Sock Heaven

In 2014, I managed to take a nearly defunct blog and generate a modicum of interest among a small but growing circle of readers and writers. In 2015, my goal is to regularly post flash fiction stories twice a week. One of these posts will be related to the weekly Friday Fictioneers prompt. The other post will be crafted from inspiration that comes to me throughout the week. This week I am drawing from one of my favorite lyricists and one of my favorite historical characters. First, comes the music video for Steve Taylor’s song “Sock Heaven.” The story and a mural featuring Frida Kahlo follow. Finally comes the picture that started this entire foray into existential thought, a photo of two mismatched socks.

Until she read the biography of Frida Kahlo, Cassie didn’t believe in Sock Heaven. Afterward, she realized that Frida deserved some sort of paradise, and if a heaven for misfits existed, surely Cassie would be on the guest list as well.

Compared to Cassie, Frida seemed relatively normal. But the artist thought herself strange, and Cassie had likewise often thought how abnormal she herself was.

Cassie and Frida, despite being born nearly a century apart, had more than strangeness in common. Polio and a series of accidents rendered the artist a cripple. Cassie was born with club feet and often found walking difficult. Frida, undaunted by ambulatory challenges, participated in boxing and other sports. Cassie’s dream was to become a dancer. Artistic by nature, she spent her childhood writing and acting. As a young adult, she learned to dance. She fought demons with poetry, and, like Frida, experienced more than once the condemnation of conventional wisdom that had no place for strange women.

The two met half a century after Frida’s death on a day when Cassie stared into the gaping mouth of hell. She happened upon a quote from Frida Kahlo and began to think about other possibilities. She began to feel less lonely, less afraid, less strange. She read Frida’s biography, drank in the crippled woman’s self-portraits, made a friend from beyond the grave. In time, she began to see that both heaven and hell are exactly what one makes of them. It seemed to Cassie that she and Frida had both spent too much time in someone else’s hell. Why shouldn’t they find a place in Sock Heaven?

Frida's husband, Diego Rivera, painted this mural of her.

Frida’s husband, Diego Rivera, painted this mural of her.

Copyright 2014, Marie Gail Stratford

Copyright 2014, Marie Gail Stratford

Mobilizing Friendship

Author’s Note: I composed this about a week ago and have hesitated to post it due to the high volume of truth tucked into this piece of fiction. However, it has met with positive reviews in my writers group, so I’m sharing with this word of caution: The characters in this story, aside from the narrator, which is mostly just the author as herself, although they may resemble people from real life, are all fictitious. While the story is inspired by real events, many details have been changed.


By Grombo (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Grombo (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Mobilizing Friendship

Fused bones in my feet at birth provided significant challenges for me growing up. Although with determination and intense orthopedic care I learned to walk, keeping up with everyone else was usually an unattainable goal. While other kids lagged behind adults because they were dawdling, I lagged behind because my legs simply couldn’t move any faster. Most of the time, my dad just broke down and carried me.

At school, I often resorted to sitting on the steps in front of our classroom rather than attempting to join in fast-paced playground games. Talking with teachers or daydreaming helped me pass the time.

As a teen, I worked hard to keep up with others my age. I poured my energy into youth activities at church. I traveled on mission trips, acted in dramatic productions and toured the Midwest with a puppet team. When it came time for fundraisers, I worked alongside more able-bodied teenagers, waiting tables at charity dinners and slinging Cokes at concession stands. When my swollen feet could no longer bear my weight, I laughed the pain away and found something productive I could do from a seated position.

My determination earned the respect of other teens. One friend who had been like a brother to me growing up decided there was no reason for me to fall behind or miss out on adventures when he could do something about it. I don’t remember the first time we made the arrangement, but throughout high school, we traveled as a team. I would walk as long as my legs allowed. Then Andrew would carry me piggyback for the rest of the excursion.

Andrew carried me around the Smithsonian museums in Washington, across the boardwalks of several old cow towns in Kansas and around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I rode on his back through Silver Dollar City and Branson, Missouri. We enjoyed Orlando together as he carried me piggyback around the Magic Kingdom and Sea World. Even the French Quarter of New Orleans found me riding on the back of my caring, fit and loyal friend. In Texas, he got a break when we went horseback riding together. After my temperamental mare did her best to buck me off, I kept my feet on the ground for the rest of that trip. In the inner city of Nassau, Bahamas, Andrew once again provided transportation for me as we picked through trash-filled neighborhoods on our way back to our hotel from the mission worksite.

After high school graduation, Andrew married the girl he’d been dating for the past year and a half. I went on to college. We lost touch. I kept up my habit of working hard—joined a mime troupe, found a cure for my ailing legs in reflexology and energy treatments, learned to dance.

Yesterday, I read an obituary online. Andrew died unexpectedly two weeks ago. I hadn’t seen him since his wedding. I never verbalized how much he meant to me—although what our friendship meant to each other was never lost on those who saw us together. I don’t know why we lost touch originally, but losing Andrew this way—that shouldn’t have happened.

The Lame Shall Walk

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers for May 23.

The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt.

Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create.

My piece weighs in this week at exactly 100 words.

Copyright Erin Leary

Copyright Erin Leary


The Lame Shall Walk

Crippled since birth, Jeanine always dreamed of leaping to the top of a fence and walking along it the way some of her more athletic classmates did. After hours of work with her physical therapist, she learned to walk short distances on her own. Still, mobilization remained challenging for her.

When the accident happened, Jeanine’s world went black. In the distance, she could see a faint light. As she headed toward it, the light grew wider, then brighter. Through the fog, Jeanine saw a fence. She hopped up on it, caught her balance and began to run. This was heaven!