The Talking Shoes

Street-Sale-Picture_600The flea market was doing a brisk business, but the shoes weren’t drawing any attention. It didn’t help they were placed under an ugly pink and gray jacket that had known better days. People took one look at the jacket and moved on.

Red Shoe hated flea markets. There was too much junk and too many people. At least she stood out being cherry red, but definitely looked her age and had dingy ties. Next to her was a brown sling-back shoe she didn’t recognize.

Bored, she turned to the brown shoe and asked, “So, she’s getting rid of you, too?”

In an obviously fake French accent, Brown Shoe replied, “Are you talking to moi, Mademoiselle?”  If Red Shoe had eyes, she would have rolled them.

“What’s with the accent? You’re not French. You’re a knock-off, like the rest of us. She couldn’t afford the real thing.”

“Excusez-moi! She bought me at zee special sale. I’m made by zee famous French designer, Louis Vuitton.”

“Yeah right, and I’m made by Jimmy Choo! We’re both fakes and she’s getting rid of us. I bet your twin has a hole like mine. That’s why they’re not out.”

“Au contraire, madame! My twin is in zee box in the back. Zee lady’s feet grew too big for us.”

“Well, that’s true. Since her husband left, she has been eating way too many Twinkies.”

“Why are you zis mean? Poor Chérie, she was unhappy. Zee man was not good to her!”

Shrugging her white ties, Red Shoe said, “Well, I agree. He was an SOB. I would’ve kicked him in the butt, but my toe was too soft. You, on the other hand, could do some damage!”

“Don’t I know it! My pointed toe is sturdy, but I wouldn’t have aimed for his butt. I had another piece of his anatomy in mind. Unfortunately, she stopped wearing us and left us in the shoe box.”

That’s why Red Shoe didn’t recognize her. Then, it hit her. The accent had disappeared. Dripping sarcasm, she asked, “So, did your French accent take the boat home?”

Brown Shoe groaned. “Shoot! It’s just so frickin hard to keep up that French accent! You’re right. I am a knock-off. My sister and I were made in China, but pieced together in Detroit.”

“You’re originally from Detroit? So were we! Where’d you live?”

“First we lived in Sherwood Forest, but later we moved to….”

Red Shoe jumped in. “Oh. My. Gosh. We lived in Sherwood Forest! It was swanky, but the woman was a second wife and didn’t realize we were faux leather. She gave us to her sister in Cincinnati.”

Brown Shoe said, “Geez-o-pete! We also lived in Cincinnati, but the woman decided to wear only Birkenstock sandals, even with her evening gowns! She gave us to Goodwill. We got passed around after that.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Being a shoe isn’t all it’s cut out to be, is it?”

A voice from above interrupted them. “Look at the shoes! I like this one.” A hand reached down and picked up Brown Shoe.

As Brown Shoe rose into the sky, Red Shoe called out, “Good luck! Don’t forget your friends…” But Brown Shoe was gone.

It was always this way at flea markets. Just when Red Shoe thought she’d made a friend, they were taken. But, ever the optimist, she thought to herself, “My luck is bound to change.”

With a wiggle of her ties, she turned to the faded gray Mary Jane shoe next to her and asked, “So, she’s getting rid of you, too?”

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lightandshade-logoI’ve had this story for some time. It was originally from this Light and Shade Challenge Prompt, which is why the picture might look familiar to those of you who participated in that challenge.

At the time, something delayed me and I missed the time frame – probably due the the word count, which I didn’t make again in this story:~) But I always loved the prompt picture and had a great time with this story. The story is wacky, but was fun to write. I hope you enjoyed it.

Writing prompts are fun! Try the Light and Shade Challenge; you’ll like it!

If you like writing to  picture and/or quote prompts, check out the Light and Shade Challenge. Lyssa Medana and Thomas Marlowe have done a great job of creating fun pictures and quotes to inspire stories. In addition, they also offer some prompts with longer and shorter word counts. In short, a bit of everything to please and challenge any writer.

The Ghost at Victoria’s Secret

800px--Times-_and_-World's-_buildings,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_viewsImage in public domain and courtesy of New York Public Library taken from Wiki Commons – Click to enlarge

Jenna was in the checkout line at Victoria’s Secret when she noticed a pretty woman enter the shop. Wearing an old-fashioned black velvet dress, she reminded Jenna of Civil War pictures from her American history class.

