It was lying on the track above Poets’ Road; a small black creature, curled and damp. I didn’t stop, didn’t stoop to see if it needed help, didn’t even say hello. I continued on my misty walk up Knocklofty, deep in molethoughts. I drank a pot of tea at the Crescent Cafe, returned to my burrow and scribbled as usual. Not once did I think about the creature. Nor did it venture into my dreams that night, but the next morning there it was again, just the same but damper. Still I passed it by. On the third morning it had moved – not far, but enough to notice. It was slightly to the side of the track now, nestling on some moss and a gumleaf or two. This time I adjusted my spectacles and peered at it more closely.
There was something faintly familiar about its soft blackness. I poked it with my hindpaw and a visceral memory crept up my leg. It was my dearly beloved sock, missing several days, perhaps even a week. Its partner lay prostrate and inconsolable on my chest of drawers.
I thought of all those other single socks in my drawer. They lie there dormant for much of the year, emerging only when days of rain have prevented their brethren from being dried on the line. They make do with each other as best they can. How many of their partners had stowed away in my trouser legs and slipped off into the bush when the opportunity presented itself, only to find that once there, they missed home but were too proud or too lost to return? And for how many of these stray socks might a kind word, a little diligence on my part made all the difference?
I picked up the poor wet, muddy creature and cradled it in my pocket.
I looked at the place where it had lain. What if it had not been my sock? Would it be lying there still? Does my philanthropy only extend to my nearest and dearest?