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Jubilee Forbess (she/her) is really into poetry, music that sounds like a.) flowers b.) the feeling of being alive c.) Broadway d.) cotton can-day. She also likes to read three books a day. Drink water! Charge your phone!

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Hi! Wanted to let you all know that if you comment on my stories and I write back to say thanks but don't leave a comment on YOUR story, it's because I'm writing a review instead. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that I'm not ignoring your work! You've all been very kind. It's been a joy to review the pieces I have so far and do tell me when you get them!

sorting socks

February 3, 2021


“Fiona! Sort the socks, please!” 
Fiona is on the phone with her best friend, a kind, handsome, and talented boy who she affectionately calls Gems. He has the shiniest eyes she’s ever seen and he says her smile is like diamonds. Fiona’s mother doesn’t know they’re talking. She would not approve. 
“Just a minute, Mom! I’m on the phone!” 
Gems grins from the other side of town. His house is made of red bricks and the fire is warm, but he wishes he could hop out the window and take Fiona out for an ice cream, a movie, or maybe they’d go to the aquarium. The truth is they won’t go anywhere. They never do, and besides, Fiona has to sort those d-a-r-ned socks. 
“Who could you be on the phone with?” 
This is a moment Gems had dreaded since the day he first started talking to Fiona. How would she introduce him to her mother, her father, her brother and two sisters? The idea sent shivers, cold, un-fire like shivers, racing like snakes up his back. Fiona wants to tell her mother who’s on the phone, but she can’t, not like this, not out of nowhere. She says goodbye to Gems and puts her phone down. The socks are waiting downstairs. 
“Ma’am, I don’t know who told you you could get away from your chores to chat with your little friends, but it sure as anything wasn’t me.” 
Fiona has a choice. 
“It was just someone from school,” 
She has to keep both of them where they know they’re safe.
“Just someone from school.” 
Satisfied with that answer, Fiona’s mother leaves. Fiona stares down at her youngest sister, a baby staring back up at her through a pile of unsorted socks, mittens, scarves, and hats. They’re so colorful. Fiona’s mother loves variety in clothes, would she care too much if- Fiona doesn’t let herself answer that question. She sits down and throws a few socks- all white ones- together with the rest of the pile, and then moves on to brown, black, blue socks until she’s all socked out and there’s threads all over the ground. Fiona wonders if Gems will talk to her at school tomorrow. She wonders if she’d be brave enough to talk first. At dinner, Fiona picks through her vegetables. She puts the carrots with the carrots and the peas with the peas and then she stops and mixes them all together with her fork. There, she thinks to her plate, isn’t that a pretty sight? 
“Fiona, for the love of sandalwood and yoga leggings, would you quit playing with your food?” 
Fiona’s mother has snappy eyes and sharp tones. She reaches over and takes the fork away from her daughter. Fiona’s dad laughs and hands her his fork before taking hers from his wife. He’s a jolly man, but would his joy reach even when it was out of his comfort zone? Fiona smiles because she knows that her dad would like Gems. And her mother would too, but her mother was a piece of work and therefore needed more time. After dinner, Fiona goes back upstairs and reads her messages from Gems. 
I miss you! 
How did sock sorting go?
I wish I could see you. 
That boy. 
He went through almost all the punctuation marks in the book, and for what? For her? She holds her warm phone against her face and for once, isn’t worried about the radiation but more appreciative of the light. She writes Gems back, her thumbs as quick as lightning. 
I miss you too! 
It was okay, how was your evening?
I wish that more than anything, too. 
Fiona lays back in her bed and her hair blooms orange around her, bright against the clean white of her pillowcase. As she falls asleep, she dreams of horses and sugar plums and dancing clowns and her grandmother’s meatloaf but she dreams of giant socks, too. The socks are grinning like Nemo sharks and cheering at her. There’s white ones on her left and warm brown ones on her right and in the middle is her mother and she’s saying no no no. Dream Fiona has a hold of a sock on each side and she’s trying her best to match them. She’s pulling and yanking and the socks are reaching for each other but nothing happens. Fiona wakes up. She dials Gems. 
“Hey, this is a weird time to call, I know, but I had to tell you something.” 
“Oh, I have to tell you something too, but you go first.” 
Fiona sits up straighter in bed. 
“I think that socks aren’t people.” 
“Early morning shower thoughts with Fi. I like that.” 
“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, come over. For dinner. Meet my family.” 
Gems swings his legs out of the blanket. 
“This has to do with socks why?” 
“I can’t explain it, exactly, but it doesn’t matter.”
“Okay, you don’t have to elaborate, just name a time and date and I’ll be there.” 
Fiona squeezes her phone tight between her fingers and palm. 
“We can talk about it tomorrow.” 
“At school?” 
“Yes, at school.” 
When Fiona gets home the next day, the socks are dumped all over the floor, scrambled like a breakfast omelet. Her baby sister stares up at her, wide-eyed. She thinks Fiona’s mad, but Fiona sits down beside her and pats her on the head. Even a baby can see, clearly, that socks are the only thing that should be sorted by color. 


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