Shoe Shopping – Part One

A story that has very little to do with shoes.

As soon as the car door slammed shut, her nostrils began to burn from the stench of the acid that had attached itself to her clothes. The acid was effective at removing the mess, but it really did stink. She repressed her immediate desire to leave the car for fresh air. Instead she calmly drove away winding the window down with her immaculate leather glove. There was no time to waste.  She drove with a quiet sense of purpose and continued with her day.

The car was quiet, she did not enjoy music. The sounds of the engine and the road were much more soothing to her than lyrics about, what, love? loss? regret? No, silence suited her much better. As she returned to the limits of her village she remembered the milk. As much as she didn’t feel like walking into a shop, she was supposed to buy the milk. If she didn’t, he would ask why, which would lead into a series of complicated lies about her day. Frankly, the activity of the morning had worn her out and buying the milk, as annoying as it was, would be more efficient.

When she stepped out of the privacy of her car and inhaled the fresh air, she realised that, once again, she’d grown acclimatised to the acidic gases. The acid worked so well for her that this was convenient, yet she was also sure it couldn’t be good for her health. The irony of this was lost on her. She strode into the shop and prepared herself by adopting a ‘friendly’ expression and quickly thinking of lines of idle chat. The shopkeeper lived around the corner and she saw him quite frequently, so she assumed that their mutual friendliness and the length and frequency of their relationship made them friends.

The bells tolled above the door, and the shopkeeper turned round with an expression on his face. Was it fear or surprise? She couldn’t tell. She always got those two confused.

“Rita, how are you my dear?” The shopkeeper said. “You’re the first customer I’ve seen today.” Definitely surprise, she thought.

“Slow day then?” She replied, smiling on queue. What was his name? Marvin? Martin? Michael? She couldn’t remember.

“Unfortunately so,” he said. “I resorted to reading all the newspapers this morning, even the local one!” He chortled and she gave a little laugh, but she couldn’t really get the hang of humour. She certainly wasn’t looking for conversation, it was far too much effort, but the man, (Malcolm?), kept yammering away.

She subtly moved to the back of the little shop to get the milk, and as she reached for it, she remembered. “Do you know a good stain remover?”

He pointed to the left at a tall yellow bottle. “That’s the best one we sell.”

“Great, I spilt red wine on my white shirt and I just don’t want to throw it away.” The lie flowed easily from her tongue.

“In this economy I can’t blame you, everything is an unnecessary expense.” He indicated the financial page of the latest newspaper he was reading. As she reached for her purse, he turned the page of the paper. It was an enlarged photo of a young woman captioned ‘missing’. He caught her gaze and shook his head. “Terrible isn’t it? The poor young thing, she hasn’t been seen for a week.”

“Awful,” she agreed, hoping that her tone was appropriate. They exchanged more small talk until she took her items, left the shop, and returned to her car. Although she’d only just seen the picture of that woman, she couldn’t remember her face. You would think such a detail would permanently remain inside her memory, but it never did. As she drove away she glanced down at the gear stick and caught sight of her shoes, black stiletto Manolo Blahnik’s, she needed no prompt to remember the shoes.

End of Part One.

The prompt for this story was to write about topic X without ever mentioning topic X.  How’d I do? Please tell me what you think!

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