Morton’s Toe

Morton’s Toe

The ghost of Candy’s mother-in-law haunts the sock drawer from time to time. Alice is displeased with what she finds inside.

Candy’s husband, Phil, has Morton’s Toe—a usually harmless condition where the middle toe is longer than the big toe.

A noble condition,” Candy told Alice once when she was still alive. “Such a foot is the idealized form of Greek sculpture. The Statue of Liberty has Morton’s Toe.”

“A primitive condition,” Alice had replied. “Grasping toes from primate ancestors.”  Candy had snorted because she did not buy into evolution as Alice did.  They would have had another argument while Phil drank coffee upstairs, but Alice had continued, “A genetic condition. My fault.” Candy held her tongue.

So all of Phil’s socks have a hole and his middle toe sticks out. This was Alice’s pet peeve in life. She often told Candy to take care of Phil and darn his socks. Or buy him new ones, if she hadn’t the will to darn.

Candy often hadn’t the will. The spirit world was too rich and captivating to bother with sock holes. Candy sees ghosts and most others cannot.

Alice often told Candy to get her head out of the clouds and look after her own life. There was no spirit world. I told you so, Candy emotes gently at the ghost of Alice.

Ghosts, Candy has found, aren’t the real people who have crossed over. Ghosts are messages the dead send the living world. Or questions. Candy has noticed that dead mothers send a lot of question ghosts to scout their children, like peering into a baby’s room past midnight to see if all is well.

The sock drawer ghost is such a one, but it is a little unusual. It keeps returning and in increasing distress. Candy has never seen one of Alice’s ghosts so agitated. She sighs.

Candy doesn’t like to touch ghosts, but she must touch them to communicate. Ghost energy puts her on edge for weeks. She has difficulty sleeping and when Candy can’t sleep, things can get through her spiritual armor.

But Candy loved Alice and Candy is no coward. Candy opens the sock drawer, exposing scores of black and brown socks with gold toes. Each has a Morton’s toe hole. Alice’s ghost spasms.

Candy reaches out gently and cups the pulsating energy in her hands. “It’s your fault, you know.”

The ghost exudes incredulity and outrage into Candy’s palms.

“Oh yes. You hated those holes, so you gave him new socks every Christmas. Your last Christmas on earth you gave Phil socks. Of course they got holes, but he wouldn’t let me throw them out because they were his last Christmas present from his mom.”

The ghost is silent, but it radiates warming love almost palpably.

“I bought him new socks. Black and brown with the gold toe—his favorite kind. But we couldn’t tell the special Christmas socks apart from the new replacements. We couldn’t throw away any socks. We just keep getting more and stuffing them in the drawer so he can be sure to keep yours.”

Motherly exasperation pours from the ghost. Candy can almost feel it bury its face in its hands. Laughter too. Alice always appreciated irony.

Candy releases the ghost to report back to the real Alice on the other side. All is well with your son. He is being taken care of, at least in the ways that matter.

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