I found a shoe in the bay today, floating with the tide, undulating gently. It was a fancy shoe only someone really glamorous would wear with its high heel and pink frilly gauzy bits. At first I thought it was a fish, a rainbow trout too close to land or a leatherjacket.
I saw fishermen laughing by the breakwater, wanted to run to them and shout : ‘It’s a little beauty!’ but then I realised it was a shoe, toppled on its side, lost at sea.
I looked around for marks in the grass, for signs of a scuffle or for evidence of a possible passionate encounter in the nearby spinifex but there were no clues. The shoe didn’t give off an air of trouble in any case, it was jaunty as a birthday present, bobbing with the gulls and water tern.
A woman caught me looking, her eyes were glinting. ‘When I was a girl we believed there were mermaids in these waters. They came onto land when the moon was full and wore shoes the colour of the summer flowers.’ She winked and walked off.
Come on, I thought. You can’t expect me to believe that.
A little boy crouched on the water’s edge, pointing. ‘Look, Mummy,’ he cried. ‘A fairy has lost her shoe.’ His mother smiled at me, shrugging her shoulders, but the boy and I exchanged looks and a single nod.
A wind blew across the water, raking it into deep blue strips. The gulls and tern flew off. The shoe drifted, spun, then sank below the water. ‘I think the fairy just got her shoe back,’ I said. The little boy smiled, satisfied that someone else besides he understood and began to skip along the foreshore, contented.