Here’s this week’s story. It may remind you of a folk tale. As always, your feedback is most welcome.
The Golden Sandals
By Laura McHale Holland
Carole saw the ad on Facebook. The sandals. Golden. Shimmering. Three-inch heels. There on the right-hand side of the page when she’d clicked on Susan’s page. She’d gone there to see pictures of their recent vacation in Costa Rica. Oh, the kisses. Oh, the tropical breezes. On their last night there, they’d danced the night away at a little club right on the beach.
Carole meant just to look at the pictures and leave a comment; she hadn’t even unpacked yet. But she couldn’t take her eyes off those sandals. She recalled that last night of vacation. How she’d wished she could dance on and on and never go home to her job as a pharmacy clerk in Oakland. She knew she didn’t need new shoes, especially not sandals. She already had thirty pair. But these were so elegant with straps that tied just over the ankle bone. They’d be great dancing shoes, she surmised. And that shimmer mesmerized her.
She clicked on the ad and arrived at a colorful home page that offered just about every pair of designer shoes Carole had ever longed for. And she couldn’t believe the discount on the sandals. They were by the up-and-coming designer Diablo. If she bought a pair that night, the ad said, she’d be one of the very first women to own a pair. The retail price was $500; they were on sale for $99.99, shipping included, no tax. She was at the checkout page in a matter of seconds, filling in credit card info she’d provided so often on other sites that she had every detail memorized, including that three-number code on the back of her Visa card. She was so excited she could hardly sleep that night.
Four days later, she came home from work and the shoes were by her front door. She knew it was her sandals; the box was the right size. She didn’t give any thought to the lack of a return address. She had only a few minutes to get ready to go out. She and several friends were going to a local club where their friend, a DJ, would be working, so they were going to get in for free. She put on a form-fitting black skirt and blouse and gold accessories. Then she slipped on the shoes and began dancing right there in front of her bedroom mirror. Just a little at first. When she heard Susan’s car pull up outside, she danced out to the car. She’d never felt so graceful, so coordinated. All the way to the club, she couldn’t sit still. Her friends thought she must be high. “What are you on?” they asked. “I’m just excited,” she replied. “You’re just a bunch of party poopers.” “Could you at least sit still until we get there?” Susan asked. Carole didn’t even attempt to stop her shuffling and bopping in the car. She was having too much fun.
At the club, she raced to the head of the line and begged, while dancing, for the guy at the door to her in. He waved her in. She pointed to her friends, who were at the end of the line. He waved them in, too. Carole danced ahead. Soon she was in the center of the dance floor, stepping and dipping with whoever was willing. But one after another her dance partners tired and had to sit down. Soon all eyes were on the young woman in the sparkling golden sandals who stomped and twirled and spun around and around, whether a song was playing or not. She danced on and on. Her head and shoulders began to droop, her eyes became dull, she heaved and gasped, her black outfit, wet with sweat, clung to her skin. But her feet wouldn’t stop. She tried to sit down many times, but her feet kept moving. She tried to take the sandals off, but she couldn’t untie the straps. And it seemed, as time went on, her feet propelled her with increasing force.
She called to her friends, begged them to hold her down. They all tried to grab hold of her, tried to get her to stop, but their hands kept slipping right off. She danced on and on. All anyone could do was watch. And when the club closed, she danced out the door with her friends chasing behind. But instead of going to Susan’s car, she danced down the street. Her friends ran after her but could not keep up. They collapsed on the sidewalk and watched her dance off into the distance. Twirling, spinning, too winded to even cry out for help. She disappeared on the horizon, and nobody ever saw her again. Not in Oakland anyway.