Bare Feet

I was about half asleep when I heard a knock on the door.

“Barely there.” I said out loud, slightly hating the world for sending me a visitor at this exact moment. As much as I wanted to close my eyes tighter and pretend I wasn’t home, I knew better. So I groaned, swung my legs over the side of the couch, and made my way to the door. I quickly grazed my hand through my short, scruffy hair before opening it.

Standing there before me was my best friend, wearing the most ridiculous smile on her face. Whenever she smiled like that, her big brown eyes would shine through her long, golden-blond bangs and you could see the slight crookedness of her teeth. She jumped in place a few times and held up a Dunkin’ Donuts bag in one hand and fresh-smelling coffee in the other. I could see her long wavy hair sway behind her.

Like usual, she wore blue jeans, a t-shirt – today it was black with little purple flowers – and her big, tan messenger bag was slung to her back. But something was off. She looked shorter.

I looked down at her feet and instantly smiled. Instead of the normal heels, she was wearing absolutely nothing but two toe rings and had her jeans folded half-way up her calves.

“Well?” she asked, “You gonna let me in, Jake?” and before I could even open my mouth to respond, she was pushing past me and into the apartment.

I closed the door behind her and turned to see that she had already flopped onto the couch where I almost slept, not more than 20 seconds ago. The bag and cup were on the table beside her.

For quite a while, I just stood there and watched her flip through channels on my TV.

“So no shoes today?” I said walking over to her.

“Nope!” she beamed and added, “I have an audition tomorrow.”

“Oh yes! Your ‘foot feelings’.” I snickered as I air quoted ‘foot feelings’ and sat next to her.

“Hey! Don’t make fun. I’m aware of the oddness about it, but it really does work! Plus, I have to live up to my name, you know.”

She had this weird precognition thing with her feet. She says it helps her with her acting if she has time to relax and feel “free” in a way where she can feel the grass between her toes like she used to on her family’s farm back in Iowa or the cool pavement in the fall months that reminded her of snow. And with this feeling of being “free” she connects it to her name: Emmalynn Free.

I smiled and said, “Well, whatever works, I guess.”

For the rest of the day, we watched Christmas movies, even though it was no where near the holidays, and ate multiple bags of popcorn. It was only until we finished off a 4th bag that we noticed the Dunkin’ Donuts bag and coffee on the side table.

In the middle of A Year without Santa Claus Emma’s head fell to my shoulder. I looked over her to see the clock. It was only 9:18. She must have had a long shift at the diner, I though to myself. Emma worked morning shifts at a 50s-style dinner a couple blocks away as a waitress. She even had to wear roller skates. I laughed to myself. She was lucky she was graceful.

Without trying to wake her up, I reached around her to grab the blanket under her feet and pulled it over her body. It would be untrue to say she looked like an angel while she slept. Her make-up was smudged, her lips were chapped and her clothes were wrinkled in unappealing places.

Then I softly whispered, “But that’s what makes you all the more perfect for me.”

We stayed like that for almost half an hour, leaving me wishing for her to see how I felt. But I knew I would have to be the one to tell her. And I will, but at the right time. I’d been telling myself that since high school though. I’ve been starting to wonder if it really hasn’t been the right time yet, or if I’m just a coward.

She eventually woke up and decided she should get home and get some rest for her audition tomorrow. I agreed and said goodbye at the door. I locked the door behind her and went to lie on the couch again. That night I fell asleep covered in a blanket that smelled like her perfume, reminding myself that I would see her the next day.





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