A Lonely Little Shoe
(ASL 8 May 97)
Main Character: A lonely little shoe.
Location: Somewhere off in fah-la-la--la-la-land.
Details: A bright, warm, sunny day. Big, puffy, white, dream-clouds, against a blue, blue, sky.
The little shoe was walking by herself, feeling sad and lonely. She didn't know where she was going and really didn't care, so lost in thought was she. She followed the winding path, forking left and right arbitrarily until she was far away from where she had started out from. As she traveled, her mind went over the events of the last few weeks....
The day had started just like any other day in her life. She woke up bright and early so she could watch the sun rise, spilling its wonderful, warm, golden rays all about. She would sit on the porch and marvel at its beauty, always wishing that she could capture that moment and live it forever. Sighing softly, she reminded herself that like all life's treasures, the reality was precious, but the memory even more so.
Going back inside her house, the little shoe busied herself with making breakfast (waffles and syrup!) and getting ready for the new day. She freshened up and made her lunch, humming to herself and enjoying the simple, routine tasks. Then she went to get her backpack, checking to make sure that all the homework she'd done the night before was inside, and left for school.
The little shoe liked school. All the teachers were nice, and they taught her wonderful things, like math and science, but also history and literature. She loved learning all the different subjects and found them all interesting, even though many of her class-mates hated them. Secretly, the little shoe dreamed of being a writer and being able to tell stories that would entrance her readers. She wanted to be able to make her listeners feel the magic she felt in each new day, to truly experience the wonder that surrounded them. Being very shy, however, the little shoe never spoke of this, not to anyone.
Sadly, the little shoe had very few friends. Her shyness kept her from approaching any of her class-mates, so even though she was courteous and friendly with them, she never quite bonded in the way that best friends, or a group of friends would bond. She would gather up her courage to talk to someone, then, when she was face to face with them, it all melted away, and she was left tongue-tied, her eyes down.
Sometimes, when invited, the little shoe would join small groups and listen in to on their chats, but she never felt completely at ease. She couldn't quite explain it, but there was always something innately different between them and her, a matter of perception. It made her feel lonely, even when she was surrounded by the others. Still, they were the closest to whom the little shoe could call 'friends'.
As the talks progressed, the discussion would often drift onto the topic of whom-was-dating-whom, and many giggles were shared. Sometimes, though, some of the others would make comments on the little shoe's lack of a "special friend". The little shoe blushed and laughed it off, saying she didn't want a relationship. In truth, no one seemed to appeal to her in that "special" way. Still, some of the comments stung, and when everyone else seemed to be going off in pairs, the little shoe would watch them, with just the slightest hint of envy. It made her very lonely.
In general, the little shoe managed to blend in with her classmates. But she was never part of the "In" crowd, and often, although she tried to avoid them, she was a target of the school's meanies, who picked on anyone smaller than themselves. Usually, they traveled in gangs, deriving strength from their numbers. A few of them, the leaders, were truly cruel and malicious, driving the others on their mean deeds.
The mean ones made fun of the little shoe and played awful tricks on her. The worst time was when they cornered her and tried to paint her all different colours, none that suited her own little self. They dipped their paintbrushes into their jars of paint and jabbed out at her, crisscrossing her shaking body with streaks of colour. They didn't stop until she was covered in colours, and she couldn't even recognize herself. Then they laughed and laughed until she ran crying from their circle of contempt. Some of her 'friends' even smiled. And she felt more alone than ever.
The little shoe ran, out to the forest and away, but no matter how hard she ran, she couldn't get away from the cruel laughter that echoed in her head. Finally, tired and out of breath, she fell sobbing by the river. 'Why did they always pick on her', she thought, 'Why couldn't they leave her alone?' Shaking, the little shoe buried her head on her knees and cried.
Many long minutes passed before the little shoe quieted, and she looked up again. But when she looked at herself, she wanted to weep again: she was covered in mud and blotches of drying paint. Even her laces, which she took such pride in keeping a pristine white, were splotched with the dirty residue of the muddy riverbank.
