I like some of the quirky sights in my neighbourhood. You’ve probably seen shoes up on the wires too. I’ve seen sneakers, even workboots, but I’ve never seen any high heels before.
I often wonder about the stories behind the shoes being thrown up there. Surely it’s not just a prank every time?
So I wrote a little story about these high heel shoes on the wires….
The sky was delicate blue when Rock told her it was over. Cass remembered noticing the contrast between the colour of the sky and the colour in her head, which was grey. She was surprised that the colour in her head wasn’t black. Wasn’t she supposed to be overwhelmed by grief and misery at the point when her boyfriend told her he was leaving her? Grey wasn’t really the background colour for such emotions.
It was like she was dressing the whole thing down so it would fade away more quickly. Or it was dressing down itself.
Rock had been trouble from the start. Not just because of his name. Rock is a name that invites a lot of commentary. The number of people who asked Rock if his parents were fans of American soap operas in the year Cass had known him was incredible. He had no sense of humour about it, usually marching off in a huff if people made jokes. Cass had had a theory for a long time that some people became their names. Like Misty and Heather and Joy. She had known a girl once named Allegra. Such a pretty name. Such a pretty girl. Pretty and lively.
Rock was definitely like his name. As in as hard as… Inflexible. Immovable. Not solid as. Just hard as.
From the first time they went out for dinner and Cass wore her dependable Mary Janes – the olive green ones with the mother of pearl buttons – Rock went on and on about her shoes.
Dumpy and frumpy, he said.
Those shoes make you look dumpy and frumpy.
I’m 28 years old, Cass felt like shouting. I’m 5 foot 8 with an hourglass figure. How can I be dumpy and frumpy?
You have fat ankles, Rock said. You need to wear heels for a streamlined look. Dumpy and frumpy doesn’t work for me.
Rock bought Cass 47 pairs of shoes. One day Cass counted them. They were stacked in their boxes in the corner of her bedroom where she had wanted to put the leadlight lamp she had seen in the antique store. Box after box after box of shoes she didn’t want to wear. There was no doubt they were nicely made and some of the brands would make a woman with a thing for shoes swoon.
You have Manolo Blahniks and Christian Louboutins?
This guy must really adore you.
My boyfriend would never spend that kind of money on me.
Cass didn’t buy the adoration theme for a moment.
Rock had a thing about streamlined ankles.
One night he took her out to the new restaurant by the water.
It was minimalist to the extreme.
Tiny portions of food in the centre of huge white plates.
Food designed for amoebas rather than people.
It certainly lived up to its name, by the time Cass went home she felt like all she had eaten was air.
She certainly wasn’t walking on air.
9 inch heels.
It was like walking on stilts. She was ungainly, drunk on the altitude. Fearful of taking one step forward in case she plummeted to the pavement below. She wondered what Rock would think if she tumbled. Falling like one of those vaudeville clowns slipping on a banana peel with her 9 inch heels in the air. Nothing streamlined about that.
After two months Cass missed her ballet flats. After four months her lip began to tremble whenever she saw someone wearing Doc Martens. After eight months she was so distraught she slept with her Mary Janes beside her in the bed like an odd kind of teddy bear.
Six inch heels. Nine inch heels. She hated them all. After a year she would walk barefoot on rubble every single day rather than wear those heels. Some feet just weren’t meant to rise above their station.
The night it happened it was one of those late summer evenings where the sun is still high in the sky at 8PM. It is as if the day is never going to end. The night shadows danced on the ground but were held down by the light.
Rock had taken her to another place with one name.
They were supposed to be going dancing.
Cass liked to dance as much as the next person but not in the new shoes Rock had just bought for her. Jimmy Choo crystal embellished leather and mesh sandals. Silver. They cost over a thousand dollars. Cass had checked online and nearly passed out. 10 inch heels. One hundred dollars an inch. Thin, vicious little straps like garottes, cutting off her circulation.
She felt like an elderly lady who had forgotten to wear her support hose. Staggering. Teetering. Reeling.
Cass was not feeling the vibe in VIBE.
After the first song her legs were burning. After the second song she could no longer feel the littlest of her toes. By the end of the fourth song she thought they’d have to carry her out of VIBE on a stretcher.
She looked over at Rock dancing like a behemoth in his Paul Smith slimfit pinstripe shirt with matching trilby and began to feel sick.
Then the DJ put on an early Alicia Keys song – A Woman’s Worth – baby, you know you’re worth it – and she felt angry.
She took a step towards Rock, wanting to knock that stupid trilby off his head and slid, falling, skidding halfway across the dancefloor.
It was a long way down but it was a relief to fall. It was the end of a bad dream. It was like finding the quilt from your bed bunched all the way down at the foot when you are freezing cold in the middle of the night and pulling it back up and snuggling. Just snuggling.
You will lose if you choose to refuse to put her first
Those high heeled streamlined shoes are just the worst.
They stood outside VIBE with the delicate blue sky above them as the summer night struggled to break through. Rock’s trilby was askew, hanging off his head like a child’s party hat that has had the elastic overstretched. Cass was in her barefeet, holding the thousand dollar sandals like the spoils of war.
If people didn’t believe it was possible to break up under a delicate blue sky where the evening shines sparsely then Cass would gladly tell them that it was. And that it was the best way for it to happen because that kind of sky and that kind of light brought you to your senses and you knew, suddenly you knew, that men who were just like their names who went on and on about streamlining ankles weren’t worth it, really weren’t worth it.
And as Rock went on and on and on about the humiliation he felt when she fell to her salvation Cass couldn’t stop looking at the sky and the everlasting blue of it keeping night at bay. And she saw the wires thick and black, inscribing the sky, underlining the blue and she couldn’t help herself. She tied the straps of her sandals together.
The sandals ascended like leaves caught in a whirlwind. Up and up they flew, higher than Cass could have believed they would go.
They caught on the wires, their enmeshed crystals pale blue in the remaining light whirling for a moment as fast as a weather vane, but staying, firmly and definitively staying put.
What did you do that for? Rock was spluttering. Those shoes cost me a fortune.
Cass said nothing. She felt like her heart should be stripped bare but the sandals on the wire made her elated, rocking in the evening wind.
She walked down the street, the soles of her feet rejoicing on the cooling ground.
No heels but her own.
Walking and dancing.
Dancing and walking.
Unable to shed a single tear.