A story about a pair of socks
|Together forever, should we part we will be one soon
It is cosy comfortable and warm, a gentle breeze whistles through the hot press. ‘It is a little piece of heaven’ Tom whispers to his wife Geri. Geri gently replied ‘Three whole days of this tranquillity and heat’. The couple talked endlessly of their six months together. They had met on the production floor of a large factory. As with all their community, the marriage was arranged. Their fate sealed by a factory operator, joined in matrimony by a plastic tag. That was the moment of their unification. Tom & Geri both relished and cherished that day.
Tom took a secret glance of Geri as she snored her way through the afternoon. Even though to the human eye Tom and Geri looked identical, Tom would never agree. He thought her stripes where more bold, vibrant she felt warm and an air of compassion emanated from her with each breath she exhaled. Being cushioned next to her at that moment felt electric to Tom. Geri instilled emotions and desires he had never felt before. His fibres were tantalized by hers.
Geri suddenly yelped ‘Help’ and Tom felt that all too familiar pain of the master’s clutch. The master yanked them apart almost ripping them as she thrust them over her feet. Geri screamed knowing what was to come next. ‘Tom is those murky smelly black boots yet again’. Both were thrust into them. This was their destiny. They day wore on and as night fell both were released from the tight shroud of the boot. Geri once liberated whispered to Tom is the ‘White water rapids tomorrow’. He stated what the both felt the loss of closeness. Tom thought of the impending trip in the drum of the washing machine and he felt as always a bolt of anticipation and the memory of exhilaration. ‘I love you’ he yelled from one side of the room to Geri who was on the other ‘tomorrow is another day’.
The next bright and sunny morning, their master picked them up off the floor. Once again they were side by side. Both Geri and Tom smiled the washing machine and a ‘rough and tumble’ afterwards lay before them. Secured inside the drum they heard the familiar button being pushed. The sound of the warm water in the pipes was better than any fairground attraction their master had encountered. Tom said ‘Here comes the gush of water’ to which Mary replied ‘it’s the rush Tom’. Both of them laughed dizzy with the constant turning of the drum. The soft bubbles by now had formed soothing their tired and aching fibres. Those feelings of captivation of the long black boots banished to the recesses of their minds. Geri giggled as she tickled Tom. The waves of the water and soft foam sloshing over them dulled all negativity about their destiny. Tom took hold of Geri and lost her again by a wave of water. The drum turned and they fell back into each other arms. ‘Geri I love you, Tom I love you more’. The banter continued until it was drowned out by the spin. As with a fare ground attraction they screamed through the spinning motion, laughed down their fear and chilled when the drain cycle began. Suddenly Geri started to cry as the machine stopped. ‘What if we are parted? Geri muttered through her sobs‘. ‘Now love that never, ever going to happen’. ‘But how do you know?’ Geri responded from a gut instinct. ‘I just do’ said Tom
But even during the rough and tumble of the dryer Geri could not be consoled. ‘What has brought this on?’ Tom said. Geri responded time and time again throughout the cycle ‘I just know’. With love and marriage there are moments of irritation with one’s partner and Tom was feeling this at that moment. ‘Why do women always spoil today thinking about tomorrow’ ‘That is with women always expecting the unexpected’. Fate would never rip them apart. This was their destiny to be together for ever. These thoughts raced around his head as the dryer enveloped his fibres. The breeze stopped and the master opened up the dryer. But much to Tom’s shock and dismay he was not twinned with Geri. He was bundled into a black plastic bag, it felt cold inside and there was a smell of plastic. He could hear a faint cry from Geri but she was in a different bag. Geri screamed ‘Tom what is happening? I saw this last night in my dream’. Tom could decipher this statement but he knew Geri could not hear his response of consolation and hope he was wrapped around a pair of denim jeans muffling the sound of his voice. It was dark, damp and depressing in the bag thought Geri. Her heart ached for Tom but she knew this was something new, an unwelcome beginning.