With trembling fingers, she pried off the clumps of dried muck and foul smelling paint. When the worst of it was off, she took some water from the river and tried to wash off the rest. Much of it stuck to her, and she couldn't clean it, no matter how hard she scrubbed. Still, she scrubbed and scrubbed until it hurt, unaware of the soft tears that had begun to leak from her eyes again.
It was a long time before the little shoe left the forest and slowly walked back to her home.
Several weeks later, the little shoe was getting all set to enjoy the coming long weekend, the first time in months that the weather promised to be nice and sunny, and no school for three days! Eagerly, the little shoe completed her assignments and finished up her book reports so that she could just relax and enjoy the time off.
As the last hours of the school day wound down, the little shoe grew more and more excited---three days off! Finally the bell rang, and classes were over, and everyone dismissed for the long weekend. The little shoe happily packed up her stuff along with everyone else, and ran out the door. Free!!
She was just leaving the school grounds when the bunch of meanies that had tormented her caught up to her and surrounded her. They began to taunt her, calling her names and laughing at her. Determined to ignore them, the little shoe kept walking. Her indifference seemed to provoke them, though, and they started to say really awful things, becoming more and more cruel.
Trying to hold in the tears, the little shoe kept walking. Finally, when the jeers began to ring in her ears, and the awful things they were saying began to penetrate her protective shell, she couldn't hold back any longer and small tears started to escape her eyes, first one by one, then in a steady stream. The tears obscured her vision, and she stumbled on the suddenly uneven ground. Sensing their imminent victory, the meanies poured on their words of contempt until the little shoe could bear no more. Unable to stop herself, she burst out crying. The meanies laughed, continuing to walk beside her a few more steps, before finally leaving, their goal of disrupting her day achieved. The little shoe cried for a small time, standing under the protection of an old oak tree. She didn't feel happy anymore.
The moon was just rising on the horizon before the little shoe began her trek home again. Her head was down, and she was glum. The excitement she had felt only hours before had dissipated like morning dew before a new day.
It was a subdued little shoe that arrive home. She slowly put away her things, and not feeling well, went to an early bed.
The next morning, the little shoe felt a better having rested somewhat, but the event's of the day before still played on her mind. Her eyes felt swollen, and her pillow had been damp when she woke...she had been crying in her sleep.
At first, the little shoe felt lost, unsure of what she wanted to do. Finally, she decided that she'd carry forth her plans for the weekend: a nice walk in the forest, camping out overnight, and wishing upon the stars. She wouldn't let the meanies spoil her plans!
Despite her resolve, the little shoe still felt unhappy as she gathered her things. [Food for her trek, prepared earlier in the week, a small lightweight sleeping bag, a favourite book (in case she wanted to rest in a nice spot and read in the sun), the bare essentials necessary for an outside excursion]. Before long, she was all packed. She made one last trip to her bedroom to give her teddy bear (a cute fella!), a quick kiss and a warm hug. Then she left the house and set off towards the forest.
The forest path was a familiar one to the little shoe, having traveled it many a time. There was little new to distract her, and she found herself, against her will, replaying the last few week's events over and over in her mind. The cruelty of the meanies, her lack of friends, her lonliness, all blended into one, and she trudged along the path, lost in sad thoughts, paying no heed to where she was going.
Gradually, a muted rumble that increased in intensity as she walked, penetrated her heavy thinking, and she stopped to look around her. She was quite surprised to find herself further into the forest than she had ever gone before. The path she was following was wider, here, too, strangely. The little shoe followed the path curiously, as that was the direction in which the sound was coming from. As she rounded a bend it widened further and she found herself, to her great surprise, at the entrance of a small town!
The little shoe gazed about in disbelief. She didn't understand why there would be a town in the middle of the forest. It was so far from everything else, isolated from the rest of the world, what could it be doing here?
Hesitant, but curious, the little shoe entered into the town. Looking around, all the shops appeared empty, deserted, yet she could hear the buzzing of nearby of voices. The little shoe wandered about the town idly, peering into darkened windows, marveling at the local saloon (wow!), seeing what appeared to be a sushi bar (she'd heard of such things, but had never actually seen one before). It seemed like a cozy, little place, but strangely empty. And she couldn't determine where the noise was coming from.
