This was written earlier today in a coffee shop in Manchester whilst waiting slightly too long for a train (yes, I know, trains go from stations, not coffee shops). It was inspired by Iz McAuliffe (@izmc) who, when asked for a one word theme for a story, said the only word that ever pops into her one-track mind: shoes.
So here it is:
More than anything at all, Angela wanted to run her own shoe shop.
She would sit lazily in coffee shops dreaming of gleaming shelves, recessed halogen lights, ankle height mirrors, full length ones too: a shining cathedral of shoes. She would drift off on the train and miss her stop, walk twenty minutes home instead of five, caught up in tissue and boxes, waterproof spray and fourteen shades of polish. She had researched, once, online, the cost of retail space, how to find wholesalers, merchant bank accounts, the mechanics of it all. That sort of thing was dull but necessary, she knew, like socks.
Most of all, she closed her eyes and dreamt of the shoes themselves. Shoes for the red carpet, all heels and gold. Shoes for a bride, pure and soft against the stone flags of an aisle. Shoes for the corporate presentation, the first date, the Christmas party, the day at the beach. Shoes for the house, the street, the garden, the shops. Shoes for the day, the evening, the night. Shoes for lovers, shoes for husbands, shoes to show that lovers and husbands no longer mattered after they were gone.
Angela had had a lover once, a lover who became a husband. She had shoes in her wardrobe that lasted longer than her marriage.
Alone now, in the evenings, in the winter, she would pass the quiet darkness by bringing her shoes out of the wardrobe, inspecting them, turning them over in her hands. And she would think about the pairs, the couples. And she would think about how every shoe belonged with just one single other. And she would think about how shoes were together their whole lives. How if one shoe wore out, the other would be sacrificed along with it. The eternal fidelity of shoes.
In the quiet darkness, Angela would bring the shoes out of her wardrobe and turn them over in her hands.
Every pair of shoes reminded her of the quiet darkness.
Every pair of shoes reminded her that she was alone.
Every pair of shoes told her why she could never run her own shoe shop, no matter that she wanted it more than anything at all.