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Patent Leather Stilettos
It happened when I was six years old. My best friend Macy and I were trying to find ways to make the time pass on a sweltering day in July. We slowly pushed open the door to my mother’s bedroom, and nervously checked to make sure nobody was watching. I climbed up on top of my mother’s stool and looked at myself in the mirror of her vanity.
I just remember looking pale. With small brown freckles dotting my face, like the stars in the sky. I distinctly recall looking at my hands and studying my soft and unwrinkled skin. I looked back in the mirror and tilted my head, examining my chin. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in when Macy came up behind me and whispered, “Come on, Julia. We have to hurry.” I nodded in agreement.
I opened up my mother’s vanity and poured the contents onto the floor. Macy and I then proceeded to apply obscene amounts of bright red lipstick and jet-black eyeliner to our faces. We then attempted to paint our nails pink, spilling a half of a bottle of nail polish on the rug. We tried to reverse our actions by dumping a whole bottle of nail polish remover on top of that. We failed.
Realizing that my mother would be home soon, we quickened our pace. We snuck into her closet and pulled out various cocktail dresses, cotton scarves, and cheap high-heeled shoes. Macy grabbed a hold of my mother’s jewelry box and began helping herself. We slipped huge amounts of oversized fabric over our heads, and piled on costume rings, and plastic pearls. Macy and I each chose our very own pair of high heels to wear. She chose some beat up black ones with a small chip on the heal. However I choose 3 inch-high red, patent leather stilettos. We stumbled over to the mirror, still getting acquainted to our newfound height.
“We look so grow up! Okay, let’s go.” Macy said excited, pulling my hand towards the door. I pulled away. “Wait,” I said, “I don’t like my dress. This isn’t grown up enough.” I walked slowly back into my mother’s closet, peeling my eyes for anything special. Then I saw it. Hung up, so high, like it was meant for heaven, there was a black bag hanging. Jumping up, I pulled the hanger down, and unzipped the garment back, only to discover paradise. It was a knee-length white velvet dress, with beading all around the neckline and the shoulder. I uncovered it, pushing the black bag away.
It looked, so special. I had never seen my mother wear anything like it before. In our small, poor town where everyone knows everyone, people didn’t own things like this. I put the dress on, and reexamined myself in the mirror. “Perfect.” I smiled. Our plan was in full swing. Macy and I put our tennis shoes on, and stashed our heels in our bike baskets. Makeup, jewelry, dresses, and all, we rode one mile on our bikes to the town park. When we finally got to there, everyone was there. Tommy Singers, Danny Summers, Tim Bowman, and every other cute guy in this place. Macy and I put on our heels, and began to march straight up to those boys. Just as we were approaching, I could see in the distance someone coming closer, and closer to the park. She started out as a dot, and got bigger and bigger until finally I recognized her face. She began to pick up pace, now jogging. Then, she began to run.
I stood there, frozen. I had no idea what to do. My mother sprinted up to me, and aggressively jolted me towards her. She gripped my shoulders so tight, I thought I would die. She said in an unsteady voice, “Julia. Why are you wearing that?” I shrugged. She continued, “This is my only nice dress. It was worth more than anything I own, and you ruined it with dirt, mud, and soot.”
“I’m sorry Mommy.” I said apologetically. Tears began to stream down my face. “Sweetie, I want you to be you. And this is for big girls. High heels and makeup and nice dresses are for big girls. Not you. “ I continued crying and tried to pull away from her. She grabbed me again, “Don’t you run away from me young lady.” I stayed motionless. “Julia, I just want you to be yourself. You don’t belong in this.” I let out a moan, letting my mother know she had broken my heart. All I wanted was for her to say she was proud of me, and that she loved me, and that she thought I looked amazing, and that I did the right thing. I jerked away from her, pulling free. Leaving my bike behind, I kicked off my red shoes and began to run. I kept running. I could here my mother’s voice behind me telling me not to. Telling me to do what she said. Even at six, I thought she was wrong.
I felt so beautiful. I felt tall, and graceful. I felt ready, and confident. I stood facing forward, waiting for the doors to open. This was my big moment. Just as I was ready to go, I could see down the hallway someone coming closer, and closer to the me. She started out as a dot, and got bigger and bigger until finally I recognized her face. She began to pick up pace, now jogging. Then, she began to run. She came up to me, and I shook my head in disbelief. “Mom? What are you doing here I told you not to come.” She looked at me softly, “I had to. It’s my job, even if I don’t agree with what your doing.” I looked at her, “Well I don’t want you here.”
She put her hand on her hip, “Julia, what are you doing here anyway? I mean really tell me.” I shrugged. I had nothing to prove. “What are you doing? I raised such a good girl, and then you went and exposed her to the city and now look who she’s turned out to be!” I looked at her apologetically, “I’m sorry Mom, but this is my decision.” I nodded to the door boy, as if to tell him to start. My mother interrupted, “Wait. Don’t do this so suddenly. Julia, this isn’t you. This has never been the life you wanted, and you will fail miserably at it. Trust me. I know.”
I let out a sigh, letting my mother know she had broken my heart. All I wanted was for her to say she was proud of me, and that she loved me, and that she thought I looked amazing, and that I did the right thing. I nodded to the man again, as he pushed open the tall oak doors. Everyone stood up. I looked back at my mother, and then I began to run away from her. I ran, all the way down the aisle, and up to the altar. It was almost kind of funny. After all these years, I still just felt like a silly little girl. Who was wearing a white dress that she didn’t belong in, and who couldn’t follow her mother’s directions, no matter how hard she tried.