She bought the red shoes to wear to the graduate’s ball. Ankle-twisting heels and crimson satin. Tired of stirring dust in the corner with the timid girls, she wore the shoes to seal a promise of change. Now, twirling under the disco lights alone, she threw off frowns from dancing couples.
She partied in them with friends on a Friday night. From across the room, he surprised her with his smile – like the taste of roasted coffee when she’d expected tea. They danced, swaying together in perfect step, before lips laced with promise pressed to hers.
She wore them on her wedding day. Red-hot poker toes peeking rebellion. Her mother-in-law’s breath hissed tight-lipped indignation. But with hands clasped at the cake-cutting, Brian touched his shoe to hers, sharing the crimson secret in a smile.
She packed them beneath nappies and cream. Good luck charms awaiting baby’s first cry. Brian laughed when he glimpsed covert crimson amid the baby’s clothes. The shoes’ last outing before banishment to the cupboard, to gather dust with passing days.
She let her daughter play dress-up in them – small feet slip-sliding across the floor. A painted face and red lips. Trailing scarfs and plastic beads.
Grownup clothes showing whispers of a future shadow. Childhood passing with seeming slowness, vanished in a backward glance.
She hunted in every store to match them to a new outfit. On the morning of the wedding polished patent replaced missing crimson. No time to wonder where the originals had gone as Brian walked their daughter down the aisle. Until, kneeling at the altar, the bride’s red shoes greeted the congregation.
She brought them out for their Golden Wedding. Worn-down heels and toe-pinching satin. Not good for wheelchair pushing, but they made Brian smile. And his smiles she stored for the coming future. A hospital room and the winding down, where time would be gauged by the break between his breaths.
She paired them with her black dress for his funeral. He would have laughed at how the vicar’s eyebrows shot up at the sight. Their daughter understood, and that was all that mattered. The shoes had seen her into his life and now they showed him out.
She burned them in her fireplace. Faded red and scuffed satin blazing bright. Age was nipping at her heels like approaching winter. Until her daughter placed a shoebox on her knees. Not ankle-twisting heels but crimson satin. She asked a new promise to be made.
Life wasn’t over yet. It was still for living.
A new adventure waiting to begin.