Short Story: Sole Mates

Sole Mates
 
The honeymoon was over. Merona and Merino were headed to their new home nestled together. The two were pretty much inseparable since birth and now were opening the next exciting chapter of their lives.
 
As the two snuggled into their roomy top drawer apartment for the night, the neighboring couples – a colorful bunch – greeted the newlyweds with a variety of sentiments.
 
“Congratulations!” said a youngish couple with enthusiasm, “I’m sure you will love it here.”
 
A raggedy old pair agreed. “Get some good sleep. You two have a long day ahead of you. Carine plans to hike through the valley with you before cleaning up for a dinner party.”
 
“Ooh, a hike!” said Merona. “We were made for those,” feeling slightly silly for stating the obvious. Carine had purchased the wooly couple from the nearby sports store specifically for the occasion.
 
Merona and Merino bid goodnight to their neighbors and settled in, dreaming of beautiful sunrises, dusty trails and breathtaking scenic views.
 
The morning hike was all that they visualized and more. The surly-voiced hiking boots turned out to be a great tour guide, sharing stories of the valley as well as highlighting the various critter sightings from previous trips.
 
As Merona and Merino returned home, they sighed with gratitude for their fortunate life after hearing some horror stories from passing couples while residing in the store. Couples separated all the time, or were mutilated and adorned with buttons for childish purposes. There was no doubt from either of them: they would be together forever.
 
Once home, Carine stripped them from her feet and tossed them towards the hamper. Merino landed safely on top of the pile, while Merona flew past and landed just behind the bin.
 
Knowing Merona had separation anxiety, Merino shouted down, “You’ll be alright! Carine is cleaning up the place, so you’ll join me in a few minutes.”
 
Relaxing a bit, Merona waited and waited. Tired from the hike, she dozed off.
 
Rousing hours later from her hidden spot, she looked up saw the hamper was empty! Her mind raced as she imagined herself old and graying, warning other young couples of the same fate. Shaking herself from the vision, Merona decided not to take this laying down. She had to find her soul mate.
 
Peering out from the back of the bin, Merona scanned the room. Carine was no where to be seen, but the door was cracked open. She slinked over to the door to discover a pile of clothes on the other side next to a large white, noisy machine. She called out for Merino, but he didn’t answer.
 
A dusty pair of shorts recognized her from the hike. He shouted back, “He’s in the machine!”
 
Immediately and instinctually, Merona hooked one end of herself on a nail in the door frame. She backed up as far as she could stretch, and let go, catapulting her up onto the ledge of the machine, where she found a vast swirling pool of water.
 
Merona looked across the milky grey waves frothing with potential danger. She knew she must brave the waters if she ever wanted to see her love again.
 
After a steady countdown in her head, the word, “Jump!” escaped her before she slipped beneath the waves.

Spinning through the watery vortex, Merona scrambled now to save herself. Other clothes had met a similar fate but seemed oddly calm considering the terrifying experience.
 
From the swirling water, they all were transferred into a heated blower machine. Already dizzy and seasick, Merona was losing hope of ever finding her husband alive again.
 
Exhausted from all the swishing and tumbling unlike any she had ever known, Merona lay limp on the bed next to the other socks, pants and shirts. She still had not found Merino.
 
As Merona sobbed mourning the memory of her lost love, Carine moved methodically, pulling another pair of pants from the pile of laundry and onto the ironing board. Suddenly, Merona noticed a familiar texture peeking out of the front pocket. Unable to vocalize, Merona felt helpless as she saw the hot iron approaching what had to be Merino.
 
To Merona’s (and Merino’s) relief, Carine noticed the bulge just before she set the hot black iron to work to smooth out the creases. Carine snatched him from the pocket, then scanned the pile for Merona.
 
Reunited, the two curled up together in a ball. As Carine escorted them back to their cozy apartment, Merino promised, “I will never let that happen again.”

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