Jenna’s friend, Hetty, was ahead of her. She tapped Hetty and whispered, “Do you see that odd lady? She dressed for Halloween, but it’s months away.”

Hetty looked around and shook her head. “I don’t see anyone odd, except you.” She smiled, taking the sting from her words.

The woman wandered around the shop, looking confused, but no one else noticed her. Jenna’s stomach dropped. Uh-oh!  I’m seeing ghosts again!

Her Granny had also seen them. She’d told Jenna the best thing to do was help the poor soul move on. So, Jenna stepped out of line and went to the woman. “Are you okay, Ma’am?”

The woman’s eyes took in Jenna’s skimpy dress. In a haughty voice, she asked, “Are you a Cyprian?” Then, she murmured, “He sent me to a brothel!”

But Jenna heard and immediately said, “It’s not a brothel, Ma’am. My name’s Jenna. What’s yours?”

The woman stared at Jenna as if she was the apparition, but finally said, “My name is Abby. I’m meeting…” She paused. Her cheeks were flushed as she continued, “…a good friend at The World Newspaper, but this can’t be his office!” She started to walk away.

Jenna touched her arm. “That newspaper doesn’t exist anymore, Abby.”

“No! He sent me this picture with the address.” She reached in her small velvet purse and handed Jenna an old-fashioned picture.

Jenna recognized it as a stereoscopic picture card. Henry, her cousin, was a collector. Looking closely, she saw the sign advertising, The World Newspaper Offices. She also recognized the photographer’s name and address from Henry’s pictures.

She realized Abby’s mistake. “While this is a picture of the newspaper’s offices, the address on it is the photographer’s. They once owned this building.”

Abby’s face paled. She pulled a gold watch from her belt and peered at it. “I’m late! Manton will publish and Lincoln will destroy him. He doesn’t know it’s forged!” She rushed out the door. Jenna followed calling, “Abby, wait!”

But Abby was gone. Jenna looked around and froze. The rushing cars on Broadway were replaced by horse-drawn carriages. Men with black top hats walked arm-in-arm with women dressed like Abby. They gaped at Jenna as they passed by.

Scared, Jenna shut her eyes. When she opened them, everything was normal again. New Yorkers hurried around her, busily texting. She sighed. Granny forgot to tell me about stepping into the past! Looking down, she realized she still held the picture Abby gave her.

She sold it to Henry and told him her story. He knew about the ghost stuff, but didn’t have the gift himself. He verified Manton Marble was Editor of The World News and unknowingly published a fraudulent Lincoln proclamation, which almost landed him in jail. Abby Williams Lambard was his second wife.

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This is a fiction ghost story woven with some real facts. Manton Marble and Abby Williams Lambard were real people and married in 1879. Manton Marble was Chief Editor of the New York World News, often called The World News. He got into serious trouble for publishing a fraudulent presidential proclamation. Stereoscopic cards were popular in the mid to late 1800s. Last, but not least, a Victoria’s Secret store does occupy the ground floor of the former E. & H. T. Anthony & Company building. That’s where the facts end in this story. The rest was all fiction.

lightandshade-logoThis post was written for the Light and Shade Challenge.

Promises

Images courtesy of freeimages.co.uk

I had five seconds of absolute exhilaration while flying through the air, before I crashed and slid along the grimy subway underpass. I finally stopped in a puddle of “who knows what” and lay stunned.

The boys followed me down. None of them missed the turn. I sat up, knowing what was coming. Bobby didn’t disappoint as he taunted, “You totally biffed that turn, Jules. Just proves girls will never beat us dudes at BMX.” Bobby tried to be cool, but wasn’t.

I ignored him. Instead, my eyes found Steve. Taller and lankier than the others, he was new to the bike group, but rode the same school bus as me. I had really liked him. Well,  up until now, when he looked away from me.

Eventually, they tired of teasing me and left. Still shaky, I stood and leaned against the wall, closing my eyes. A squeak of brakes made me open them. Steve had returned.

I glared. “Did you come back to gloat?” I tried to sound tough, but my voice wavered.

“No, Jules, I wanted to be sure you were okay. That was some crazy thing you did.” There was admiration in his voice, but I wasn’t ready to forgive him, yet.

