The agony always began at 10:45 PM for us runaway socks. That’s when Sara, the laundry attendant, wiped the exterior of every washer and removed lint from every dryer. But horror surfaced at the sight of the long-unfolded hanger. Sara scraped the floor under the machines running the long metal hanger along trying to drag out any dirt or “lost” clothing. We weren’t lost. We know why we ran. But humans never accepted sock-loss. Humans say dust to dust. Our equivalent is lint to lint, and our biggest fear is not a sickness, but a hole. Though they were like us and needed us, they misunderstood us. Mostly, they just stood on us.
“Arg! Argyle come out from underneath that dryer,” demanded Anklet.
“No, I can’t,” Argyle said, a tinge of fear in his voice.
“Why not? It’s after midnight. Party time. After being underfoot, it is time to live it up!”
“The hanger, it got me. I … I got a hole,” Argyle whispered.
Anklet gasped, understanding his pain. A hanger incident caused her to lose half her lace trim a few months ago.
“Give me a peek,” she replied.
Argyle stuck out his heel. A dimple of a gap with a long ravel string sat right at the ankle. The string left out meant Arg would unravel. But she couldn’t tell her friend that. He had been there when they pulled and ripped the hanging lace from the back of her. Argyle had put his toe line on hers the whole time.
She looked around the Laundromat. A multitude of sports socks were racing in the laundry carts. Loud socks wagered with lint balls on which team would win the race. The flash of the neon closed-sign revealed others dancing on and under the table. Hawaiian-Pineapple sock cranked out the tunes from the radio on the shelf. Most of the kid socks, in their blur of colors and prints, were diving into the washer filled with cold. The knee socks, Grey Knee, White Knee, Black Knee, and Forest (Forest didn’t think he was a knee sock) were inserting the pay-card and setting the washer at hot for the adult-only hot tub. The business socks and stockings were lining-up for their soak.
“Knee Socks come here! We need you,” Anklet hollered, knowing the knee socks were tall on knowledge.
The foursome shimmied down the crack between the machines and jogged over to Argyle and Anklet. After examining the situation, they each gave their opinion. Only Forest had an idea that didn’t include making a bucket list, so we took it. No one wanted to see Arg unraveled, swept up, and placed in the great golden trash bin in the corner.
Many offered to donate their threads—the extra string at the end of our toe lines. I’d help weave them in and tie them with a knot. It might hold.
Bobby Sock had the longest extra toe string. We turned him inside out, and the sports socks climbed the desk to the scissors near the register. The smooth business socks were able to pull the scissors nearby. Manipulating the scissors with the necessary precision to keep Bobby alive proved too tricky. We abandoned the idea.
“It’s okay, I’m prepared. Lint to lint,” said Argyle.
“Not acceptable,” Anklet cried.
She ordered everyone to the desk. The sports socks held the hosiery socks taunt and Argyle, and she jumped on the sock-made trampoline. They flew into the air and landed on the desk. Anklet turned Argyle inside out and gathered the unraveling-string. She pinched it along the seam she created, pulling the hole together to secure it.
“Argyle, you remember that day you came here, and I told you if you wanted to be an individual you’d have to leave the pair and run with me?” Arg nodded still pale with fear. “Well, how’d that work for you? Good, right? And this will too, I promise,” she said and put her toe line on his and smiled at him. Then she signaled. The Heavy-Duty Work Socks muscled their way up to the top of the stapler. Ank whispered how brave Arg was and how proud she was of him as she lined him up a final time along with the guideline of the giant gray metal stapler. Her eyes always returned to Args. The four work socks then jumped onto the business-end of the stapler. After four jumps and four screams from her and her friend, the hole was closed, and the ravel string secured. The whole laundromat echoed with gladness. Ank turned Arg right side out.
“Thank you, Anklet,” Arg said with watery eyes. “I don’t know what I’d do without you? You understood that I didn’t want to be the same as someone else. That a matched sock wasn’t me. You helped me run away. Accepted me for me. Given our differences, others might find us an odd pair. But I think we’re an amazing match,” said Argyle.
“You color my world and safeguard me too,” Anklet said as her lace fluttered. “We are unmatched; in shape, color, and in our love for one another,” Anklet whispered.
Indeed, Argyle and Anklet’s friendship was unmatched. And it became more, as Arg held Ank’s toe line, then leaned in and kissed her as her lace ruffled. The crowd’s cheer echoed.
“Unmatched and unique,” Forest said. “Think I’ll call them U2.”
Later under the neon light dancing to “Footloose” and “With or Without You” everyone shielded their eyes from the reflected staple light glaring off a happy Argyle sock.