Writing Prompt: Day 164

164.jpgDay 164 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story with a heavy focus on shoes.

Shannon: I have this one pair of shoes that have stuck with me through every crazy adventure. The best years of my life so far have been permanently etched into every inch of their makeup from the laces to outsoles. I shouldn’t still wear them anymore. They’re barely functional, but I feel this overwhelming comfort when they’re on my feet. When I have them on I feel the most like myself, and I have this fear that if I throw them out, I’ll be throwing away a lot more than a pair of wore out shoes.

Erin: “Where did you get this?” I ripped the boot out of my dog’s mouth.

He just looked at me with those little innocent eyes. And gave out a happy little bark.

I just sighed and boot in hand started knocking on my neighbors’ doors. While I was walking to the 5th house I heard a man yelling at me. “So, you’re the person who wants me to be late to work.”

“This is your boot?” I spun around and immediately went mute.

“It’s not nice to steal people’s work boots,” he looked out of the top of his beautiful eyes.

“I didn’t, it was…”

“I saw your dog,” he interrupted. “Make me diner to make it up to me,” he grabbed the boot before I could argue and started walking away. “I’ll be at your by 6:30.” I didn’t know what to do, but then does anyone when they meet their future husband.

Help us walk a mile in your character’s shoes.

One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 164

  1. I don’t know what I was thinking, going away to university the year after I graduated high school; I mean, I’d never been more than an hour away from my folks, and never for more than a couple days. Since I got here three days ago I’d video chatted with my mom, mostly shots of her granny slippers until my little sister showed up to help, five times for over an hour each. Here in Port Obscurity, the only person I knew by name was my roommate, Beth, and she didn’t seem nervous about this place at all. In fact, right now, she was probably down in the village at the bar with her fancy emerald heels for wing Wednesday with some of the other biology majors chatting about schedules and what they were going to do on the weekends. Honestly, this place was a bustling little town with the enormous university and quaint shops as well as a sizable supermarket and arts district. The museum and town hall was bigger than mine back home.
    In the first day I made a fool of myself by ruining a perfectly good pair of sneakers attempting to follow some other students through a water fountain; they were perfectly dry, but the second I stepped into the shallow pool I could feel water squishing around in my canvas shoes. After two days sitting out to dry they were still thoroughly soaked through so I was now being religiously careful with my dress shoes to avoid any further soiling. When I glanced over at Beth’s box of clean, sparkling shoes I was filled with gooey green envy for anything to wear other than fuzzy pink bunny slippers or cramped leather shoes I’d brought for special, short occasions. But, I let the longing fade from my mind as I planned out my itinerary for classes, supply shopping and studying.
    After my last humiliating talk with my mom, during which I recounted the soggy tale of my favorite runners, I’d let slip that I wasn’t taking as many courses as we’d discussed, which didn’t go over well. Unfortunately, it had been Mike, my brother’s, turn to help her set up the chat so I got the disappointed speech about why he ended up spending every waking moment of his college career in the library with his nose planted firmly in a book. He, with his crumpled t-shirts and ratty skater shoes, had graduated top of the engineering class and had gone on to work for some kind of government agency that was too boring to commit to memory. Now he strutted about the house on his week-long vacations helping mom with the house and reminding my sister and I how inadequate we both were in school. With his perfectly-pressed dress shirts and shiny shoes, he thought he was better than everyone else; it was possible he was, but no one dared let him know.
    At any rate, I’d been berated not only about ruining my shoes, but also about cutting the academic courses I had planned to take. When I first applied, not that I remember sending the letter at all, I was hoping to take every available computer course from the basics to hard-core programming, along with a couple fluff courses that were available like meditation for beginners and yogi in weeks. Now, I was planning to cut most of the programming in favour of a few more relaxation-based classes I thought might help my anxiety levels. If the meditation courses themselves weren’t so amazing, the fact that instructors were permitted to wear these stupidly comfortable and flexible shoes that made your feet feel both free and cozy at once would have convinced me yoga was good.
    But, as it turned out, comfy footwear and a sense of peace I’d only ever read about weren’t reason enough to ditch real study. So I’d eventually walked back the talk of dropping my important courses and bemoaned about the great speed our professor in basic coding was rushing through the basics. One day I might decide to become a yoga instructor, but I would have to prove that it was a worthwhile goal in the family where genius wasn’t just a fluke. While that day couldn’t come soon enough, I resigned myself to practicing relaxation when I had time during the day; not as a main activity.

