She should have known it wouldn't last - an argyle sock and a pair of jeans. She should have known. But she was lonely, hanging on a hook on the back of the bedroom door. She was faded and frayed, relaxed and comfortable. She didn't go out much anymore like the other jeans - dark-denimed and tight to the point of needing spandex.
She wasn't sure why she was even around and she suspected even that wouldn't last long. But being the old timer allowed her to see what was going on in the wardrobe. Or, so she thought.
The argyle had been flirting with her from the laundry basket and at first she wondered if the sock's attention was directed at some other garment except she was the only one on the hook. She couldn't understand what he saw in her and she assumed he was either mistaken or confused. The other jeans were clearly more desirable or, at any rate, they were treated with special care. They never went through the dyer. No, they were always hung to dry, along with the delicate and lacy lingerie and the soft and fragile sweaters. So what did the argyle see in her?
It was sheet-changing day and a load was put together of the dirty linens, along with the other whites to fill out the load: undershirts, athletic socks, wash cloths. For some unknown reason she was tossed into the basket as well.
He was there in the basket. She didn't see him do it; she didn't know how he got there.
Her mind whirled, wondering why she was included in the load of whites. It clearly indicated a special need but what could that be? Was she going out? Surely, there were better jeans for that purpose. More likely, it was her final wash before being donated somewhere. She had seen that happen before, clothes washed and then disposed of, the only ceremony of disposal being this, the final wash. There could be no other reason that she could imagine. There wasn't much time left.
She was shy around him in the basket. What could she possibly say to him? He was so dark, lined with distinction. Oh, if her parents could only see her. Her mother, no doubt, would tell her that he was bad news, that he could be nothing but conceited because he was different than all the other dress socks. But just wait, she could hear her say, They all look the same when a toe is poking out.
Her father would warn her not to trust him. Socks could never be trusted- a sock will always use you, tell you what you want to hear and then dump you.
Still, she remembers finding "The Joy of Socks" when she snooped in their bedroom. She didn't know what to believe.
And yet she couldn't keep from being excited from his attentions. He was alluring, charismatic, mysterious. Maybe, even, a little dangerous.
They were loaded into the washer, nestled among the sheets and towels. He was hidden from view but she knew he was there. She could smell his musky odor. The lid closed and water poured in and suddenly they were weightless. They began to swirl and dance, all together, and her legs stretched and twisted as he floated by, teasing her. He would run along the length of her and then disappear behind a pillowcase only to reappear somewhere else. He whispered sweet nothings as he caressed her and she wished the wash cycle would never end.
Too soon, the drum stopped its rhythmic swirl and the water receded. Gravity returned with her on one side of the drum, heavy and wet, and he high on the other. The drum began to spin and they were powerless to move. She tried to keep her senses but the drum kept spinning faster and faster until she hardly knew where she was.
Suddenly, the drum stopped and she struggled to find her equilibrium. Clothes were being moved to the dryer as she tried to focus. She saw the sheets being unwound from themselves and towels being pulled out. And just before she was being untangled from her own self she caught sight of him, high in the drum pressed flat, dark on the dark porcelain behind the shadow of the washer lid.
He didn't make a sound. Nor did she. At first, she remembered the tales of all the socks who had sneaked out of the laundry in a manner such as this but he had sneaked in. To be with her. Surely, they would be reunited in the dryer.
She fell heavily into the dryer and waited. More towels and undershirts followed but there was no sign of her argyle. There was no activity for a long moment and the only sound that could be heard was a swirling, scraping sound inside the washer drum.
"There you are," said the laundress as she slung the sock into the dryer.
She thought he looked sheepish but they were suddenly in motion again and she wasn't sure. Again, they danced. It became more erotic as she lost her water weight and the static began to build. She could only hope the static would bind them together, long enough - for what, she didn't know. Long enough to exchange lint, perhaps?
Again, it ended all too soon. Again, they were untangled from themselves and one another and placed into the laundry basket.
And, again, the sock was nowhere to be found. He was hiding behind the lip of the dryer's opening, pressed low against the drum.
The laundress closed the dryer door and started to leave the laundromat with her load.
She wanted to cry out. To her sock, to the laundress, to anyone who could hear her when suddenly they went back. The laundress set down the basket, opened the dryer door and, once again, ran her hand around the drum and stopped when she found the sock.
"Rascal," she said. She tucked him deep into the basket so he couldn't get out.
They didn't speak about it in the laundry basket on the way home. She was embarrassed, sure the rest of the laundry knew she had been a fool, a patsy for his escape. Her shame was complete as she imagined what her parents would say.
At home she was hung by a belt loop on the back of the bedroom door once again. From there she could see her argyle being tossed into the sock drawer, alone. She could also see his mate in the hamper, waiting his turn for the wash, oblivious to the sock's philandering and attempted escape. If I'm a fool, she thought, at least I'm not alone.
She felt as used as she was worn, hanging on her hook, still not knowing why she was sent through the wash with the whites in the first place.
Darn him, that argyle sock.