Suddenly, just as she reached the centre of the town, she was bombarded by piercing, eardrum-bursting sound!! From out of nowhere, all types of spammites suddenly surrounded her, swooping around and heckling her. 'All you can handle, only $2.99/min,' they shouted, 'Watch the Big Nasty LIVE!', 'xxx!' !!!!
The spammites swirled about the little shoe, round and round, until her head swam from trying to follow their motions, and she became dizzy. She tried to back away from them, politely, but they followed her wherever she went and ignored her protestations that she wasn't interested in hearing their (deleted)!
They continued their onslaught. Some of them were particularly loud and rude, reminding the little shoe of the meanies from her school. Others promised she would go straight to Hull, if she didn't convert to velcro and walk like an Egyptian. Unable to defend herself from the relentless barrage, the little shoe fled into the woods.
(Author's Note: Spammites are terrible pests that heckle anyone and anything within their vicinity. They have no morals, only an abysmal lack of taste. Often appearing from out of nowhere, they can infest and overrun a region in mere days. Infestation is of indefinite duration, lasting from days to months, as spammites spawn hourly, and are extremely resistant to attempts to destroy them. Through hard work and diligence, however, spambusters can significantly reduce spammite numbers. Legendary Spambuster Xtraordinaire SHC is noted for achieving great success in exterminating various breeds of spammites by attacking spammite hosts. (For free spambusting tips, contact SHC Inc.) Once spammite action removal is commenced, constant vigilance is required to halt their growth and stem their spread.)
The little shoe ran until she couldn't hear the spammites, which wasn't too far, as they seemed to be staying within the confines of the town. Still, she'd heard horrible tales of spammites, and didn't stop until she was sure they wouldn't follow her.
Finally, tired from running, the little shoe sat down to rest beneath a nice, shady tree. It was later than she had realized, and the running had made her hungry. She dug into her backpack and got out her lunch, full of nutritious goodies. Munching happily, the little shoe felt herself gradually relax.
There was something peaceful about the forest around her, something that soothed her spirit after the spammite swarm. Even the memories of torment by the school meanies faded into the background. Slowly, the tension eased from the little shoe's body, and she was lulled into a sense of security. For a time, the little shoe sat there, enjoying the quiet calm and delighting in the good weather.
Just as she was beginning to truly feel at peace, she heard the sound of voices coming her way. At first the little shoe was worried, thinking it was the spammites again. But as the voices came nearer, she could tell they were softer, gentler and filled with a light mirth. Puzzled and still a little scared, the little shoe crouched into the shadow of the tree and waited.
It wasn't long before she was greeted by the sight of...shoes!! Shoes carrying picnic baskets and blankets, shoes singing happily and dancing, shoes talking and laughing gaily! They were all different sizes, and all different colours, and they exuded a sense of confidence and joy that the little shoe could only marvel at. (wow!)
The strange progression made their way closer, and then past the little shoe, who shrank even further into the shadows, fearing discovery. They passed so close to her that she could smell the wonderful scent of fresh bread from baskets they carried, and this attracted her undivided attention. Unable to resist her curiousity about them, the little shoe allowed the group a good lead, then gathered up her courage and followed them discreetly. She saw them turn off onto a shallow pathway that she hadn't noticed before. It wasn't far from where she had been resting, and the little shoe wondered how she'd missed it earlier.
The group rounded a bend and disappeared out of sight. Hurrying, the little shoe caught up, fearing she'd lose them, and almost stumbled right into their gathering. Somehow, she managed to catch herself just at the edge, and quickly hid herself in the shelter of a clump of dense bush, where she watched avidly.
The group of shoes were unpacking their gear in the clearing, spreading out the blankets and opening up the picnic baskets. Obviously, they had planned a late afternoon picnic, perhaps thinking as the little shoe had, that the wonderful weather was best enjoyed outdoors. The shoes bustled about happily, enjoying their activities. Most set up in the centre of the grove, although a couple took their blankets to the side, at the base of a semi-private, wide-trunked, tall tree.
