It's the Feet That Bleed This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , San Ramon, CA
We run an endless road. One foot in front of the other. Pounding, pounding away at the dirt, our head aching, the dust warm and dry in our throat, the skin on your hands tingling, our shins splintering from the relentless rhythm that we hammer out beneath our feet in the hope that one day, it’ll make a melody. We can never stop running.

Our feet are what carry us through these steps. Up the hills, down winding roads, through the brooks and burning desert sands. It may be our legs that force ourselves forwards, but in the end, it’s the feet that hit the ground, the feet that feel the impact, the feet that bind us to the earth as long as we run. The legs may cramp and strain and flame, but it is the feet that blister, break, burn, bleed. It is the feet that are our soul when our head is in the clouds.

If we were forced to run barefoot, the road would be longer. Harder. The suffering that lies waiting for us would greet us with a gleeful grin, a maniacal laugh, a hot iron for pain and a scythe for the end. But it is instead kept at bay, an uneven shimmer wavering on the horizon, lurking at the end of our view. We know we will arrive there one day, but to prolong the wait, we protect our feet. We protect them with shoes like we guard our heart with flesh and lies.

I used to take simple things for granted. Like shoes. They were always just necessities that I had to take time to tie in the morning. They were dirty and smelly and costed money. My shoes were always wearing out at the wrong moments—and then when you needed a new pair, the replacements never felt quite right. Through all of the bad, I never really understood that they, shoes, the simple accessories of your feet, were more than what they seemed.

Sure, they were dirty and smelly—worn from hardship. Worn down from all of the splinters and kicked rocks that would’ve otherwise been cuts and stubbed toes. Discomfort from new shoes was only in comparison of your old ones—the ones that had borne you so well, that you had walked in until they were not only yours, they were part of you. They were melded to your flesh, nothing but an extra layer of skin that, like a band-aid, is excruciating to rip apart for the way it sticks to your hair, to the little things that hurt most.

It was this past year, during a soccer game, that I took a hard turn to kick the ball and ended up rupturing my cleat down the seam. I went off onto the sidelines and examined it with the vague hope that it could be duct-taped back together—but realized that with a hole big enough to watch the game through, there was no bringing it back to life. That crushing finality, the blatant fact that I would never use that pair of cleats again, raised a surprisingly large lump in my throat.

From that point, I’ve noticed that I do care about my shoes. Casual shoes, blue and green, striped memories painted on the surface. Old cross country shoes, red and brown from track and dirt, with the lingering of exhaustion engrained in its soles a friend’s face peering from black-and-white photographs. Fuzzy boots for those warm apple cider days, flip-flops from summer walks through the sprinklers and breeze, and hiking books still dusty from the trail.

I’ll never forget them. Not after I’ve known their suffering. Walked the same path. Hiked the same trail. Ran the same road.

We’re still running.





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JoPepper said...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 9:50 am
Wow that was very descriptive!!!! Keep writing!!! :D
 
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