Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

You have big shoes to fill. Whose are they and where will they take you? The only direction they will go is where the heart leads. Fill the shoes and this page with your story.



    In Arca, Beanie has had it. At first he declares Arca is his destination. Then he begs for a rest, finally addressing me. Randall and Jane continue. Lyn and I join Beanie in a short break, then Lyn sets off. I, too, am off in a second, leaving a chocolate offerings behind.
    “He only started in Leon. That’s why,” Lyn explains.
    For around an hour I had stared straight into a red trash plastic bag covering Beanie’s rucksack, so I can’t say that I am sorry.
    Some German bus pilgrims look at us and make room for us. I rush past them. Lyn follows. I am in this ultimate walking position again. We are way past half way. Another fifteen kilometers is ahead of us.
    Suddenly Beanie is here again. He has changed his mind because he wants to be with us. He immediately catches up the school conversation with Lyn, only this time they agree upon how a school should be run and how terrible children behave nowadays.
    Wasting children’s time is just so cruel. The principle of survival of the fittest in school classes is especially cruel. I know who benefits from unnecessary complication of teaching. Wasting anybody’s time is cruel. I let myself fall back.
    We are now down to ten kilometers from our goal. I’m exhausted. My feet hurt. My legs hurt.
    “Oh, my God,” Jane says every now and again.
    I smile. At least there are no blisters calling for attention.
    Now I entirely stick behind Randall, and it feels good. He doesn’t engage me in complicated conversations. He smiles as if saying, “We are doing fine, right?”
    We walk in a line now—Randall, me, Jane, and Susan. We don’t talk. We walk, several meters between us. I just follow Randall. No interruptions searching for yellow arrows. No peeking at my compass to orient myself. When Randall turns, I turn. When I turn, Jane turns, and I hope Susan does the same. Randall is followed by three middle-aged women who don’t say a word.
    There is some work to be done, and we are doing what’s needed. Walking. I feel so free. Suddenly nothing hurts, and I really walk.
    Randall is far ahead now, and he turns left.
    I speed up, catching him, and with a swing I turn off the forest road and hit a steep path going down. The Camino is often walked on gravel roads connected by paths, so I head on.
    Surprisingly, I almost bump into Randall, who has simply stopped walking.
    “Stop!” he shouts. “Go away.”
    Why can’t men just act normal? How I hate to walk up from here. Jane, too, is on her way down. Why didn’t he just tell me? Women always say ‘wait’ and then they search for a good place if they need to pee.

    1. Andrea! This is such a wonderful read - so real! I can truly see this place and the people. I hope you continue with this theme, because it seems as if you already have some terrific shorts for a whole collection. I love the way you define your island.

      Nevets, a fellow who wrote and prompted here a while back, took one of his shorts and developed it further into a rather ambitious project. He tweeted about it this AM (giving credit to FF) and I'm pleased that we could play a role in his work and his success.

      I expect something similar with you. ☼

    2. I just love this, Andrea. I was caught in the moment from start to finish.

    3. Misky, when I think of how wonderful poems you can write - how you convey emotion and life, well, then I am so honoured that I can give you something back.
      Thank you very much!

    4. I love this, Andrea!!! It makes me want to do this one day even more!! I enjoy your humorous ending!! Thank you for this! Warm smiles, my friend!!

  2. RJ, this is not from my island (Sejer Island) but it is from down in Spain where there is a 800 kilometer trail. I walked there in 2006. But you're right and I do understand why you might be a bit confused. Because my island attitude of life suits just great on the Camino.
    The Camino is the pilgrim road and I went on pilgrimage in 2006 and this piece is a piece from my around 70,000 unfinished words about it.
    And thank you so much!

  3. Oh, Andrea. This is so fun and so real, as RJ says. I'm sorry. I would have been walking with the gal who had blisters, only I would have limped a lot worse due to knees needing replacements.