Once settled, the shoes gathered around, talking and laughing, exchanging gossip, and just having fun. It was all very silly. (The little shoe watched with wide-open eyes, laughing silently with them at the funny jokes). One of the younger shoes was proudly showing off her new purple laces (neat!) to the others, who ooohed and ahhhed in delight, (the little shoe looked on enviously---purple! Why hadn't she ever thought of that?).
After catching up with everything and everyone, the shoes began to separate into smaller groups, still chatting and playing happily. Some of the younger shoes started a game of tag, occasionally drawing some of the older ones into their fun 'n games, while others watched with a bemused smile.
All the shoes were enjoying a good time, and the little shoe watched them with longing in her heart. She felt a brief pang of guilt at her spying, but that was outweighed by her wonder at the delightful shoes, and it passed quickly. She was far too engrossed to even think of leaving her hiding place and approaching them, and so contined her rapt attention.
For some time, the little shoe watched and listened avidly. Things settled down a bit after the first early, frentic activity, and itwas in fact, a great deal calmer. There were random bursts of laughterthat peeled throughout the grove, and the buzz of soft voices talkingtogether, even some singing, but the grove had quieted somewhat. Idly,the little shoe swung her gaze about the grove, taking in the sights ofshoes engaged in lively debates, others basking in the sunlight, two shoescuddling off to the side....two shoes cuddling off to the side???!!
The little shoe flushed, and she could feel her face burning. Thetwo shoes who had set up their gear off to the side were cuddled togetherclosely, each caressing the laces of the other. As the little shoewatched, the two shoes leaned together and shared a long, slow, passionatekiss. Quickly, the little shoe averted her eyes, glancing all around theclearing, and _anywhere_ but at that pair! But she was surprised to find that none of the other shoes found the pair's activities disturbing. Truth, the other shoes merely continued on their own activities...those that noticed the two shoes locked in their passionate embrace paid no heed to it, although a few did smile and nudge one another, grinning.
Unable to stop herself, the little shoe's eyes were drawn back to the pair of cuddling shoes. She watched, fascinated, blushing and casting her eyes down often. The shoes were caressing each other lovingly, giving each other quick, soft
As the display of affection became a tad too personal for the little shoe, however, she flushed a deep red, and resolutely focused her attention on the shoes before her.
Try, as she might, though, the little shoe couldn't stop thinking of the two cuddling shoes. She'd never seen such activity before, and it was strange to her. Yet, despite that, she had felt an unexplainable, odd affinity for it. A sense of belonging that she'd never felt before arose within herself, and she couldn't explain it nor where it had come from, neither. Pondering these new, unsettling emotions, the little shoe continued watching the group of shoes, although most of her attention was on deciphering her new feelings.
The afternoon passed quickly after that.
A few of the shoes had become befuddled from too much wine. With tipsy glee, they left for home, with sober shoes to chaperone them and make sure they got back safely. Soon it was early evening, the sun just beginning to set and already casting a rosy glow across the sky. There were fewer shoes in the clearing, some having departed earlier. Some drifted away one by one, others in pairs, but all called out happy good-byes, exchanging cheerful see-you-agains, sharing a few close hugs, and even a few kisses! (Even the pair of shoes off to the side by themselves had left. They had been so caught up in one another, their laces so tangled together, that they had had to stumble away, leaning on each other for support. These two in particular were the subject of playful teasing by the others, but they just blushed, waved, and continued their half-walk, half-stumble out of the grove.)
The little shoe watched this with eyes reflecting newfound wisdom. Observing closely, she could see several pairs of shoes that strolled together and moved in an easy unison. At first glance, they may have appeared mismatched and quite unalike, but with further study she could see that they were a pair, and belonged together. The ease and comfort they felt with each other could not be faked, and was entirely different from the single shoes. It was a special, unique bond, separate from the overall closeness held by all the group for each other, but just as wonderful.
