The Shoes – a flash fiction piece.

She did a double-take, as she came out of her gate. No, she wasn’t seeing things. There they were. Alone and unoccupied, sitting neatly in the middle of the footpath. A pair of ordinary-looking men’s trainers, waiting for a pair of ordinary men’s feet to fill them and set off for the day’s adventures. Their owner nowhere in sight, beamed off to who knows where. A look up and down the road in the quiet time of the morning showed nothing. No stirrings of life yet, and no somnolent forms sleeping off Saturday night’s excesses. Perhaps their owner will come back for them, eventually. If he remembers anything about last night, and what he did in its’ alternate reality, that is.

To help with their reclamation in this small town, and also for no other reason than because it amuses her to do so, she posts a picture of them along with the caption “Alien abduction?” onto the local Facebook page The response is immediate. The hilarity and speculation of the events that might have led to those shoes being abandoned so neatly in the middle of a footpath, is plentiful and creative. But no-one comes forth to claim them. No-one posts that their child, friend, partner, or spouse has disappeared without trace, apart from these shoes. They stay quietly in the middle of the footpath, just how they were left there.

She shares a laugh with people about the shoes and their mysterious appearance, as she goes about her daily business over the next few days.  The occasional car slows down to look at the lonely and now famous-in-Westport footwear.  A handful of passers-by contemplate them as they walk past. But no-one takes them away, either by stealth or by right. Their story shrouds and protects them. They are guarded by their fame and mystery. 

Then, it finally becomes time to take them up from the footpath, and dispose of them. She feels a twinge of sadness as these ordinary shoes go to the place of no return. But their mysterious and unordinary tale stays on. It becomes another one of this town’s shared stories. The stories that loosely entwine the residents in each others’ lives, and form invisible bonds. The shoes are gone, but their story lives on in that place that stories live. These ordinary shoes have now become more than their mere physical matter ever was.

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