This is a short story I have been working on for about 2 years. It is not completed at this time. I am currently working to improve what I already have, so please bear with me as this process may take a while. All comments and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
“When I walked into the apartment, I saw a sock on the floor.”
Bethany swiveled in her computer chair to face Jill, who had just burst into her apartment unannounced. “A sock?”
“Yeah, a girl’s sock. On the floor, under my table, and it’s not mine.” She plopped down on Bethany’s bed, letting the sack of books she carried up the flight of steps fall – a little too loudly – to the floor. “Isn’t that a little suspicious?”
“Did you ask Derek about it?” Bethany asked. She closed the textbook in front of her, knowing homework was no longer an option.
“Yeah! But he has no idea where it came from! How does he not know where it came from? He was there!” She frowned at Bethany. “Socks don’t just walk into people’s apartments. People bring socks into people’s apartments. Don’t you see? Someone – a girl – was in my apartment with my boyfriend when I wasn’t there.”
“Didn’t you say Ashley stopped over the other day?" Bethany reasoned. "To see the new setup?”
“Yeah, but I already asked her,” Jill replied, waving the suggestion off. "She said it’s not hers. Besides, like you just said, she came over to see the new setup and gage whether we used our space ‘appropriately.’ Why would she take off her socks?”
Bethany shrugged. “What kind of sock is it?”
“A girl sock - one of those white ankle socks with a pink line across the toes. Derek and I do not have socks like that.” She stood up, and crossed the two person bedroom to the window. Despite her foul mood, she still noticed the beautifully colored leaves hanging precariously from trees lining both the parking lot and the train station across the street. The view was probably the only nice part about the old, decaying wood apartments where Bethany lived. She shook her head, coming back to the problem at hand. “Besides, it wasn’t just a sock lying on the floor. It was bunched up like someone had just pushed it off and left it there. And it smelled like dirty feet. I think it’s pretty obvious someone had been wearing it.”
Had it been a clean sock lying on the floor, Jill would have assumed it just fell out of the hamper after Derek had folded the laundry. It could have been accidently left behind in the dryer by its owner, and then mixed in with their stuff later. That kind of thing happened all the time in their apartment’s shared laundry room; especially in the city, where everyone was always in a rush.
I should have just gone to school in New York, she thought – not for the first time. She would have been closer to Derek all the time, rather than twice a week and on the weekends when she didn’t have to stay for a project or study group. And she wouldn’t have to commute or crash on Bethany’s floor all the time.
“Who knows for sure whose sock it is? And bunched up or not, it is just a sock,” Bethany gently pointed out. “You know? It’s not like a bra or something.”
“Yeah, but it’s not one of my socks,” countered Jill. She turned back to her friend. It was true that it wasn’t something as critical as a forgotten bra – or pair of panties, for that matter – but still, there was another woman’s dirty sock in her apartment, where it didn’t belong.
“Who else could have been there?” asked Bethany. “Maybe one of Derek’s nieces? His sister? Lindsey? She lives downstairs.”
Jill shook her head miserably. “No. I thought of that. None of them have stopped by in weeks – even Lindsey. And, even if they had stopped by, why would any of them take off their socks? The nieces, fine, yeah, they probably would – they’re little, but his sister? No. And Lindsey? Why would his step mom take off her socks and leave one behind?”
Bethany paused for a moment and then shrugged, apparently out of ideas. “Where’s the sock now?”
“He threw it out,” replied Jill, throwing her hands up in exasperation. She returned to the bed and sat down again. “He said ‘it’s not ours. And the chances of someone claiming it are slim to none, so why keep it?’ And then tossed it.”
“Really? He just threw it out?”
Jill nodded. “What else was there to do? He said he didn’t know whose it was, so there was no point holding on to it. Where would we keep it, anyway? On the floor?” She cringed. “Absolutely not.”
Bethany conceded. “We’ll figure it out, ok?” She gave her a smile. “Why don’t we get some food? That’ll help the thinking process.”
Jill shook her head. There was no way she could eat. Derek and that stupid sock were controlling her mind. It would be better if she just went home – maybe talk to him more. Maybe she could figure out a way to get the truth out of him. “I’m just gonna go home. I’m really beat.”
“Home?” Bethany asked, clearly surprised. “But you have an early class tomorrow. And you just got here!”
“Yeah, I know. I just can’t think about school right now.” Being with Derek would help her sort out this mess. “I’ll call you later.” She got up to kiss Bethany on the cheek and gathered her things.
“Be safe. I love you.”
“I love you, too!” She hurried out the door and back down the steps. The fresh air would clear her head, too, and the train ride wouldn’t be bad. Going home was a good idea.
As she walked across the street to the train station, she pulled out her cell phone and pressed down on the number one. Derek’s number appeared on her LCD screen, and then connected. After two rings, he picked up.
“Hey, Baby. What’s up?” His voice sounded groggy. Had he been sleeping? She checked the time on her watch: 6:55. When was the last time Derek napped?
“Hey,” she replied, trying to sound as endearing as normal. “Nothing. I’m finally done for the day. What are you doing?”
“Not much; waking up. I was really beat after work, and we have an event tonight, so I figured I’d nap.”
Another event? “Oh? For what?”
“My boss hired a few new people. We’re having a late dinner at that new Italian place to introduce them to the rest of the staff, you know, before they really get started. They want me to write up a little thing to send over to HR in the morning or something.”
“Oh.” Of course. He always had to be there – wherever there was - day or night. He was their bitch; the little intern that would bend down and grab his ankles. All they had to do was to ask. Jill quickly cleared her throat to keep from gagging. “That sounds nice. What time does it start?”
“Around eight. It’s good you called. I need to shower and get ready. I’ll call you later?”
“Yeah, sure.” So much for spending time with you, she thought. She would just have to wait until he got home, even if it was late. Which reminded her: “No drinking, though, ok?”
“I’m not going to drink,” he snapped at her. “I have to work. I can’t work and drink. What would they think of me if I did?”
“Ok,” she said, raising that little white flag. “I’m just making sure.” She hated to act like his mother, but she was afraid that he would make a fool out of himself in front of his bosses without the reminder.
“Are you staying at Beth’s tonight?” His voice was tight – like he was still on the defensive. Should she tell him she was coming home?
“Yeah,” she lied. “We’re going to get some food and then get some homework done.” Her heart was pounding. What was she doing? Trying to catch him doing something wrong? Prove to herself she was being a fool?
“Ok.” He took a deep breath. “I miss you. I have to go.”
“Miss you, too, Babe. Call me when you get home.”
“Always. Love you much.”
“I love you, too.” She folded the phone shut just before the red lights started flashing and the warning bell sounded to announce the oncoming train.
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