Finally, only a handful of shoes were left. They began to tidy up, folding blankets, packing away half-empty bottles of wine, (and soda pop brought for the young shoes who were underage and not allowed to indulge), making sure there were no left over traces of their excursion. Soon, all was as it had been. Looking around one last time, the remaining shoes left, talking softly to one another as they went.
As these last shoes passed the little shoe in her hiding place, she held herself still, not even daring to breathe. She waited until they were gone, and then a bit longer, but it was obvious they weren't coming back. Once again, she was alone.
Slowly, the little shoe crept out of her hideaway. She was a bit stiff from not moving about the last few hours, but as she stretched, she felt her muscles loosen and she felt much better. Tentatively, she entered the clearing, moving from spot to spot, bending to touch the grass here, reaching to caress a tree branch there, lightly tracing over everywhere the group of shoes had been. In a patch of tall grass, she discovered a half-hidden box of Graham crackers, left behind even after the careful clean-up of the grove. It was nearly full, and the little shoe happily munched on the crackers, enjoying their full flavour.
The little shoe felt...such a mix of emotions...she couldn't describe them all, or even begin to put them to words. It was strange, and exciting, and exhilerating, and scary, and above all, happy. Her mind kept playing over images of the last few hours, that strange group of happy shoes, their playfulness, and the fun they had. And the strange affinity that she had for them.
With these thoughts in mind, she looked about the clearing and slowly realized...it was the __perfect__ place to set up her sleeping bag! Feeling a bit daring, and thinking that she _had_ originally planned to spend the night lying under the open sky, the little shoe began to unpack her gear. As she busied herself setting up her little camp, the stars winked into existence one by one. Finishing up, the little shoe crawled into her sleeping bag and lay under the beautiful, night sky.
The little shoe gazed at the heavens, marvelling as the stars continued to twinkle into existence...they were so pretty! Watching them, she couldn't help but think that this day which had started so woefully for her, was in fact one of the best in her life. She thought of the strange group of shoes that she had observed all afternoon, and knew suddenly and without question, what she would wish for this night....
The little shoe wished, (wistfully), 'Maybe one day, I can join those other shoes, maybe they'll let me play with them,....they won't laugh at me, or call me names...maybe they'll let me have fun with them, and talk with them, and joke with them...! One day....if I find the courage....I can say 'hello', introduce myself, and maybe they'll let me join...?' The little shoe *so* wanted to be a part of that group, laughing and dancing (right out in the open!), sharing playful banter...maybe some day...if she wished hard enough...? Maybe.....??
Permission granted to any insane, creative shoes who would like to continue the Little Shoe's saga.
(in wistful shoes hoping that _someone_ will enjoy this story)
(Skurrying into a dark corner awaiting reactions.)
(ASL Spring 97)
Just as the little shoe was snuggling down into her sleeping bag she heard someone moving through the forest towards her. She froze, wondering who would be out there so late.
Scared, she heard the steps getting closer, and could see a light from a lantern bobbing up and down with each step. When the other shoe stepped into the clearing she let out a gasp of astonishment at the sight of little shoe staring at her from her sleepingbag!
"Who are you? We haven't met, have we? I thought i knew most of the shoes around here..."
Little shoe introduced herself politely and the other shoe, very taken by her manner, sat down beside her. She had come back to the clearing to find a very special lace she believed she had lost there earlier and was feeling quite distracted. She told little shoe what had happened and was delighted when little shoe offered to help find it!
What fun they had... soon the search for the special lace and had turned into a game of hide and seek in the clearing, made magical by the light glowing from the shoe's lantern. Soon, however, they both tired of the game and just as they were sitting down and catching their breath they saw the special lace peeping from underneath little shoe's sleeping bag!
The shoe begged little shoe to come back to her place where the shoe community were gathering for a party. She really wanted to introduce her new friend to all the others, certain they would think she was just as delightful as she did herself. Agreeing, hesitantly, little shoe walked back along the path with the other shoe, the lantern lighting their way.
enid blyton feet :)