High school senior Ashley St. Helens
has suddenly found herself living a fairy tale life....
Which is not as much fun as it sounds.
Until... the other shoe drops.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Capital 'L'

From: FTR <info@fairytalereality.com>

Now, I know what you’re thinking: No foot in the kingdom could fit in Cinderella’s tiny glass slipper. I know in the legend the thing that truly sets Cinderella apart, in the end, from all the other women, was the fact that her feet were so dainty and unique. Like her, I am different because of my feet, but in the opposite way. The only thing dainty about my feet is the nail on my baby toe.

My feet started growing a few months before Dad and Sylvia got married. She had ordered satin shoes for Debra, Donna and I, dyed to match our bridesmaids dresses, but the morning of the wedding, they no longer fit. The Girls convinced me to wear them anyway. I toughed it out on the ride to the church and the walk up the aisle, but the pain of standing through the ceremony was so blinding I passed out. Which caused waaay too much attention to be focused on me, and embarrassed all of us but my dad, who was cool about it. I completed the ceremony barefoot, but couldn’t go into the restaurant for the reception. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Dad gave me some money to go to the drug store and buy some flip flops.

Over the next few months, those really busy months of The Girls moving in and Sylvia redecorating, my feet kept growing. I burned out on shoe shopping because it brought up such self-loathing. Years later, I would adopt the habit of wearing my pants too long, with really high heels, so my footprint would appear smaller, but at that time I gave up wearing shoes, period, and started wearing flip-flops exclusively. My feet were flat, calloused, and always exposed. Debra took pity on me and gave me some of her old nail polish. By sixteen I was a size thirteen. Standing sideways, I looked like a capital ‘L.’ Kids at school called me Bigfoot, behind my back of course, but I heard them. Sylvia kindly called a plastic surgeon to see if I could have a foot reduction. (Not without having my toes removed.) Later on, in college, Nevada and Linda would say no girl in town could fill my shoes, but I would always tell them they were wrong; any girl in town could fill them. With hot water. And bathe in them.

A few months after my dad died, I noticed some of his clothes in the Goodwill box, which typically sat by the door until it overflowed or until I loaded it in Sylvia’s SUV and borrowed the keys to make a run. Underneath the suits and pinstriped shirts, which still smelled like him and made me want to cry, and next to the mohair sweater, which I kept, were a few pairs of shoes: some scuffed black wingtips and a pair of white tennis shoes, never worn. I was hauling the box out when I thought to check the size. Men’s eleven. I tried the tennies on and they fit.

So when I told Harry I had nothing but my dad’s old sneakers to wear, he was stunned. Partly, I’m sure, the way all people are when they see my smile, and get to know me, and then one day glance down at my structural support system. And partly, he told me later, because he was thinking about when he and my dad went out to get running shoes together, vowing to start being healthier. And then they never ran in them.

Just at that moment, Sylvia started calling down the stairs again. I was sure she knew I was on the phone. I heard the creak of the stairs; she was coming down. Just at that moment, I smelled the smell of scorched polyester; I had left the iron sitting in place when I went to the closet to find the dress. I said “oh heck,” and a quick good-bye to Harry, and hoped for the best. Before he hung up, he said three magic words that changed something inside me. It had been years since I had heard them.

He said, “I love you.”


From: FTR <info@fairytalereality.com>


Post a Comment