The Stilettos

Every day she passed by the brightly lit store. It was on her way to school. When the sun was lazily climbing higher in the sky and the neighborhood was yet to get out of its beds, when the birds were still chirping their morning songs, she would walk past it. Every morning as she walked past it, the shutters down and the display windows empty, she would hope that they would still be there that afternoon. And as she made her way back to her house at the end of the day, her limbs screaming with tiredness; they were still there, and that was enough to cheer her up. That one pair of shoes that she had fallen in love with.


They were something out of a story book. Every day she would walk by them, admiring them through the glass display, a pair of shoes so beautiful that no other could rival them. They belonged on the feet of a princess or a fairy, she’d think with giddy happiness as they shone brightly where the rays of the midday sun would hit them. The walk back from school to her house was short, but under the summer sun, that short walk would tire her to her bones. But as soon as she would see those shoes, all her exhaustion was magically wiped away.


Glittery, red stilettos, they were. Five inch spiked heels. There was a little hole in the front part of the shoe, from where the toes would peep out. Peeptoes, they were called, she found out later. They were just perfect. The red wasn’t a garish red, it was a soft color that was easy on the eyes. It was a color she fell in love with. She had eyes for nothing but this pair, in the center of the display window; sitting there, waiting to be rescued by her.


So, she led her mother to the store one day, showing her the beautiful pair. This is what I want for my birthday Ma, she said. Her mother looked at her with a saddened smile. Her mother did not have the heart to refuse the large, expectant eyes that looked like all the happiness in the world was dependent on those shoes. She smiled and fulfilled her child’s wish.


Later that day, she played with the glittery heels. She didn’t have to look at them through a display window anymore. She could now hold them in her hands instead, but she still wished that she could wear them. As she looked at her leg, twisted with the remnants of the disease called polio, a tear escaped her eye. She could only own the stilettoes. She could never wear them.


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