    By the time Beth finally returned to the dorm, the sun had long-ago set and my programming schoolwork was almost finished, though not to the perfect degree Mike would have done it. There was a subtle frown creasing her petite features as she kicked off the bone-crunching heels and swapped the revealing shawl for a much-loved sweatshirt at least three sizes too large for her fine frame. When she sat down on the edge of her bed, not noticing that I was watching her, a silent tear dripped down her cheek and smudged the edge of her mascara. Typing quickly with trembling fingers, she furiously wiped at the water, smudging her face further, before flopping down on her quilted comforter.
    “Beth?” I asked weakly, my headphones dangling stupidly from my ears to I could barely hear the bass-centric meditation music blasting from them.
    Her eyelashes fluttered rapidly before she leaned forward into a sitting position and, blushing horribly, fixed a fake smile to her ruby lips. “Oh, hey Aria, I didn’t want to disturb you; you looked pretty in-the-zone,” she explained, forcing a high laugh and nervously clutching at her cell until her knuckles were white.
    Shutting the laptop with a light snap and removing the silent earbuds, I looked at her red eyes before diverting my gaze out of embarrassment. “Uh, Beth, your mascara’s, uh, well, it’s running a bit,” keeping my voice down, I glanced out of the corner of my eye as she dabbed carefully at her face with a cotton ball from her desk.
    She sniffed indignantly and removed most of the ruined makeup before turning back to me. “The other students don’t like me that much. Apparently I’m too goody-goody for them,” she sighed, letting the phone fall on her pillow as she slipped her feet into a pair of comfortable slippers. Tying up her long hair in a ponytail that trickled down her back like a waterfall, she looked at me with some kind of silent understanding between us. “I asked one of the guys out and he said he would, until he just texted me, an hour later, to say that he wasn’t interested. I’m going to have to see him and that bi-” she began, shutting her eyes and breathing as though she were swallowing fire, before continuing, “- that woman in every class for the rest of the year.” Rage had filled the empty cavity the sadness had washed out and I could see Beth’s eyes glint like hot embers before my eyes.
    Being careful not to get too close to the dragon, I placed my laptop on my desk and turned on the portable speaker Mike got me for a graduation present. Soothing waves crashing on a distant, crystal shore washed over the room and began to work its strange, calming magic on Beth. The traces of melancholy and fury that had fallen from Beth’s shoulders and stuck to me were immediately drowned as the music bathed me in light and positive energy. I leaned forward at my closet, plucking the flexible shoes I wore for yoga from their prestigious spot on top of my gym bag before turning to my roommate.
    “Come on Beth; it’ll be good for both you and me. We’ve had a tough couple days,” I smiled, feeling slightly lightheaded and free of our distractions. Reaching out for her hand, I tugged her off the bed and onto the rough carpet. When we were both sitting in lotus pose with my feet snuggly in their shoes and my eyes shut on reality, I spoke softly into the crashing waves, “Alright, we’re gonna just breath out for three counts and in for three counts,” pausing as we both did this for a few, synchronized beats, before continuing, “And out, and in.” I could already feel the day’s emotions sluffing off of my soul.
    But there came uncomfortable movement and groaning so I opened my eyes to find Beth struggling to get into position. “Alright, Aria, I love the calming atmosphere, but this music is making me have to pee. I’ll be back in a minute,” she spoke quietly as she stood and reached for the door. “How about something with just regular music that won’t make me feel like I’m about to float away, huh?”
    With the door shut behind her, I grumbled about that being my best soundtrack, but stood stiffly to change it, flicking through until I found a playlist with a good deal of chanting. I found that focusing on words could help to occupy an easily-distracted mind from insidious thoughts about the world beyond themselves. Before I settled back into my perfect pose, I padded softly to the mountain of shoes spilling out of Beth’s closet, feeling that horrible disrupting feeling of envy nagging at my mind like an insolent child. Touching the sandy surface of a glittering pair of loafers, I snapped out of the treacherous trance and found myself relaxed again in the flowing woodwind music.
    “Okay, so, I guess I should have taken these stupid slippers off to go out there,” Beth pouted, shaking off the offending footwear and hunting for a pair of warm socks to combat the slight draft. When I let out an obnoxious snort, she threw a bundled pair of socks at my head, missed, and continued to search for something to wear on her cold feet.
    Laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, I rocked back and forth until the room stopped spinning and I could speak, “Well, at least you weren’t wearing those,” I pointed to my own fuzzy rabbit slippers with an accusatory finger. “Go out wearing those, even just across the hall to fill up your water bottle, and those girls a couple doors down’ll remind you every time you leave about it.” Self-deprecation had never been my strong suit until my dad left my mom; now I was getting pretty good at using it to make people laugh at someone, even if it was me. “Anyway, as requested, no running water in the background,” I sighed, bowing my head to Beth.
    She plunked down on the carpet again and we started the breathing exercise anew, this time without the urge to pee overcoming either of us. After a few minutes, or hours or days, I felt a bubbling lightness starting to lift me up into the air. That was the goal for me; getting to such a deep point in the relaxation that I felt I was weightless and boundless. I’d only been successful once before during a class, but that had been right at the end and the wondrous feeling that made every inch of my skin tingle had disappeared seconds later. This time, though, I felt my being lifting to the ceiling without a worldly tether like time passing to hold me down.
    I was feeling spectacular until a shriek popped the bubble of calm, startling me out of the trance. “Aria!” screamed Beth as my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing and the obvious predicament I was in became clear. Sitting cross-legged, solidly planted on the grungy carpet, several feet below me was Beth, staring in disbelief at my body hanging, literally, in midair.
    “Uh, Beth, I just need to clarify that I didn’t accidentally ingest some hallucinogenic material, but am I-” I began, but was cut off by my roommate.
    “-hanging in midair? Yeah, you are. What’s happening? Is this supposed to happen?” she asked, carefully getting to her feet and reaching a long hand up to touch my foot tentatively.
    After thinking for a moment, still in the fog of relaxation, I focused all my energy and concentration on the floor. Gradually, I drifted back to the floor, where I spent the next several hours in a stupor so deep I didn’t notice the blue-sealed letter that was slipped under the door.

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