    I loved the ending. I honestly didn't see it coming. It was terrific.

    I'm with RJ on opinion. This style is great and you could easily have a collection of shorts for publication, if you keep writing like this.

  4. About shoes:

    There is a shoe cupboard built into the wall in the bedroom closet of my 100 year old house.

    One of my friends came to visit and when she saw it she said, “Well, when you renovate, this will be the first thing to go…” She found it ugly. At the time, her comment stung my feelings because while the cupboard is...um...utilitarian, the inside walls are covered with shimmering white and gold vintage wallpaper — which I happen to love. It makes such a beautiful backdrop for my shoes.

    But much more importantly, this cupboard reminds me that even though something might be plain on the outside, there’s a very good chance it is beautiful on the inside. My shoe cupboard really is a geode of sorts, holding the glitter and sparkle of darling shoes and vintage wallpapers hidden until you crack it open.

    While I live in this little cottage, I’ll never update my shoe cupboard. It teaches me about time, timelessness, reverence, humility, and a respect for this cottage, the past, and the families who took care of this cottage for me.

    Such a meaningful little lesson.

  5. i have walked a long mile already and still willing to go for more. as I have said in my post today, I will always embrace the challenge of what lies ahead.


    ps. thanks for dropping by my blog today... :-)

  6. Flashy Fiction: Those Shoes

    The Middle Ages had their flagellants; Grandpa had his shoes. He claimed that he wore them when he headed west from St Louis and walked across the country in search of a town without a dentist. Grandpa was a dentist.

    His grand adventure, most of which we assumed was to entertain because everyone loves a good story, started when the dust bowl storms blew most of the population into adjoining states. Grandpa woke up one morning, and he was the only remaining inhabitant in Millsford; everyone had packed up and left. In all fairness, there were only about four families living in Millsford, they were all related, and they all left at the same time in the same Ford truck – twelve people sandwiched in between pillows, blankets, quilts, clothing, a sewing machine and petrol can filled with drinking water. Grandpa knew it was time to leave. He put on his Sunday best clothes, then buttoned up his Monday-Friday best clothes on top of his Sunday bests, and finally two pairs of socks and his only pair of shoes. He set off walking because he didn’t know how to drive.

    For two days he walked backwards toward the west coast of America. If he’d walked facing the direction he was headed, the wind and dust and sand would have polished his facial features as clean and smooth as a shiny penny, and so he walked backwards. Had he walked with the wind he’d have ended up in New York, and he loathed apples – green apples, red apples, small or big apples. Adam and Eve and all that. He was a very pious man.

    On day three, he found an abandoned horse near death from lack of water, so Grandpa shared a bit of his own water with the scrawny beast … and then the two of them set off, both walking backwards into the wind toward the west coast of America. They were a sight that’s for sure; at least they would’ve been had anyone remained to look at them.

    On day four, Grandpa bought a box of corn flakes. He gave the cereal to the horse, and cut new insoles for his shoes from the cardboard box. Walk on, he said to the horse.

    Days five through sixty we called Grandpa’s missing days because he couldn’t remember what happened. My sister and I always found that quite worrying because we didn’t know where Grandpa had been. Mother always went a bit mental when we picked up things that she howled were filthy because “you never where they’ve been”. For the most part I knew; they’d been on the road or the sidewalk.

    Anyway, Grandpa died when I was seven. I only know him through stories that I’ve heard or fabricated because everyone loves a good story.

    And of course it goes without saying that this story is fabricated for the purpose, well except that Grandpa really was a dentist.

    Misky's Flashy Fiction

  7. Misky, yeah, that's what the Australians call a serious walk-about. I like the opening, only people who walk so far are a kind of flagellants - you also say, he needed the cardboard for his boats - very good idea against blisters. I love the way you cherish your "Grandpa" and in a way most of all: I like that you put this kind of memories on print.

