My New Calling by Madeline McEwen

A year ago, when Covid first hit, I noticed a middle-aged man purposefully walking the streets dressed in his pajamas. I smiled. Oh well, someone’s having an off day.

But I kept an eye on the street, and pajama day, for someone, happened every few weeks.

I spotted a neighbor heading for the strip mall in their pajamas, robe, and slippers. I pondered Was that a thing, an oversight, a fashion trend I missed or the crumbling of civilization?

The weeks melted into months.

Some of my neighbors, dog-walkers, and strangers on the sidewalk wore thick socks stuffed into open-backed slippers, tired slippers, slippers that had seen better days.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the months burped into a year.

The chilly days of January trudged by while February loomed as February always does—the only month that slips our collective memory—the longest shortest month.

I perched on the front porch. Next to me, close-at-hand, my battered sneakers and their threadbare laces glared at me. Was I ready to wrestle them onto my feet?

I heard the slap, slap, slap of slippers on the sidewalk. Ignoring my sneakers, I stood and raised a hand in greeting to the slapper mooching along seemingly without a care in the world. “Good choice,” I called. I knew I was a convert too. “Can I join your club?”

Madeline McEwen [she/her] has enjoyed publication in a variety of different outlets both online and in traditional print. Her fiction and non-fiction focuses primarily on disabilities [ableism] and humor. She has numerous short stories and a few stand-alone novelettes. Her latest short story, Stepping On Snakes, appears in the Me Too Anthology edited by Elizabeth Zelvin published by Level Best Books, and Benevolent Dictatorship published in Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II edited by Mysti Berry.