Tom recognized also that Geri had been right about the impending doom. He relished her scent through the bags, they may be disconnected by sound not by scent. Communication impossible, at that moment it was the power of hope that spurned them on. The hope, that despite black bags they would be together forever.
Their master took three black sacks to the clothes bank. She squeezed the bags crushing all contained into the large tin canister. Geri and Tom could know hear each other but they were separated by many garments. ‘Tom we will be together again!!’ Geri shouted at their arrival in the clothes bank. The smell in the clothes bank was putrid and intense. It was dark, damp and musty. Luckily neither Tom nor Geri could see their stripes were hidden in a ‘Mash, mush of clothes’ as announced by a pair of coarse denim jeans they were almost embossed on. Several of the garments in the canister yelled ‘help’, ‘I can’t breathe’ and a jumper announced the words no one wanted to hear ‘Is this hell? Are we dead?’ Inside the canister scuffles broke out the weight and volume made breathing difficult. Then like a natural borne leader the Denim Jeans (Winston) spoke ‘were not dead, we are on a journey, a new path., we may be unemployed but we are not finished dressing the human empire yet! I beg you all to concentrate on moving slowly to a comfortable position one garment at a time. I fear there will be many injuries to those close to the walls of our new shelter with its smell of must and taste of rust. Tony drew a breath, his audience silenced by his wise words. ‘We are all one at this time and wherever this journey takes us we go together’. Then sighs of relief rang through the canister. Geri laughed when she heard Tom started up a song. Winston was the last to settle and feel asleep to the initial music, story-telling, laughter and chat. ‘Tom I never knew you could sing so well’ Geri said. Geri was then comforted by Tom’s reply ‘I have a whole life time of surprises lined up for you’.
Whilst no fresh breeze whistled through the canister, two days passed without an injury thanks in the main to Winston’s consistent direction when required. For the large part the garments hated the smell but enjoyed the company and the break-away from humans who constantly move, twist, bend. As Winston said ‘as a tight knit unit we stand together, we live in this moment, not the future which is unknown’. Then the future parked up beside the canister. An operator from a charity opened the canister, with Winston’s words fixed in their minds; there was no panic, no crush, just an acceptance. Geri said Tom ‘I had a dream last night that something good in the end will happen to us Tom’, under his breath Tom swore ‘Your bloody dreams got us here!!’ Winston heard it and chuckled with memories of his own dear wife who had passed.
The canister open was now flooded with light, hope filled each and every-one of the garments. Maybe as Winston said ‘It was a new beginning, the future’. As the last bag was placed in the van by the operator Winston declared ‘Whatever happens next we stick together’. ‘That won’t be hard Geri, we are a pair of socks’ everyone chuckled. After a short journey the door to the van was open again to what all the garment thought was their final destination.
Blinded by the bags, volume and weight they could not see the sorting office in front of them, or the shiny new terminal two(Dublin Airport) in the distance. Once inside the building the bags were ripped open slashing and maiming some of the garments. Winston with the aid of light not only spoke to dispel the panic, but wrapped as many garments between his legs as possible to protect them. Tom now close to Geri once more whispered ‘once more we will be together forever no matter what, ok?’ Some of Geri’s fibres were injured in the ripping of the bags. Geri remained silent knowing that if the damage was bad not only herself but her other half Tom would end up in the new incinerator. All were tense as they were loaded up onto the sorting tables. Winston fell silent no words could depict, dispel or comfort his fellow garments throughout this process. The future had now become the present, and it was survival of the fittest. Tom concentrated on the radio playing in the background to steady his nerves. No garment had failed the inspection on his table yet, but he noted for the first time Geri was not in good shape. Geri as a sock due for inspection needed more than vibrant stripes. Tom wrapped his heel around her still tantalised by those vibrant stripes. ‘Maybe the operator will be too’ he thought as the operator picked them up for examination. A straw hat beside them caught the operator’s attention she threw it over to a colleague as she shouted ‘Anyone for tennis’ without noticing she had married Tom and Geri with a new red plastic tag. Tom hugged Geri so tight she could barely catch a breath. However she too felt the need to as she said ‘cling on for dear life’ as they were thrown into a steel container. Winston the last to be inspected passed with flying colours but was almost stolen by the operator. The straw hat shouted ‘What makes humans so greedy, why are they never satisfied with their lot?’
