Mismatched Socksby@victormairo

Mismatched Socks

by Victor MairoMarch 20th, 2024
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

TLDR; A silly boy almost drowns in a pool and is saved by his friend who can’t swim. The friend dies, and he lives. That changed his mental state.
featured image - Mismatched Socks
Victor Mairo HackerNoon profile picture

-𝙷𝚘𝚠 𝚍𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚢 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚘 𝚍𝚛𝚘𝚠𝚗?

There are mismatched socks everywhere you step; it’s like a pandemic of socks. You walk on your toes, careful not to step on any. Today is the day you learn how to swim. You are excited; it shows in your demeanor.

“Oga, hurry up, na. We go leave you o.” You hear the voice of your bosom friend and classmate since the beginning of JSS1, the boy who sticks by you like glue.

“No dey rush me, I dey come.” You thunder back as he sighs and tells you to hurry it up.

Your room is a mess; it always is. You never remember where the ballpoint pens you so dearly love are kept; you never remember if your bag is on the top of a pile of unwashed clothes. You never remember anything, or rather, you choose to forget.

“Oboi, this one goes mad o. Shey, you fit swim?” One of your friends asks, and you are tempted to roll your eyes. It is not a question you grace with a response, so you keep mute. The others come to your rescue in a flash.

“No dey do like beans na, you know say we wan teach am how to swim. Sometimes this Otis dey do like person wey him brain dey glitch.” Ayo says, looking at Otis with a look of contempt. Ayo is the boy you look up to, the one most girls would kill to talk to. He looks like a cross between an American and a Nigerian, even though he keeps reminding everyone who decides to listen that he’s a full-fledged Yoruba boy. Otis is the guy everybody ignores, even you. He keeps repeating irrelevant details to fill up the silence.

“No mind Otis. Na why him dey do like Otu. E no sabi anything. I go teach you how to swim, no worry.” You nod in acceptance, staring at the boy who speaks with such confidence you can’t help being shell-shocked. He’s another guy, you rever, who’s somehow good at whatever he does. Kanye is his name—the boy who does it all. It doesn’t matter what; he’s good at it. The girls used to like him until they got annoyed with him since they consider him a 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤-𝑖𝑡-𝑎𝑙𝑙 or rather, 𝐼𝑇𝐾. So, he sticks with the boys now.

“I no mind am before na. Na so he dey do. We don know am. No worry, we get him password for hand.” You say with a laugh, as the others chorus. Four boys go to the swimming pool on a blistering hot day. Even the gods of misfortune could see nothing wrong with that idea. Or so you thought.

The pool is a large one; even standing at 5’8, you can tell there are parts of the pool you absolutely must not enter. Girls are squealing like ducks out of the water, but you ignore them. It’s how girls are: noisemakers. Even in your school, it’s no different. In a bid to be seen, they often try to outshine the boys who do whatever they do with no regard for who’s watching. You do not like girls. You used to, but now you don’t.

You are startled out of your reverie when Otis jostles you forward with a casual smirk on his face. He looks at you and winks while Ayo and Kanye watch you and Otis fool yourselves. The pool looks inviting as some girls leave it, clapping hands and whispering into their ears. You know how they are—gossip, all of them. You cannot remember where your hatred of women stems from, but you do know that it is from a valid place. You hear it’s called misogyny nowadays. Humans have names for everything, even inconsequential things.

“So, how we go do am? Who goes in first?” Ayo asks, one of his hands raised.

“Who cares? Make everybody enter jare.” Otis enters the conversation, using his body to push you aside from where you were standing. You stand at the pool's edge before you fall, your hands flailing in the air. The thought that you were just 5’8 feet tall in a pool over 7 feet deep strikes you as ironic. Nature does have a sense of humor, a wicked one. You smile, and you plunge into the water.

The water cradles your head as you begin to see the beauty in the darkness of the water. The scenery changes; you lie in the arms of the one who broke you, staring into those deep brown eyes that seem to house all the pain in the universe.

“I never taught you how to swim, did I?” She says, a sad smile on the edge of her lips.

“You? How are you here?” You ask, fighting back tears. She looks as beautiful as you remember from the past, a phantom with no place to call home.

“Does it matter? I guess they call this a place between worlds, right? So, you’re dying. How does that make you feel?” She speaks, and you close your eyes momentarily, wondering why she keeps picking you apart.

“Why must you be the last thing I see before I die? Haven’t you done enough? You’re not even dead!” You scream at her face, but the only thing that comes out of your mouth are bubbles.

“Dead or alive, I’m the one you love above all others. How does it feel to have your last moments with the only girl your family and friends abhor?” She grins at you, and you begin to see how messed up everything is. She isn’t your friend, she isn’t your family. She’s nothing. Yet, she’s everything.

“Haven’t you done enough? Why do you keep doing this?” You say, knowing the fight has been drained out of you.

“Because I can.”

You can hear voices through the depths, but you refuse to heed them. You want to talk to her a little bit longer.

“Wake up, dammit!” You hear a voice pulling you out of your private world with her, a voice that seems to break with pain. You don’t ask; you follow.

“Thank God. Yes, that’s it. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine…” The voice gets a little more transparent, and you open your eyes groggily to see the panic-stricken faces of Ayo and Kanye hovering over you.

They fuss over you as you cough, water coming from your mouth. Your tiredness is overwhelming; your whole being begs you to go back to sleep. But in a haze, you notice that Otis is nowhere to be found.

“Where is Otis?” You ask, looking around.

“He’s fine. He was the one who went after you.” Ayo replies as though it is obvious.

“Okay, where is he?” You ask again, and Ayo and Kanye exchange nervous glances before they try to find Otis. But you don’t say anything because you know more than anyone else. The same way you know you can never be with 𝑉𝑒𝑟𝑎, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡𝑐ℎ as most of your friends call her. You know where Otis is, and your conversation with him once rings loudly in your head.

“Omo me, I just dey o. I no sabi swim. I remember when we go bar beach sef. I just dey play with sand. Me wey get that phobia for water. Wetin be the name again, sef?” Otis asks you as you hold back a laugh before replying.

“Hydrophobia. The fear of water.”

“Yes! Na im be that. Omo, no tell anybody sha. I wan get over am my way.”

“No wahala. Nobody go hear.”

You remember; you remember it all. You remember the promise you made not to tell anyone. You don’t have to look for Otis; nobody does. You know where he is. He has become one with the water.

You do not remember 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡𝑐ℎ anymore; everything else flies by in a haze. Did you attend Otis’ funeral? You do not remember. Your friends try to comfort you, but it is a wasted effort. You didn’t exactly love Otis; he was more like a pesky annoying fly that buzzes around and makes a fuss. You do not care about the death of a fly, yet your heart fills up so much that you fear it’s going to burst. You do not cry; crying is for babies. You stare dry-eyed at the future of the boy who never saw 16.

They say the state of a person’s room reflects the state of that person’s mind. That’s why yours is squeaky clean, not a pair of socks in sight. Perhaps you do it for Otis, or maybe it’s for yourself. Maybe your room reflects your mental state, a world empty of who you once were. There are no mismatched socks anymore, just memories of the boy who learned to drown in the guise of swimming.

“You can not swim. Why, then, did you do it?” You ask the empty air.

But no response comes.

Not one.

You’re alone with the boy you taught how to drown.

A fly, that’s all he was.

A pesky fly.

Why, then, do you cry?