She was cold. She’d almost gotten used to the lingering chill over the past ten years, almost but not entirely. Every time she managed to put it out of her mind, it would rain, and water would seep down the basement wall, and the dampness and the winter cold would seep through every fiber of herself, and she would be utterly miserable. Of course, the summer could be just as bad, as ants and spiders crawled over her, happily ignorant of her trembling fear of them. It rained in summer too, and sometimes the sump pump backed up and flooded the basement, and water spilled across the floor soaked her clean through, and she was completely miserable again.
She wanted to get away. But she couldn’t move. She had tried. Oh, she had tried. Again and again she had tried, straining to lift herself just one inch forward. Nothing worked. Once, three years ago, a stray moth had wandered into the basement and fluttered about the ceiling, and she had literally tried to hurl herself towards it. The pure freedom of its flight, the tiny flicker of wings, had so called to her heart that she had broken down in despair when she still couldn’t follow it, and then the moth had flown away and she was left alone once more.
The loneliness was the worst. The first year she had bravely tried to keep herself entertained. She had sung every song she knew, then sung them all over again, then tried to add her own verses. She’d talked to herself, created imaginary friends, relived old memories…one by one her ideas ran dry. Every night as she lay awake staring at the ceiling, she had to face anew the unpleasant fact that she was all by herself. No one was coming for her. Not Kristy. And especially not Roderick.
The thought of him sent a wave of mingled emotion through her, as it always did even now. She could well remember all the good times they’d had, going places together, seeing fantastic sights. Even when they didn’t go anywhere, even when they lay on the couch cushions watching TV, it was still fun. At least she had thought it was. Roderick hadn’t thought so, it seemed. She still didn’t know the whole of what had happened, as she hadn’t been in the room. She had heard him screaming, heard shouts, and then more shouts and screams later, and a great bustle and commotion, and then…silence. Somehow in the turmoil she had gotten left.
She sniffled to herself as she lay there on the cold concrete of the basement floor, staring at the unchanging pattern of cracks that she had committed to memory long ago. If only someone would come for her…if only someone would remember….she didn’t expect a full conversation. She knew her place, her duty. She knew what was expected of her and her kind, and she had always tried her best not to upset them. But still…all she wanted was to be thought about. Just once more.
It was the same line of thinking she always went through on Fridays. Fridays were the worst. Those had once been laundry days, and on rare occasions she had gone out with Kristy to the laundromat. Laundromats were always neat, with the spinning and the warmth of freshly dried clothes, and all the many interesting people one could meet there. She sometimes pretended that Kristy had taken her to the laundromat again, and showed her around, and…oh, it didn’t matter. She knew those days weren’t coming back. The laundromat had probably closed down years ago. Maybe the world didn’t have laundromats anymore. Who knew what had been going on outside all those years that she had been stuck there in the basement with no one to talk to, no one to cuddle with, no one to do anything at all with…
Then she heard a noise from upstairs. It was a distant, yet unmistakable click of a key in a door. Someone was coming! At last, at last! Desperately she tried to move, to push herself just a little into the light that peeked in through the basement window-well, and now she heard a clatter of footsteps coming down the basement stairs, and excitement raced through her. If only she could get their attention! She could be used again! She could be reunited with someone else, maybe not Roderick, but a new person, and everything would be like it was. Maybe there were still laundromats in the world, maybe-
The basement door opened, and a brisk young man with a spiky haircut popped through. He carried a strange plastic device in one hand, and kept poking at it with an oddly-shaped pen. Muttering faintly, the man glanced around the basement, his eyes darting over the washing machine, the dryer, the sump pump, the odds and ends of old furniture. Once he saw the basement’s single occupant, who was even at that moment trying frantically to cry out, to move, to fly. For one shining second she thought she had done it, felt the breeze racing across her, felt…but it was all in vain. A few final pokes, and the man was gone, the door banging shut behind him.
Hope died quietly. She had failed, as always. She couldn’t imagine the man’s purpose; maybe he was an insurance agent or a repairman, or perhaps he was a realtor and the house was about to be sold. Still, even if that were true, she didn’t think it would make a difference. She had tried so hard….but she was nothing. Worthless. Cold, damp, and moldy, her pure white color long since faded away. As the outside light faded and darkness claimed the basement once more, the lonely sock without a mate cried itself to sleep.