The rest of the day passed painfully as the garment after garment rained down on Tom, Geri and Winston. The pain was from the weight of garments overhead which put pressure on their tired threads. There was a stale odour of perfume, deodorant and sweat. Geri wretched and Tom soothed her by forcing as much space possible surrounding them with Winston help. Their comrades from the clothes bank were by now too tired and sore to talk. They were at the bottom of the pile, like in life and now potential death if as the hat suggested ‘they were travelling by sea’. The endless event of filling the container drew to a close. The operators closed the doors and darkness descended once more over the garments. Winston reminded them once more that their ‘fate was still unknown and that death was not inevitable’. But he himself new if they were heading into unchartered waters it was sealed. He needed to think and take control over his now found followers. Winston soothed as many as possible with consoling words of his wisdom ‘we are without question in a container’, ‘it’s uncomfortable, but we can all still breath and communicate’, ‘if we were destined for an incinerator we would have been strapped and baled’. As he spoke in simple language and soothing tone the garments once more relaxed. The hat however had a different idea. Fear had fixed his mind to like the container a deep, depressed dark emotional platform. ‘If we are to travel by sea for weeks on end, there is no hope’ ‘Winston you may whisper and attempt to exhale hope in this container but it is time we all realised the reality DEATH is imminent’. Those words smothered the garments in the container like a pillow.
The container started to move. Geri once more saw the future she told Tom ‘fear is futile we are going to be fine!’ Anxiety gripped Tom ‘Not another bloody dream?’ he responded. Geri shouted , ‘Yes, and I have been right so far, and less of the language’ Instantly Tom moved closer to her, hugged her and said ‘whatever happens we will be together for ever’ Transit time was quick, soon they could hear machinery around the container. They could hear the fork lift truck lift the container in the air. The container swayed from left to right in the wind. Winston defined the motion as ‘Just like the washing machine we are being moved about, just without the soapy water’. The hat retorted ‘Yeah, that’s right but the cycle is not finishing anytime soon.’ ‘I’ll do time for that Hat whatever happens’ Winston growled and everyone laughed. However despite the fake optimism and positivity of the garments, the pressure in the container pushing each garment from side to side, squashing their fibres was quiet simply ‘sore’. As soon as it began, once more the container had found a resting place.
The ‘what was going to happen next?’ enveloped the atmosphere in the container. Tom sliced through the doom and gloom and started singing an old rebel song ‘The ole triangle’ slowly everyone joined in and then started in true blue (Dublin) style a session. There was no porter just a passion to escape reality. After an hour or two of singing the garments started to drift off to sleep it had been a long day. Even the ‘Hat’ started to snore. Geri also entered the land of slumber, but was accompanied by another dream. Their destination and survival was not ‘death’ this dream soothed her, it was a journey to a new place. The slumber for the hard pressed garments was cut short by the roar and vibrations of a motor. Winston tried to stop the panic in the container. The garments deafened by the noise yelled ‘the hat was right’, I have never been in an incinerator! DEATH is lurking in the murk, damp shadows awaiting to crush and burn us all!!! A crumpled shirt yelled. The hat was paralysed by fear and could not physically shout ‘I told you so’. Winston was out of his depth, he could no longer offer an explanation. He thought to himself ‘this intense vibration and the roar of the engine, was it that of an incinerator? , ‘this was an unchartered course’ he thought. Then the word ‘chartered’ released the key to his comrade’s fate. Reality drowned by sound and motion hit Winston like a bolt of lightning ‘We are on a plane’ he roared.
