Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Shoemaker By Ian Henery

The Shoemaker

I stepped back and admired my work. The pungent smell of real leather was so familiar it was just a nagging notification at the back of my dull mind. The fresh shoes begged me to shine them; make them glow, achieve their true potential. My heart ached, my soul had been crumbling, and the migraine that plagued me continued during the height of my accomplishment. Shoving the acknowledgement to the back of my mind, I retrieved the shoes, and reached for the polish.

My name was Manette; and I had once been a great man. I had cared as a doctor, but I had been imprisoned within the Bastille; the castle for suffering and all-round pain. There are rumours about what occurs and transpires in the castle; but very few witness the atrocities first-hand, and of the unfortunate witnesses, only half make it out alive. The ungodly memories resonated in my mind day after day, the graphic, gruesome images of the discipline imprinted upon my eyelids, and I, the poor wretched victim; incapable of escapism. The authorities had let me resign; a gift I thought impossible, eternally out of reach. It was indefinite, however, whether they had granted my wish purely out of pity for the desperate mania dancing in my pupils, or whether it was due to the fact they wanted me to spread more rumours, to further the horrors of the Bastille.

But I did not; not intentionally, anyway, for some reason, the desperate calls for help, and the justifications as to why I had lost my mind could not precede from my tongue. It was useless, and thus I remained in solidarity. My interactions with the people limited to shoe orders and short niceties, I was deprived of the pleasures of the flesh, not that my desire was functional or humane. Even brushing of skin as I exchanged leather for money sent skin-crawling shivers through my body that all-familiar repulsion and nausea associated with the memories of the Bastille. It seemed as though I needn’t pass on the news of my mental health and the causes of my ruin, for people looked at me as though they already knew, people whispered as I passed, I needn’t expose my thoughts or my pain; it was general knowledge.

Through the searing realities of my past, there’s one light, one ache that calls to me. Her name is Lucie, my daughter. She calls to me, and she begs me to return. But she doesn’t know what I know, that my life, my new reality is a pit, a hole, whose end is infinite, and the walls are miles high. She doesn’t know that the Bastille clings to me at the bottom, yanking me deeper, and I, only a man, cannot carry the weight of a castle.

I put aside the fresh shoes, and reaching for more leather, I begin, again, to create.


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