When you look online at Audrey’s Corner, pictures of a beautiful girl instantly catch your eye. Her bright smile invites you to click open articles that use the power of words to destigmatize stressors of student life, such as bullying, which are topics that Audrey’s Corner strives to openly discuss and which Audrey herself spoke so bravely about. So much so that her hometown’s newspaper, The Greenwich Time, commemorated her efforts in a published article and video.
My short story “Hallway Socks” follows the fictional character Anna Greenwich as she battles bullies and mental illness. Named in honor of Audrey’s hometown of Greenwich, Conn., I wrote “Hallway Socks” in memory of the brave, strong and resilient young woman who continues to inspire us all.
Anna Greenwich slept through her alarm every morning. The other Greenwichs, all morning people, never understood why the youngest of their bunch had such terrible trouble waking up with the sun. She’d told them once, over breakfast under a still-dark sky, that the moon trapped her in her dreams.
This morning in particular, it took Anna an extra ten minutes to untangle herself from her dreams. She’d write them all down later in the green journal her mother gave her the summer before sixth grade. A place to keep all your dreams, she’d said, especially the ones you have when those eyes of yours are open wide.
Now her mother was standing at the foot of her twin-sized bed, arms crossed over a chest Anna firmly believed held the world’s warmest heart. Except, sometimes, that heart was too busy making sure everyone was awake to worry about keeping them warm.
“Anna, you’re gonna miss the bus if you don’t get your butt out from under those covers right now!”
“I’m not going,” a sigh sounded from somewhere within the pile of pillows.
“Are you sick?”
“Then you’re going.”
Familiar hands clamped around shoulders too small to protest.
“Please, I’ll go tomorrow. I promise.”
Feet hit the blue carpet, toes curling at the cool contact of reality.
“You’ll go today, too.”
Goosebumps trailed up a spine clothed in what-ifs. What if she tripped? What if they laughed at her?
“You don’t understand. I hate it there.”
The hands let go, and Anna leaned back. Yesterday’s dreams welcomed her goosebumps.
“What’s so bad? I thought you liked all your classes this year?” Her mother’s voice broke through her dreamland.
“I do. It’s the hallways.” She whispered the word. Anything louder would wake her lamp, whose fluorescent hue she couldn’t seem to stand these days.
“What’s wrong with the hallways?”
“Everybody walks with their friends. And some of the girls, the ones with the rolled-down Uggs, always laugh to each other when I walk past by myself. Like somehow not having friends means I don’t have ears.”
“What about that girl from English class—Gianna? I remember you inviting her over a few weeks ago to work on a project. Why don’t you walk with her?”
“She’s an English friend. Not a hallway friend.”
“Why can’t she be both?”
“Because she’d rather walk around with her hallway friends in the morning.”
Silence fought its way between the pair: two hearts broken for one.
“I’ll be your hallway friend.” A whisper.
“I’d rather stay home.” A laugh.
“Wait right here.”
“Socks?” Anna sat up, back stuck against a yellow wall.
“Not just any socks. My favorite pair. Wear these, and when you walk down those halls, I’ll be right there beneath your shoes, taking every step with you.”
“I don’t know…”
But she was already at the edge of her bed, feet dangling, teasing reality. A smile lit up her mother’s face, one Anna couldn’t help returning.
“Okay, fine. I’ll try them on, I guess.”
In her mother’s socks, the fluorescent light of her lamp glowed. Her moonlight dreams danced along the tile floors. For the first time, Anna reveled in the way reality felt against her soles.
The girls with the Ugg boots laughed when she turned the corner. Anna stared at them instead of ducking her gaze like she usually did.
They were the joke. The smile that graced her lips told them so.
She wiggled her toes to the tune of the bell. Maybe she’d make a hallway friend or maybe she wouldn’t. Really, it didn’t matter. She had herself and her mother’s hallway socks.