Geri wrapped herself around Tom and whispered what she had heard Winston say. Tom on a world wind of adrenalin yelled at Geri when the pain and the noise stops, I want a full picture of your dream!!! The plane was in motion now and for those that heard Winston’s call, although in great pain and physical pressure, could see an end to their life of suffering. There was a myth that garments retired to charities and where shipped to the developing world, designated to new owners who treated them with respect and dignity. This world was ‘utopia’, all garments irrespective of their colour, gender or condition where treated with respect and appreciation something none of the comrades had encountered in their short lives. The voice of doom ‘the hat’ relished the reality Winston portrayed and despite the pain of the noise and being thrown about the container took solace in the final destination Winston spoke of. There was one last surge and lunge within the container as the wheels of the plane left the runway. Once the plane was airborne the vibration in the container became like a rocking cradle and many of the garments exhausted by the journey from their masters wash bins to the plane drifted off to sleep, despite the humming of the engines.
Tom was too excited to sleep, their destination guaranteed they would be together forever. He gently reached out to Geri to comfort her and question her further on her most recent dream. Geri woke up gently from Tom’s touch and replied ‘I cannot think, speak or move I am beyond exhaustion, my dream will reveal all upon our destination’. Tom kissed her gently ‘Good night Geri’
The only people awake in the container where Winston, The Hat and Geri. Winston spoke in a low voice to both. Before Winston spoke the Hat said first ‘When I am wrong I say I am wrong, this would be the longest and most expensive trip to an incinerator known to fibre land!!!!’ Winston thought quietly to himself ‘damn hat a fat lot of good that would have been if panic had resulted from his pessimistic and anarchy in the container… death as a real possibility had there been a crush in all garments panicking’ Geri interjected that Geri could potentially know where the final destination was….. Before The Hat could say ‘How’, Winston said ‘I need time to think, you both need rest too we can talk soon’, the hat yawned and Tom was anxious to get back to Geri so they left Winston to think and gently moved through the container.
Winston’s whispered gently to all around him ‘I need to stretch my legs, I have not done so since I was thrown into the container’. The garments in question simply moved slowly and silently. With the motion of the long stretch which generated a sense of relief and relaxation Winston mumbled to himself ‘what next?’. Thoughts flooded his fibres of excitement, anxiety, elation and doom. On and on his mind raced,
Excitement: - A new land, possibly even a new continent?
New masters who had only a few garments, treasuring each item surely?
A symbol of prosperity for their masters?
Where was the final destination?
Perhaps it would be in Europe?
A war zone area? They would first be threatened by bullets?
Winston stopped his thoughts of turmoil with a focus of ‘Africa’ being the final destination. But still the cogs of his brain kept turning, clockwise now in order.
How would they cope with the new climate?
Would it be hot?
Could his denim fabric survive the scorching sun?
This would be a land without incinerators, a world without fashion – an eternal life!!! All in the container would receive the winning prize of the ‘garment lotto’ (tender loving care). Gone would be the constant steam roller (the iron) which most of the garments faced daily. A life without starch for the shirts a life without bleaching agents for the whites. Finally exhaustion fell upon Winston, his mind stopped racing and he drifted off into a deep sleep.
The landscape of slumber was slashed by the sword of turbulence after several well-earned hours of rest. The garments crunched their fibres which each bump of the plane’s underside against the clouds. Even though the plane rocked violently it levelled off once again. This bumpy ride was similar to a very fast spin cycle of a washing machine which all the well-worn garments had grown accustomed to throughout their young lives. The noise reverberating throughout the plane was a challenge for all the garments to remain calm, however Winston raised his leg, waved it and they now knew panic as before was a wasted emotion. Almost as soon as it started, it stopped much to the relief of all in the container.
A blanket of curiosity rained down on the garments. What was to happen next? The hat shrill tone was once again audible, ‘Yes we are on a plane but what is our final destination?’ Much to Winston’s annoyance there was a hum of agreement in the plane, a muttering within the community of guarded anticipation. Unlike before, Tom was the first one to respond. ‘My wife had a dream, and as my life with her to date has proven time and time again she is never wrong, Geri has the potential always to ponder somewhat and predict the future as a result.’ Tom asked all in the container to remain silent and even the ‘Hat’ prepped his ears to hear the plan laid out for them from that moment forward. Tom gently touched her toe and coaxed her to speak.
