Friday, July 15, 2011

The Shoes That Were Her

This week’s writing prompt from the Red Dress Club was:

One of my favorite parts of summer is THE SHOES. So for your prompt this week I’d like you to write about your character (or yourself) and a pair of his or her shoes.

Those shoes can be real or symbolic, they can hurt or be super comfy but I want to see what they say about the life of the person wearing them. It’s a chance to use all those descriptive words I love reading.

I chose fiction because reality is all I ever write about here.

She looked down at her foot and then back up at her surroundings. The place was packed and her salesman was nowhere to be seen. Again, she looked at the shoe. The soft suede straps crossed neatly over her arch and ended up wrapped around her ankle. The dark tan complimented her pale skin. The heels were too high to be practical but they were so chic- meant to be worn with cuffed jeans or a dressy skirt. They were the life she wanted not the life she had. She chewed on her thumb pulling at a sharp piece of cuticle that refused to lie flat. Why did it do that? Then it snagged things. One more tug and it peeled off, the skin underneath starting to bleed. Damn. Now it wouldn’t stop and would make a mess. Focus.

She wanted these shoes. She had lovely narrow feet and slender ankles, made for shoes like these. They fit her perfectly, the leather soft against the delicate skin of her insole. Even the strap around her ankle accentuated the length of her leg. Although her life had turned downward they had stayed the same. She stood up and moved to the mirror. For such a high heel it was surprisingly comfortable. Something to do with extra padding not the kind of thing you found in Payless shoes. Of course, for $675 you ought to be walking on clouds. In the same way, movement brought none of the pinching or chafing you got with cheap shoes. They felt like an extension of her skin. Only oh so much more fabulous.

A half turn and a quick look over her shoulder showed that these shoes even made her ass look great. Next to her was an older woman in a practical pair of flats. That’s what she should be buying but what did that get you? From one place to another but that was it. Shoes like this made you special, made your legs long and your stride confident. You went to clubs and restaurants where people had long lunches with a glass of wine. She used to do that. She used to be that. The fact that she had been reduced to comfortable pleather shoes was circumstantial and not her fault. She belonged in these shoes and was simply reclaiming what was rightfully hers.

She looked around again. Her salesman was knee deep in leather, helping a woman who had already set aside 2 pairs of designer shoes for purchase. He would never notice if she left. She moved carefully back to her chair with a hyper awareness of everyone around her. Now that the thought had lodged itself in her brain her mind was speeding up, weighing the possibilities and the outcomes. Only not really. Only one outcome- walking out of this store in these shoes and re-starting her life.
Carefully, she leaned over, and pulled her jeans back down over her calves. They were long and covered the shoes to halfway down the heel. She looked at several of the other pairs around her, crossing her legs and tucking them under the chair, weighing them, picking them up, assessing; a woman in the midst of deciding which pair to buy. Finally, with a sigh, she put her old shoes in the box and closed the lid. A fluid move and she had scooped up her purse and was moving steadily, confidently towards the door. No one stopped her and no one would. She was walking out to her new life.


Writerly Wanna Be said...

The things some women will do in the name of shoes!

MarieElizabeth said...

oh, I didn't see that ending coming! Really interesting surprise. I also liked the part - it's not about the life you have but the one you want. Some shoes really do give me that feeling too. :)

Galit Breen said...

I *so* didn't see that coming!

Shocking. Brilliant, really.

I loved this -From one place to another but that was it- for the simplicity and poignancy in the message.

Such a great take on the prompt!

Sarah Mac said...

I really got caught up in this.I was willing her to do exactly what she did! (but please don't tell my mother:).

A great piece of writing, LOVED it!!

Abby said...

"That’s what she should be buying but what did that get you? From one place to another but that was it."

I really enjoyed this whole piece, that the paragraph with that line above was my favorite. I loved it and was there myself, that thin line between needs and wants and priorities. We all long for that glass slipper, don't we?

JennieB said...

Fantastic ending and not at all what I expected! I really identified with the character's feeling of wanting to get back to a life before, and the momentary , though necessarily fleeting, rush she got from inhabiting that life for a bit.

Catherine said...

Thank you SO much everyone! I think we've all been there- when we think a thing will change our lives and I know I've been there when I've wanted a pair of shoes I could not afford and thought 'what if I just walk out?'. Never acted on it, though, until this piece!

@Sarah Mac-your secret is safe w/ me! My mother would be horrified as well.

tweedlibrarian said...

This is a great story, Catherine. The way you describe the shoes and the feeling of how they'd change her life really resonated with me - a new pair of shoes can seem to be the answer to my day-to-day problems. And the ending was a nice twist - I was expecting her to cave and put them on her charge card. Really good story!

lafemmeroar said...

I love the way you structured the story and the ending. Nice use of shoes as a signifier.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Hmmmm. That bends the mind to wonder what's up next for this character.

Renee Schuls-Jacobson said...

"Shoes like this made you special, made your legs long and your stride confident. You went to clubs and restaurants where people had long lunches with a glass of wine. She used to do that. She used to be that."

I love these lines.

I'm here from LBS on your repost. I also did the shoe prompt, so I came looking to see other folks I might have missed. I really like your piece. I also like that you went for fiction when you usually do non-fiction. That's my mojo, too. I fictioned up some memoir.

If you care to read mine, well... look for the frog. (I always link up incorrectly.) Or look for my name. I asked Kelly if she would fix things internally so if you can't find me, just go here: ;-)

Nice to meet you.

The Drama Mama said...

I love love love love love that she walked out with them on. I love it.

I'm stopping in from TRDC Weekend linkup, and so happy I did. :)

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