The child’s rubbery raggedy black trainer that lies in the middle of the country road and we all drive around to avoid. Why do we do that? Swerving out of the way like the imprint of the tiny body it belonged to is still attached. I want to stop and pick it up and put it in the car. Find its match. Cradle it.
Or the brown battered boot left on the motorway, beached in an almost step out of the way move – did they describe the owner on the news that I don’t listen to, now that I have children of a certain age, who soak up information, and ask the uncomfortable questions,
“Why did they jump?”
“Where are their parents?”
“Is that boy dead on the beach?”
Then there’s a slipper in town, that reminds me of someone who got chased, lost in mid-scarper. Or maybe it was just popped-out-to-get-milk-hung-over and there’s the ex with the new girlfriend looking like a magazine cover, love island contoured and everything. Just my luck.
The black high heel, patent, sitting fragile perfect. Crows strut around it studying their shimmering reflection as they circle in and out in a vindictive dance. What would you say to the one that got away? Why do you never come back for your shoes? Are you all Cinderella’s, glass slippers left behind in the rush back. Did the dappled gravel road knock you off balance as you ran away?
In New Orleans I once saw a perfect pair of Mary Jane’s set against a lamp post, waiting to be reclaimed, while water still sat in the levies. Discarded sofas floated away between buildings, above people huddled inside hiding, unable to forget the wrath of the waves. I hope you swam away like a mermaid. I hope you smiled despite the debris settled soft on your city. You placed your shoes at a street altar. I hope when I return they are gone, and your shoeless feet still dance on the sidewalk, prayers answered, hearts raised and all that was lost recovered.
OLIVIA FITZSIMONS lives in County Wicklow, Ireland. Her flash fiction has appeared/forthcoming in the Honest Ulsterman, Crannog, Boyne Berries, Cabinet of Heed, Solidalgo, Cease Cows, FlashBack Fiction and Deracine. Shortlisted for the Sunday Business Post/ Penguin Short Story Prize 2017. Long listed for the Fish Short Story Prize 2018. Shortlisted for the Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize in 2017. She was selected as a mentee for the WORDS Ireland/Wicklow Co Co National Mentoring Programme 2018. @oneflawediris