He leaned his bike against the wall and slowly walked over to me, studying my face. He got so close; I could see the yellow flecks in his hazel eyes and the soft blond fuzz on his face. I wanted to touch the golden-brown hair escaping his helmet, but clinched my hands instead.

“What do you want, Steve?” I tried to move forward, but he didn’t give me space.

Instead, he gently touched my cheek. It hurt and I flinched, but he didn’t notice. Still staring into my eyes, his voice was low, almost a whisper. “You’ve got the prettiest eyes, Jules. They remind me of flowers growing in my mother’s garden. I don’t know their name, but your eyes are the same color of blue.” His eyes drifted down to my mouth and my stomach flip-flopped.

He leaned closer. His lips almost touched mine. A car horn made us both jump.

Steve shook his head and stepped back. His face turned bright red as he said, “You’re lucky your face is just bruised, given the air you took.”

Reeling from the almost kiss, I was silent. He lifted my bike, checking it. “Well, the front wheel is bent.”

I looked at it and groaned. “Mom is going to kill me.”

“Don’t tell her. My dad can fix this in a few days.” Steve smiled, showing a dimple in his cheek I’d never noticed before. I desperately wanted him to finish the promise of his kiss.

Steve gave me his bike to push. He carried mine. As we walked, he said, “Come to the bike park this Saturday, okay? I promise to teach you some tricks that will make Bobby jealous.”

I smiled. I planned on making him keep that promise and the other one, too.

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lightandshade-logo_3x2Written for the Light and Shade Challenge, Monday 7 July 2014

The Lesson of the Bee

Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz. Waving both hands over her head, Trudy chased away the bee. She wrinkled her nose and said, “Bees are so annoying!”

“Leave it alone, Trudy! Bees are good in a garden. They pollinate flowers and give us honey. They don’t intentionally hurt you, unlike people.” Trudy flinched at the angry snap of her mother’s voice. She fiddled with her large sunglasses.

Without looking at Trudy, her mother sighed. Her voice sounded sad as she asked, “What happened to your eye this time, child?”

She should’ve known her mother would figure out why she was wearing the big sunglasses again. “It’s nothing, Mom; just an accident. Tommy slipped. His hand hit my eye.”

Snip. Snip. Snip. Three more dead flowers went into the basket.

Her mother’s blue eyes turned and stared at Trudy’s long-sleeved shirt. “I assume the bruise you’re hiding under those sleeves was also an accident?”

“He didn’t mean to do it. He’s scared because he’s out of work.”

“I thought he just got a job.” Her mother moved on through the garden. Trudy rushed to keep up with her.

“It didn’t work out. Tommy needs something more challenging.”

“Like beating his wife?” Trudy’s mom stopped clipping the roses and looked at Trudy with raised eyebrows.

This annoyed Trudy. Her mom had no idea what Tommy was going through. “It only happened once before. That was months ago and he apologized over and over again. It’s my fault anyway. I’ve been irritating him a lot lately.”

Trudy’s mother shook her head. “Child, once is too much!”

“It’s my marriage, not yours!” Another bee buzzed around Trudy. She couldn’t help it. She slapped it to the ground and stomped on it. Her mother leaned down and picked up the bee with her gloved hand. She opened her hand to Trudy. The bee was squashed.

Trudy reached out and touched her mother’s hand. “I’m sorry, Mom. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“But you did and the bee is dead. You’re bigger and stronger than it is. You got scared, knocked it down and stepped on it. What’s the difference between what you just did to this bee and what Tommy’s doing to you, child?”

Trudy couldn’t take her eyes off the squashed bee. She killed it. It happened so fast, like Tommy’s beating last night. When she got home from work, he was slouched in his chair watching a football game.

He told her to get him a beer. She told him to get his own beer. Without warning, he grabbed her arm, threw her down. He was about to kick her, but she managed to turn her head just in time. His boot glanced off her eye.

Her mother was correct. Tommy was doing to her what she did to the bee.  It wasn’t right. The tears came first, silently flowing down her cheeks, but they were quickly followed by gut wrenching sobs. Trudy’s mother grabbed her daughter and held her, letting her cry.

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This time I used two prompt challenges:

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Writing Prompt: 2014, Week 22 (I used the word “honey” used in the quote.)

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Light and Shade Challenge Monday 26th May 2014 (I used the picture of the boot as inspiration.)