Geri cleared her throat and after a short pause explained ‘the future’ that was mapped out with in an understated tone. ‘As you are all aware we are on a plane and tomorrow night we will land in Africa. Prepare for some discomfort as we land on the ground. Prepare for sizzling heat, but no blasting stormy winds. When the container is opened (this will be noisy and uncomfortable), be prepared to be amazed. A bright blue sky is awaiting our arrival. As before we will go through a sorting process but by people grateful for our very existence. Our new masters will treasure us, we will no longer be merely functional we will be a status symbol irrespective of our label. There is no war in this new country just poverty, but we will be cherished forever and above all else no one will go to any incinerator.’
Winston added a few words to prepare for the imminent landing and as before a session started, Garments sang and there was an air of hope and enthusiasm throughout the container once more. Meanwhile Tom’s heart swelled with pride, he was aware of how much it had taken out of his timid wife to clarify what lay ahead for all. He gently muzzled into her leg and whispered ‘I love you’ into her toe. The session lasted several hours cut short by the landing that was smoother than expected. As Geri had predicted the sky was a blast of blue and a gentle sorting process took place. The garments where bundled together in small bags, just four to five items in each and given to their new masters.
The new masters opened each bag carefully, examining each item gently. The garments had never before been handled with such tender care. The masters were dark in colour but spent a great deal of time looking at their new possessions (garments), clearly in awe of them. Some masters returned home, however most returned to the hospital to visit family and friends in the city of death ‘Sierra Leone’.
The women who became Tom and Geri new master lost her appetite of awe as soon as she entered the hospital with her three children behind her. Tom and Geri sensed atmosphere of dread and death when they reached the hospital ward. The children remained silent as they always were in the ward and the woman (Atalia) dropped several tears before approaching her husbands (Kyle) bed. Now Tom and Geri understood their master’s plight, Ebola had struck this family at its very core. Kyle looked gravely ill struggling to breath. Atalia had to dress in a mixture of paper, plastic gowns before approaching her husband’s beside. The doctor passed by and warned her not to touch Kyle. The woman broke down, a river of tears stemmed from her eyes and all Tom and Geri could do was look on at the heart breaking scene.
Atalia sat with Kyle for an hour showing him the new garments that brought a smile to a man in a very dark place. The doctor came once more and with all his might had to tell Atalia that Kyle only had a week to live. Once again she was broken, she needed to hug Kyle cling to him for dear life. She did not care about the risks, she asked the doctor and he said there were no gloves available so touch was a sheer impossibility. Atalia stared into the void that was her situation, then suddenly she was distracted by one of her children (Keegan). She smiled at him with the stripy socks on his hands and arms. Like a bolt of light a thought struck her. She ran to the nurse on the ward and begged her to see the stripy socks on her hands and arms. ‘Can I touch Kyle now? These are my protection.’ The nurse sensing Atalia urgency ran to the doctor and within minutes Atalia had her arms around her beloved husband Kyle. Kyle smiled brightly with the little energy he had left in his body and at last they shared a moment as bright as the socks on Atalia hands and arms. Even though the final days of Kyle’s life where tough they were tempered with the brightest moments of tender touch between Atalia, Geri, Kyle and Tom. Kyle was so breathless he could no longer speak but he could respond to touch and when he passed Atalia was grateful for the much cherished tender moments they shared at the very end of Kyles life.
Tom and Geri too felt the sense of loss when he passed, but then they were given the ultimate gift. Atalia treasured them and considered them part of the family not just objects, she gently stroked them for months and their resting place was no longer to be on feet but on top of the mantelpiece. Tom and Geri watched the family grow and develop and the country rebuild itself all without their intended functional daily task. They talked and laughed endlessly and enjoyed being gently hand washed by Atalia every fortnight. They had reached utopia and relished every second of it, they were and always would be together forever.