Flash Fiction: The Shoes by Cathy MacKenzie

20151015_062151-1Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a story based on these two pictures, shoes found one day by our own Cathy MacKenzie. In our stories, our character must encounter these two “sightings”—integrated into the story as we see fit!

Today’s post comes to us from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out the scary youth anthology, OUT OF THE CAVE, recently published under Cathy’s imprint, MacKenzie Publishing. Available on Amazon and Smashwords. JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

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The Shoes

by Cathy MacKenzie

A pair of men’s dress shoes suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the faint early morning light, almost knocking Carmen to the pavement. Why were shoes laying on the road? She inspected them without bending over, afraid to get too close, noticing the polished sheen and their just-so placement as if shoes2someone had stood in them before mysteriously having been spirited away. She glanced to the awakening sky and immediately chuckled at the idiocy of her movement as if a man—or even a woman—could be lifted out of footwear without a struggle. But who would have purposely left them by the road? And why?

She shook her head, the mystery too difficult for her to solve and, perhaps, better left as a curiosity. She scurried past the shoes and continued her jog until she halted like a galloping horse suddenly reaching a cliff’s edge.

Another pair?

More mesmerized than scared, she stared at the grungy brown lace-up shoes until shock turned to fright. She’d seen the occasional pair of sneakers dangling by laces from overhead wires but had never stumbled upon one shoe let alone two pairs within minutes.

The second pair lay haphazardly in the middle of the road as if someone had thrown them, like those sneakers tossed across overhead wires. If she believed the owner of the first pair had met a pleasant fate, the owner of these had suffered, for it was clear, at least in her mind, that a struggle had ensued. The shoes were old and haggard like elderly individuals given up on life, with dirt-encrusted soles, frayed laces, and worn insoles.

shoes1Had this pair been purposely discarded? Or had the owner been involved in a motor vehicle incident? She examined the pavement, looking for blood or other signs of an accident but saw nothing unusual.

Despite the sweat she had worked up while running and the warmth of the July morning, she shivered and rubbed her upper arms. Despite her dry throat, she swallowed. She forced herself to avert her eyes from the discovery: only a discarded pair of shoes; nothing untoward.

Shrugging, she turned and headed for home. Should she take a different route so she wouldn’t encounter the first pair again? No, she’d simply cross the road and run on the opposite side. She glanced one last time at the dress shoes before sprinting across the road. She jogged in place. Should she view the dress shoes one last time?

And then she had a thought: the impeccable shoes would be perfect for her husband, whose birthday neared. She could scrounge for a shoe box. He’d never know they weren’t new. Besides, rain was forecasted for later that day. At the very least, even if she changed her mind about gifting them, she should save them from the elements. Who knew, too, whether the owner, if still alive, might post a lost notice on the community bulletin board at Lakeside Grocery.

Her mind made up, she flew down the deserted street. Workers didn’t make their trek through her subdivision until around 6:45 a.m., precisely why she rose before the sun. She enjoyed the peace and quiet before the bustle of the day.

But where were the shoes? Had she missed them? No, there they were! She jogged toward them and stopped.

What! Socks?

She scanned the street. Dead. She hadn’t passed anyone, and no cars had driven by. Where were the shoes? How had socks taken their place?

The socks were a perfect match for the missing shoes: men’s dress socks. And they stood stiffly as if the wearer were invisible; she swore she discerned toes beneath the socks. Or had he just been magically spirited out of them and the socks hadn’t yet collapsed?

And did one big toe just wiggle?

Certain her eyes played tricks on her, she closed them, conjuring various scenarios. Reacting before thinking, she raced back to the older shoes, stopping when she reached them.

Except the shoes weren’t there; in their stead lay a crumpled pair of socks. And the slight breeze wafted their odour to her nostrils.

Where were these shoes? She questioned and answered at the same time: gone the way of the dress shoes.

Vanished!

But how? And why?

Obviously the discoveries had meaning. But what? Shoes hanging on wires meant something, she had heard, but wasn’t certain what. Good luck? Bad luck? She didn’t want to know, believing mysteries were just that: mysteries. And once solved, they weren’t mysteries any longer, and what fun would that be?

She raced toward home, picturing the dress socks at attention on the side of the road. She giggled. How silly they appeared; extremely silly.

But heck. They were new—at least they’d looked new. If Hubby couldn’t have a pair of shoes for his birthday, he could have a pair of socks. She returned to the area, not sure what to expect. Would something else have taken their place?

Still there. She picked up the right sock, which immediately went limp and soft. Warm, too, between her thumb and forefinger, as if the foot had just vacated. The other remained upright without its twin, and at her touch, it too collapsed. She rolled them into a ball, flipping the ribbed edge over the bulk like her mother had taught her.

She snickered. “How foolish.” Unlike the shoes, Hubby would know the socks weren’t new.

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The Spot Writers–our members:

RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Tom Robson: https://robsonswritings.wordpress.com/