That bus ride home for Jessica had changed everything.
She realized that some stranger had crept several feet behind her. For others, their hearts would usually pound. But Jessica isn’t one of those people. She was curious.
Before she can expose the stranger in any way, she decided to lay low. She pretended to walk slowly to her doorstep while glancing behind to look at him with the corner of her eye.
And then, she couldn’t fake anymore. So she walked inside carefully and went to watch from the windows.
Now, the stranger. Jess looked at his face. He seemed to be impatient, but cautious. Jess was good at figuring things out. She thought of a possible scenario. Maybe he was waiting for a delivery that no one was supposed to know about.
The stranger started to pace.
A few minutes later, another stranger came by. He wore a regular outfit, black jeans, and a dark brown hoodie. But the way he came made him seem like a ghost, the king of darkness. He made his way toward the first stranger. The second stranger held a box. Just an ordinary box. The first stranger accepted the box and walked toward Jess’s doorstep. The next thing she heard was a ring from her doorbell. Jess gulped.
Her mother was taking an afternoon nap, so she had to get it herself. She opened the door with a creak, just a tiny bit so she can see outside with only one eye. She peered down— the box laid still.
But the strangers were gone.
Jess had the urge to open it. She also had the urge to snatch her phone, dial 911, and call the police. But the mystery was onto her, and she was determined to be the one to solve the puzzle.
She squatted down to pick up the tiny box. She shook it slightly, holding it close to her ear. Yes, she did, in fact, hear something, but she realized they were soft, not hard and metallic. She decided it was safe enough, and opened the box.
When she opened it, she looked at the item carefully.
But she didn’t need to. What were in the box, were socks.
Huh? She scratched her head. Why were there socks in the box? She didn’t understand.
She looked at it closely. She touched every part of the pair, but there was nothing in them, nor were there any stains or pricks. It was a flawless pair of socks. They were new and beautiful. The colors of them were gray, and it had a small penguin as a cute design. But there was something wrong, she thought.
She put the socks back in the box, held it tight in her hand, and turned her direction to go upstairs. But after she took a step forward, she slipped. She slipped on some… paper.
“Paper?” Jess said to herself. “Why is there some scrunched up paper on the floor?”
She picked it up cautiously. She paused before she opened it up. Many wrinkles that couldn’t be mended made it hard for her to read.
To anyone who found the socks—
Please read this note. Do not try on the socks.
If someone you know or do not know tries them on, their memories will be gone. They will forget all.
This… is crazy, she thought. She continued.
You are wondering why you received them. You received these because you are in great danger. You must use these socks to help you. I must tell you no more, for you will find out more on your own.
Do not tell ANYONE about the socks, nor show them this letter. That is truly forbidden.
Beware of magic, for it is very real and can cause great harm. The world depends on you, and so do we.
If anyone you know wears the socks, the next very words will be the steps of the cure…
Jess stopped reading. Magic isn’t real. I’ve been scammed again. She sighed and carried the box upstairs to her room. She yawned. She would find out the answer to this mystery sooner or later, right now all she wanted was a good night sleep…
“Stay. Away. From. The. Box.”
Jess was cornered; a large white-haired man pointed the staff at her. Three out of the four men held a spear. The other one held the box, as if it was filled with thousands of rich diamonds.
“We sent it to the wrong person. I will have to confiscate this.”
“But why?” Jess asked. “They are just socks.”
“More than socks,” the man answered. “They are truly magical.”
“Off you go!” the man yelled, waving the staff at Jess. Everything turned white, then dark blue, then black.
Then she woke up.
Jess yawned. What a weird dream. It seemed… so real. She thought to herself. She looked around, searching for the box.
The box! Jess opened her eyes wider, searching more wildly. Where did the box go?
She hurried downstairs, but only saw her mother heading toward the bathroom. Her feet didn’t make the usual light taps on the wooden floor. Jess gulped.
Please, please, please, do not be wearing the socks.
She didn’t believe in magic. But if magic was real, then her whole life is over.
She leaned forward to see the bottom half of her mother. Her feet—
She had the socks.
Jess cried out, “Mom! Stop!” She dashed toward the bathroom, making it there in time. She caught her breath. “M-mom!” Wheeze. “Take those socks off!” Wheeze.
Her mother had a confused look on her face. “Jess? What are you doing here?”
Wait. So she remembers me?
“When’s my birthday?” Jess asked, slowly.
She was still confused. “November twenty-fifth, 2008.”
“My favorite ice cream flavor?”
“Panda. Or dolphin. Or koala. Or… I don’t know! Jess! What’s going on?”
Jess was really relieved. The socks have been a scam! At least, she hoped. She also hoped she can find more about these suspicious scam socks.
After Jess finally gave Mom permission to go to the bathroom AFTER she took her socks off, she went to watch from the window again. Maybe that strange guy will come back.
And, as Jess suspected, he did. Two of them again. But the whole picture was strange. The man who gave the box to the person who put it on her doorstep was yelling at him. His whole face was red.
Jess wanted to stay at home and watch, but she knew she can’t take any more of this mystery. So, clutching the box, she went outside in the hot sun.
“There you are!” the man with the red face shouted to Jess. He marched toward her and held out his hand for the box.
“You…You want this?” Jess asked, her voice crackling.
“Oh no, I NEED it! This idiot next to me gave the box to the wrong person! He was supposed to give it to someone next door to you!” He hissed in the man’s ear, “If you never gave it to her, none of this would have happened! You idiots are always so full of shit that you never pay attention!”
“Wait, who lives next door to me?” Jess asked, ignoring the first man’s rude comment.
“Why, Kathleen Stephanie Wilkerson, the queen of magic!” the second man blurted out.
“You weren’t supposed to tell her that!” the first man hollered. Jess didn’t think it was possible, but his face got even redder.
“Wait… Are any of you guys related to this dream I had yesterday?”
“Of course! Kathleen sent you that dream. She thought it would work. But it didn’t. So the next thing she did was drain the power of the socks so whoever wore it wouldn’t lose memory. We had to give her that note so she can give it to Agustina Wilkerson, her first cousin, so she can give it to Isabella Wilkerson. Then—”
“Wait, why can’t you just give it directly to the person that you want to give it to?” Jess asked. Magic was weird.
The first man sighed. “Sadly, magic doesn’t work that way,” he says. “Just like family has generations, and generations have steps, family also has steps. If you need to give something to someone, you have to give it to the youngest of the generation, to the oldest. But if you need to give it to the youngest, then you just give it to the youngest.”
Jess couldn’t take any more information about magic. She just wanted them to leave as soon as possible. “I guess the mystery is solved.”
The second man just stayed quiet as if he was afraid the first man would yell at him again.
“You better go in; your mother will be waiting.” The first man waved to her, and he and the second man started to leave.
“Wait,” Jess said.
They turn around.
A smile began to form on her thin lips. “Don’t you need the box first?”