First her husband had worn the sock. Then her son. She was a woman of normal size, but the son and the husband, they’d been giants. They all lived in a cold, old country where it was costly to produce socks for their proportions, so instead of buying two pairs the giants shared the one. They were hale-looking and laughing fellows who suffered the heart problems of giant people and died young. The father died just five years before the son, the son just sixty months after the father. Two giants. Two losses. Leaving her, a normal-sized woman, to shoulder gigantic grief. What could she do? She sold everything from their estate save the sock the giants shared, then she bundled up the enormous inheritance, and moved with it from the old country to Henderson, Nevada.
In her home village, where she was naturally celebrated as the wife and mother of giants, she had been also praised for her lovely singing voice. Now, on Fridays, at a quaint café in Henderson, she performed ten songs a night singing before the giant sock, the monument to her bereavement that was the Sonny to the Cher of her.
Flopped on its side, the sock stood three times taller than she did, and it was as long and as wide as a hearse, albeit, not so large as the hearses that had hauled away her giants—blackly colored semis with flatbed trailers and funeral tarps the buzzards kept trying to disturb.
She’d begin her set singing numbers back to back without mentioning the sock: old torch favorites crooned while her hair glistened, and her sequined vest sparkled as she purred about summer nights of longing, and colors from the red and blue stage lights swept across the vast drabness of the sock. Then the songs saddened, the lighting turned a lunar white, and she sang songs directly to the sock, climbing down into its many folds. The lugubrious final number she wailed with her mouth muffled against the fabric, and nobody in the audience could tell if the crackling words were English or if they were from the old country or if they wafted up directly from the sock itself.
The quality of performance never held up recorded on the phone, because the hulking largeness of the sock was not even the main thing about it. The smell was more striking: it had the stale, sweaty, fungal, found-by-dust smell of real discarded menswear. And the odor insisted it wasn’t a prop, a backdrop. The sock contained no imitative material; it was sock the whole way through, a sock as pure of sock as grief is pure of grief.
And to prove this, after her last song ended, she sometimes let the doubters approach and handle and smell the sock. She would see a smirk and summon it forward. In her now hoarsened voice she would give a bitter speech on how miraculous it would’ve been if the sock were, in fact, fake, if she were a fraud who could carry on unenfolded in her gigantic griefs. But it’s not. She’s isn’t. She can’t. She never will.
Her losses are gigantic, hulking, unrelenting—they will not let her be. They will push and prod her each night into the little café in Henderson where she sings standing before the sock.
And though they weep at the notes she summons and wince and cough at the odor of her extravagant griefs, she knows her audience experiences a scintilla of her experiences. That they will never know how it felt to clean the hulls of dozing giants with sponge and wand and firehouse, to speak soothing words into their manhole-sized ears when they suffered the neuroleptic fits common to their conditions, to sleep snuggled in coarse hairs upon her husband’s hillock of belly and dream herself another colossus knocking off the roofs of textile factories, ripping yarn off the bobbins and scooping up the woolen fibers, all to bring home something warm and clean for her guys, something of the world to make fresh the lie that the cramping world beyond them was built for all sizes.