Sometimes you’ll do anything for a pair of feet you desire.
The boy and his mother arrived at the shoe shop and stood waiting.
He was a good boy. He didn’t mind.
His mother suggested he took off his shoes so that he would be ready when his turn came.
Winter had hit hard and everyone suddenly wanted winter boots or winter shoes and all the children found that last year’s shoes and boots no longer fitted. So here they all were. All at once. Everyone waiting their turn. Waiting and waiting.
The boy released himself from his mother as she went into an “I’ve been waiting for so long that I’m not really paying attention anymore” trance and “I’ve gone back home in my head and I’m planning the table for Christmas dinner” trance and a “Will there be enough potatoes for mash tonight” trance and the “When I was nineteen I thought I’d be having more fun than this; not worrying about money for food because my child needs new shoes” trance.
The boy walked around in his socks looking at all the shoes and boots on display. He stared at this pair, picked up that pair, stroked the suede ones, curled his lip up at the fluffy ones and quietly watched other children getting their feet measured.
And that’s when they chose him.
The green leather boots.
‘That’s the one we want’ they said to each other. ‘He’s the one we want to go home with.
‘Look at those perfect feet.’
‘Look at those stripy socks.’
‘We haven’t seen another boy in this shop all day that we like the look of. He’s the one.’
Oblivious, the boy went back to his mother.
She looked at his pale face, his pink eyes, his wind sore lips. ‘Shall we come back another day? It’s getting near closing time. You must be hungry.’ He nodded. He was a gentle boy. Disappointed but hungry he never saw the point in complaining; he never felt the need. He knew his mother loved him. They walked out.
‘Come back! Don’t go!’ the boots squeaked. ‘Take us with you!’
The boots threw themselves off the stand and shuffled underneath, watching for an opportunity to follow. Then when no one was looking they pattered out into the cold, dark night feeling very worried but excited.
‘Quick! There he is!’
They followed the boy and his mother all the way home, in through the front door and then they hid behind the coats licking themselves clean with their long tongues until bedtime. They were exhausted. (It is very rare for boots to travel that far alone.)
When the house was quiet they scaled the stairs, taking it in turn to haul each other up by the laces, and found the boy sleeping in his bed with his feet showing. He had outgrown his toddler bed and was waiting until his mother could find him a bigger one that she could afford but for now he slept in his socks with his feet hanging over the edge.
The boots couldn’t wait until morning to be tried on. They were too excited. They wanted to feel those warm feet filling the empty space and those wriggly toes tapping up and down inside their leathery bodies. With one final burst of energy they scrambled up onto the bed and slipped themselves onto the boy’s feet.
Just as they thought: the feet were a perfect fit.
‘Ahhh… Mmmm – new feeeeet,’ they sighed, releasing tiny squeaks of bliss. ‘We just had to have these feet.’
‘I hope we don’t have to go back.’
‘It would be a shame to take us back.’
They would deal with the consequences in the morning.