Little White Shoes

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She was wearing a yellow dress with pink juice splotches and a new pair of little white shoes. Her shoe laces were untied, just sitting there wiggling like the worms she clutched in her hand. The worms from the dirt that was spread across her face. But she was not in the dirt anymore, she was nowhere in the park. She wasn’t fearfully looking over the edge of the slide, wasn’t turning in circles on the tire swing, wasn’t making a pie in the mud. The little girl was nowhere to be found, and there was her daddy, just sitting under a tree.
Her daddy thought of the time she giggled as he made funny faces. She had lost her pet lady bug, the one she found in the park at lunch, the one with the red wings and black spots. The lady bug was gone, and she wanted him back. So her daddy made her giggle to forget about her little bug, forget how she had stepped on him with her little white shoes.
Her little white shoes used to always find a way to get dirty. Bugs, mud, sand, crayons, markers, food; the shoes were never really white, just a blank canvas to color with life. The only time they were ever white was that day at the park when she had on that yellow dress with the pink juice splotches. Her daddy liked that day very much. He liked playing airplane with her and chatting with the park moms as he showed off his little girl in her brand new shoes. But he couldn’t pick up his little girl and swing her around in circles anymore, cause the little girl was gone; all grown up.
Of course he still had those shoes. Little white shoes painted with the colors of life. That is how he liked to think of those shoes. He liked to think of how that orange dot got on the toe of the shoe when his little girl had her first Creamsicle at the pool and it melted all over her because she was too afraid to eat it. How their slightly brown tint was from running around in the dirt during her adventures in the forest playing Robin Hood and Batman and Princess Leah. He liked to think about the time she first tied those shoelaces on her own, how suddenly her shoelaces were in perfect little bows all the time. How suddenly she could run without tripping in the mud and scratching her elbows because her shoelaces were now always tied. He liked to think of these things. Liked to look at those little white shoes.
But then she got purple shoes, and then blue shoes, and then black shoes, and then yellow shoes, and then he lost count. There were too many shoes; she was too big to fit in her little white shoes now. Mommy said to throw them out, why would anyone want to keep those ratty old shoes? Well he did. He want to keep his little girl and her shoes stained with life. He didn’t tell anyone, just put them in the back of the closet taking them out when he missed his little girl. Missed her pitter pattering footsteps as she ran away from the dragons and unicorns and knights trying to catch her. Missed her squeals of happiness on Christmas morning, her insistence that just one more story before bed wouldn’t hurt.
And still the daddy was just sitting there under the tree looking for his little girl and her white shoes. But instead of finding his little girl, he found his daughter. She was carrying a little boy who had on blue shoes. Blue shoes with white racing stripes on the sides and muddy stains from the dirt all along the bottom. His daughter walked over with the little boy who had fallen asleep in her arms. The daddy got up from under his tree and put his arm over his daughter’s shoulder, being careful not to wake the little boy and his blue shoes with racing stripes. They walked away from the park, the daddy still thinking about those little white shoes, the daughter starting to think about the little blue shoes.





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