She found one of his socks beneath the bed. She held it for a moment, transfixed. It was extraordinary: yellow, the color of a happy face, with space explorers woven into a pattern of planets, ships, spacesuits, and distant stars. Why was it there? How long had it been there? Why did it have to be there?

He saw her this way when he walked into the room. He dreaded the room, yet also could not leave her to task of packing without his help. She turned to him. She had forgotten to put the sock down. It tangled there like a hypnotist’s watch. He could not meet her eyes. She did not want to meet his. She lowered the sock, and then turned on him. “So, you’ve decided to help?” He said nothing. Her words were like a distant echo from a foreign voice, maybe a computerized voice, the kind that reads digital books.

Dropping to his knees, he reached for toy soldiers, battle worn pieces of plastic scattered dead over a battlefield without proper burial. His task was to gather the dead.

She watched his movements for telltale signs. They had a ponderous slow rhythm as the fingers lingered on each little warrior. He handled each one as if it were a delicate living thing. “You really are a little late to the play, Alex. We’ll never get this done if you must examine each toy.” “Of course. No problem.” He scooped the last handful of the soldiers into a plastic bag, then placed them into a small box.

The two worked silently this way until one of them would freeze. The other would say nothing, except to drop something to the floor to break the spell.

(c) 2012 FXP All rights reserved.