Tell A Tale in 500 Words
Recalled to Life By Celine Domenech
It was the wettest of times, it was the aridest of times, it was the age of abundance, it was the age of famine, it was the epoch of selfishness, it was the epoch of selflessness, it was the season of success, it was the season of bankruptcy, it was the spring of knowledge, it was the winter of ignorance, we had everything behind us, we had nothing in front of us – in short the shoes marched past us, uninterrupted wave of leather, impersonal, distant, disdainful. The red shoes walked with them. Her high heels often tapped in a puddle, sending cold and murky water on the steps of the porch where my master and myself hugged against each other. The mud ran in thick drops along a cardboard sign like dirty tears. On the sign, the half-faded words stood like an epitaph to a lifeless existence. It read:
I LOST MY HOUSE BECAUSE I LOST MY JOB. I WORK WELL WITH ANIMALS, I AM HARD-WORKING AND MOTIVATED. PLEASE HELP.
But nobody helped. The wave of shoes just walked past it, day after day, blind to its plead. The red shoes shone the brightest among the lot. Once, their pointy toe kicked the dirty paper cup that we kept by the sign. The only coin inside rolled in between the stomping feet of those who still had somewhere to go back to. My master sighed. Then he got up, and, invisible to all, faced the army of shoes to retrieve our precious disk of nickel. I licked his face when he came back to the steps under the porch. His hand rubbed my head. In the distance, the red shoes disappeared round the corner, unaware of the trouble they had caused.
Every day was the same. In the morning the marching shoes were slow and carried the faint smell of an early meal, hot coffee and warm dough in plastic bags. That was the time when my master retrieved our breakfast from the metal bins in the streets: Half-chewed sandwiches and pastries on good days, rotten apples on bad days. In the evening, the shoes marched back, hurrying into the streets, a smell of ink, carpet and plastic chairs clutching to their soles. That was the time when my master hunted for warmth in the bins: Newspapers and cardboard packages were our bed at night.
Nobody ever noticed us like nobody noticed when one day the red shoes slid on the wet pavement. First, we saw her hands, and then her hair. The woman with the red shoes was blond and she lay flat between the puddles. The other shoes hurried past, oblivious to the Life on the ground. I ran and sat by her side. Timidly, my master offered his hand, testing the boundaries between her world of the Living and ours of the Dead. She hesitated. Was that stinking beggar the only rescue? It was.
She took his hand, grateful. He held hers, alive again.
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