. Pausing there, she stooped to get it. The material felt soiled. Soiled, and damp. Damp with whatever’s wet a person’s foot exudes in the passage through a day, but—this very spot, and this sock on this very spot both lay on the route from the laundry room below, then across here, and around, in and up the stairs to the bedrooms. Uh. Uh. That would mean it’s a clean sock. But; it feels damp and soiled but ah eh; the big truth here, is that here’s a sock, Mrs. Lydia VonderStein. Plus, this is not just any old sock. This is the sock you will commune closely with this day, Mrs. Lydia VonderStein. You must guess, after thirty seconds of rubbing otherwise fondling sniffing eyeballing and sure why not, hey, hey, for what’s at stake here, licking. Clean or dirty. Dirty or clean. Perhaps perhaps—ut oh Mrs. Lydia VonderStein, you will have thirty seconds to decide. That ought to be simple, eh Mrs. Lydia VonderStein? And, following on, there’s a bonus wild card question. Which is; is the mate of this single sock lost, meaning it will never ever again be worn, or is the separation merely temporary? And there’s additionally, an additionally additional series of pseudo-questions, to be asked and answered, as a last resort if you fail to answer the others correctly, which is; what type of person are you, in this sense; is it important for a given pair of socks to remain together for the duration of their uses and washings and uses and washings? Which means, by way of explanation, that if one or other of the pair is lost, are you the type that feels that the orphan sock must be discarded immediately, or are you the type that feels that the sock can simply be mated with an orphan sock of another pair? Like—a second marriage—the decision will also be easy to make, because no married sock pairs have ever done what it takes to give birth to a baby sock. The wellbeing of the young of any known species is therefore not a factor. Neither male nor female sock was ever born of a pair of its own. As a matter of fact, Mrs. VonderStein, socks actually are well advanced and have no need to sexually reproduce. Accordingly—Lydia jolted--ah—a woman has invaded—waking from not sleeping—my body and I—the stray sock dangled—am not her size—from her hand where in the jolt for less than an instant, the space around her grey jelled invisibly, sending into her a signal all saying, It is twice as hard to move now; and causing her to ask herself, What, ‘n why, am I standing here, now? What is this sock—oh yes it lay in my path to the studio; what, how, oh, right—gosh; I must have not got sufficient sleep last night—what to do with it depends on why it’s here, good golly—what could be simpler? She tossed it on a small marble topped table by the door leading to the studio, but then; right then; no; what if it is a dirty sock—smelly, and sodden, it may mark the marble tabletop this tables all antique, you know. The frail old big-gowned antique lady downstate told her when she considered buying it, Hey, oh. I will only sell it if you promise to keep it spotless. Because this is a special breed of marble. It may look hard as granite and just as impervious, but, it’s actually not. It’s actually quite porous. Aha, I used to joke with my old Charlie, God rest him, I said how do you know it’s so porous are you—
That day back before, a snowfall was intensifying to two inches an hour expected by the magic weather voice enslaved in their custom-made dashboard—which, by the way, could be had attached to a car for only a hundred grand extra—they were anxious to pay for the table, load it in their vehicle, and start the four-hour drive home—but, the woman went on and on, and by her look, obviously while she was busy listening to herself talk, neither Lane nor Lydia’s words would penetrate.
—I said to him, how do you know it’s porous, and lord God, did he get upset, because I know he felt I was saying in some slanty silly way that he must be absolutely wrong. Like, what does he know about all the different kinds of marbles and the different characteristics of each, hey, hey—how should he know but, but—
The perfectly square window behind her seemed to Lydia to be a space age voice-activated wall picture tuned to a channel showing snow falling, and falling, down and down in the dark outside, pulsating in time with the antique woman’s words.
—I said, Charlie, the only way you can know that is if you metamorphosized into some single celled weird kind of mini-micro human and could put your fingers into the pores themselves like that guy in the bible who said who said about the risen Jesus—
I must say something. I must reach out and gently touch her sleeve with a smile, saying, I love the story Madame Marble, but we need to get going, the snow, eh? How much?
—that except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe—
So, Lydia said something and reached out and gently touched her sleeve with a smile saying, I love the story Madame Marble, but we need to get going; the snow’s deep; eh, so. How much for the table?
Suddenly, the table, suddenly—dear God, absorbed Madame Marble into its fine network of pores so quick she felt nothing as she smoothly oozed through. Mercifully, it seemed a painless death. Like the way we all invade our socks, when we push in our feet—the tossed aside, possibly dirty sock, on the marble, came up from the darkness toward the smooth surface of the sea that was always about her that could neither be fully seen, nor fully felt; the dark of the sea we drift through day over day, thinking we see it, not knowing it is entirely invisible—but mercifully, this is impossible to know, because it would blast whoever, whomever—everything about and around us is completely invisible; we just can‘t see it.
Everything about and around us we reach out to touch is really not there; we just can’t feel it. Everything about and around us we strive to know can’t be known; we just can’t know it. Be bottled, be bottled up, be bottled up inside, be bottled up inside tighter, be bottled be bottled up inside tighter than tight—a hand pulled off from touching the sock on the table, the touch of the sock on the table she hadn’t known she’d done, closed the circuit, and; no not again no not the dark sea entirely invisible or the everything that is really not nothing but all we strive to know that can’t be known we just can’t know it is—Lydia, yes, Lydia, no. Oh; there’s a sock on the table. An item of clothing; the items of clothing all around Lydia which she’s actually repeatedly invaded. Reasoning for capacity reduced defense, yours is? Huh, Lydia? Lydia, Lydia, now. Don’t walk away. Lydia, see the table sweet table see the table yes, you bought it. You and Lane bought it on that old snowy day—seeing it proves all, and all is okay because, a sentence using invaded your clothing instead of put on your clothing is not syntactically incorrect. Not syntactically incorrect. Not syntactically. Not.
Lydia! Are you planning to come out to the studio sometime today? said Lane, whose words formed the real doorframe around the door he appeared in, and Lydia came out of—what? What. Oh, yes. This. Here.
Lane; see this sock here? Where did this sock come from? It’s yours.
How should I know? What does it matter?
It’s a bad habit to just leave dirty clothes laying around all over.
All over? Not hardly, Lydia. Leave it there, I’ll throw it in the wash when we’re done recording. Come on.
We got lots of work to do.
Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous venues. His novels include "Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer"(Optional Books), "Understanding Franklin Thompson"(JEF), "Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection"(Mannequin Haus), and "No and Maybe - Maybe and No"(Pski's Porch). New work "Audio Bookies" is forthcoming from J.New Books. Info: www.jimmeirose.com @ jwmeirose