The Shoes

In an old house, on a dusty shelf, you find a box filled with old shoes. At least that’s what everyone else would see. They would see something worth nothing, something to be thrown out. What they should really see is the story. The miles walked. Let’s say the shoes are old leather shoes from the 30’s. They could have belonged to a man out of work, during the Great Depression. Shoes that were patched and re-patched. Shoes that were tied around a wrist during sleeping hours. Shoes that the man wore as he hopped trains to get to the next town, in search of work. Shoes that walked many miles, on feet tired and worn as the shoes.

You find a pair of old Converse, faded, worn. What’s their story? Could they have belonged to a boy of the 50’s? One who loved baseball, loved running. One of the shoes was ripped, from when he got caught in a barbed-wire fence, running from one of many crazy things gone not exactly right. They were once white but now have many stains from sliding in the grass and splashing through the river during a race. The shoes lived through the best part of the boy’s life.

Next is a pair of old military boots from the 50’s or 60’s. The Vietnam War no doubt. Who did they belong to? How old was he? Did he write home every night to let his folks know he was okay? The shoelaces are broken and tied together, the sole patched up. There’s a neat little hole through the side near the toes. Was it a bullet, or shrapnel? How many miles did these boots take their wearer? Did they see the man through the end of the war, or his life? These boots that were as sturdy and had endure as much as the one who wore them.

There are still a few pairs of shoes left, a pair of what were once fancy pumps with beads on the heel, a pair of tattered children’s shoes, and a pair of broken down, dirty, satin pointe shoes. The beaded pumps were in the 20’s style, with a T-bar strap, the beads meant they were high end, fancy shoes. They might have belonged to a well to do lady who wore them to many parties. They might have trotted, spun, and glided through many dances. How many dance floors were they escorted across? How many dance partners did they see? They might have belonged to an actress of that era. She might have worn them to the theatre to see a premier, or to a rehearsal. She may have worn them to a party after a successful filming session. These shoes that were as glamorous as the lady who wore them.

The next to last pair is the child’s shoes, tiny in comparison to the others. They look like they belonged to a little boy around the age of 7. The worn down laces look like they might not have been the first ones in the shoe. They probably got broken climbing trees, or running around in the backyard. Did the boy wear these while he helped his father build a tree house? Did these shoes protect his young feet from the stones in the street when he played kickball with his friends? Did he wear them when he fell from his bike for the first time? These shoes that were with him when he discovered the world.

The very last pair of shoes are the pointe shoes. Who was the beautiful girl who wore them? These once lovely shoes that are now torn and battered. The toe box is visible from hours upon hours of practice, the ribbons are tattered and worn. The satin thin in many places. How many hours did they keep her on the very tips of her toes? How many dance routines did they see? How many times did they fall with her? The shoes that held together when it seemed like she would not. These shoes that were once as beautiful, soft, and graceful as the dancer who wore them.

So that was it, all of the shoes in the box. As you gently replace the shoes in the box, you can’t help but imagine. How did they get there? Who exactly were the people that wore these shoes? You place the lid on the box and put it back where you found it, on the dusty shelf in this old house. When you walk away you realize that your life will never be the same. You will always think and wonder about the six people and the remaining evidence of their lives that is left sitting in an old wooden box on a dusty shelf. You can’t help but wonder if someone would care enough to one day add a pair of your shoes to that box for someone else to find.





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