Shoes. That’s right, today’s prompt is shoes. I love shoes. I used to sell them years ago, working for a handsome Frenchman selling high priced Italian shoes at a Vancouver store. There were several young women working there, all of us expected to project a high fashion image on a shoestring budget, the shoes we wore to work often worth a week’s wages.
The shoe shop was something of a mad place to work. Because of the fabulous nature of the shoes, it became a bit of a scene, models and local rock stars dropping in, movie and television actors making the occasional appearance. On one occasion, a man with a baby boa constrictor came into the store to hang out, the snake wrapped around his forearm. We all got to stroke her, her flickering tongue tasting the air as we ran fingers along her smooth warm scales. Another time a woman left us some chocolates and we eagerly dug in, gobbling coffee beans coated in white, milk and dark chocolate, crunchy and delicious. When the caffeine kicked in it was with such ferocity we wondered whether they’d been spiked, running around the store in a panic shrieking until it wore off. And yet another time, bored, we were dancing, until the phone rang. It was the boys in the Timberland shop across the road, calling to compliment us on our moves.
If it wasn’t for shoes I wouldn’t have met my husband. I and one of my fellow shoe co-workers, an Australian girl, became great friends, bonding over Luxy’s pasta, cheap wine and Ab Fab on a Monday night after work, dancing in clubs and shopping together. Then she decided to head up to Whistler for a season, working at the resort. We stayed in touch and, one weekend, she invited me up for a visit. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘you should meet my new roommate. He’d be perfect for you.’ Turns out he was.
Shoes are also a big part of my latest release, A Thousand Rooms. The red shoes on the cover play a symbolic role throughout the book, with one reviewer commenting ‘they connect the story right the way through and come to feel like a character themselves.‘ As for the image, I bought the shoes on Ebay and took the photo myself – sadly, they’re a size four, so far too small for me. Still, they’re pretty to look at.
I’ll finish this post on shoes with a little piece of flash fiction I wrote a few months ago in response to one of Esther Newton’s writing challenges . If you haven’t been to Esther’s site, head over – she runs lots of fun challenges and competitions, as well as sharing writing markets and opportunities. (She also edited A Thousand Rooms for me – thanks, Esther!) The challenge in this instance was to write a 150 word story featuring the phrase ‘It was a matter of life and death.’ Of course I thought of shoes. Of course.
It was a matter of life or death.
Well, socially, at least. The shoes glittered as they turned on the little pedestal, faceted stones catching the light, smooth leather straps gleaming.
They were gorgeous. And far too expensive. But she could think of so many places to wear them, now that she was moving with a new crowd. And she really needed to keep up.
She bit her lip. So she’d have to eat baked beans for a month. She’d probably lose weight anyway, always a bonus. Binky had grabbed her round the hips the other day, squeezing and shrieking with laughter. ‘Oh darling, are you sure you want another profiterole?’ She had joined in with the laughter, blushing as chocolate oozed soft on her fingers, wishing she could throw it into their smirking faces.
Decision made, she picked up the shoes.
‘Do you have these in a size six?’