    1. Hi Andrea. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading it. I don't want to leave you with a false impression though. Most of what I wrote in this story is "fiction". My grandfather was a dentist though. :)

    2. This was a really fun read, like a tall tale or a fish story. I liked the opening as well, and there were lots of little details that set the scene so well, wearing the outfits one on top of the other, the sewing machine and petrol can of water in the car with the 12 people, and Grandpa's hatred of apples. Truly charming.

  8. Flash Fiction: Clearing the Closets

    Miranda slipped quietly out of the nursery, leaving the door cracked just a little so she could hear Eric if he stirred. Taking a deep breath, she braced herself to open the door next to his room. The bedroom closet was so small she had moved Jed’s civvies, and other personal items he couldn’t take with him, here to leave more room for her own things. Now she felt guilty about it. It felt like she had already been putting him out of her life. The hallway storage room had no place for hangers, so most of his stuff was stored in boxes.

    Deciding what to throw out and what to pass along to Goodwill was the next step in getting on with her life. Everyone said so and she understood the necessity, but she wasn’t sure she was ready for it. She made a deliberate effort to blank her mind and started to work. Carefully not thinking about the past or future, she concentrated solely on the moment.

    The first box was all dress clothes. Definitely send to the Goodwill.
    Second box: childhood memorabilia. Keep for Eric or ask Joe if he wanted it?
    Third box: Softball gloves, balls, catcher’s mask, team uniform. Keep for Eric? Give to Goodwill? Pass along to other team members?

    “Think, dammit. You can’t keep everything. There’s more sports stuff in the garage too. You can’t cart it all around with you for the rest of your life. It’ll be years before Eric is old enough to be interested. He may not even like baseball. Just pick a couple of items to save and move on.”

    She started digging through the box and setting things aside. Catcher’s mitt, signed ball from the year his team won the league championship, the cleats she bought him for his last birthday. It was too much. She sat with the shoes in her lap and sobbed helplessly for the husband she lost in a war that no one seemed to understand.

    1. This leaves an ache in my stomach. This sort of grief just tears away at a person.

  9. Louis shuffled up a cloud of dust like an old pickup truck. His mother would be angry when he got home, seeing his shoes and his trousers and his face smudged and dirty, but it was a pleasure too difficult to resist. The weather was dry and hot, and summer vacation was only scant weeks away, but for now he was stuck inside while they sweated out their multiplication tables and their grammar rules and writing their letters with just the right slant. But he was good at that. Mrs. Gardner said so.

    Soon, he’d feel the grass under his toes instead of having them caged in leather. The shoes were worn, one size too small, his toes pressed up against the tip. He showed his mother, but she said, “No need to buy a new pair now.” He’d only have to squeak through three months of Sundays before he’d get a new pair from the church rummage sale.

    He kicked a rock and watched it skitter across the road. It was a long walk from the highway to the house. He tried to count the steps once, but got bored after one hundred. He would imagine all the things he could grow up to be, someday, when he was taller, and stronger, and had time. He didn’t want to work the farm, although he probably would anyway. That’s what township kids did. This would be his last year of walking alone, with Jodi starting next year. He’d pester him for sure.

    He wondered who owned these shoes before him. It had to be one of the older boys, and probably one of the ones from in town. Township kids’ shoes were too beat up from walking and working to get passed along. What it must be like to have new shoes, real shoes, different ones for school and for church, to walk home for lunch and to and from instead of the long jostling bus ride.

    He jumped up on the fence, standing on the lower rail, looking out over the field where the horses ran. Golden reeds slanted through the grass, glowing orange where painted by the sun. He launched himself over, hoping the walk through the grass might clean him up, and traded a cloud of crickets for the dust he’d kicked up on the road just minutes before. The grass crunched like straw under his feet, and smelled sweet and clean, and he wondered if the boys in town knew what this was like, to set the crickets dancing to the music of the field.

    No, he wouldn’t want to walk those shoes after all