June 20, 2014 by Melanie L.
I remember my shoes. They were solid black, heeled, wing-tip Mary Janes. Despite my best efforts to polish the scuffs, those shoes showed their wear. And it embarrassed me. My hat, contrarily, I can’t quite remember perhaps because it was pinned to my head and not within my field of vision as I stared at my double-crossing shoes.
I sat waiting at the corner bakery for my order and fretted all the while about my spent Mary Janes. It was unusually crowded. What if I ran into someone I knew? Someone who would notice the small imperfections embedded across the toes?
Unlike the hat, I can’t quite pin down the year, though I know it was the summer of 1940-something. Someone, my husband, maybe, asked me to fetch some baked goods that I didn’t have the time to make myself. Apparently, the entire neighborhood had the same notion.
So, there I was, waiting with my feet crossed at the ankle, gloved hands clasped in my lap, trying not to look so uncomfortable in such a crowded space. Then a shadow fell across my lap. I looked up to find that the shadow belonged to my friend, Melissa. She smiled sweetly and took a seat next to me. I tucked my feet as far under my chair as I could so she wouldn’t see. She didn’t.
We chatted while we waited. At some point, though, I noticed something wasn’t quite right. The bakery kept filling with women and yet no orders were being filled. The customers around me were getting pretty restless. Before I could mold my unformed suspicions into cogent thought, Melissa and I heard a thunderous bang followed by lots of male voices shouting clear commands that paradoxically created chaos.
A great swell of people shifted from the area near the entrance of the bakery toward the opposite wall where Melissa and I had been sitting. We promptly stood and got pressed against the wall. There were lots of armed men in uniform shouting and separating the female customers. I lost sight of Melissa in the melee.
I couldn’t defend myself against all the pushing and shoving. At some point I got a hard elbow in my rib cage. I looked in the direction of the source but could not determine from whence it had come. Someone stepped on the back of my trusty shoe. My foot broke free despite the strap’s valiant protest against my skin. I tried to reach down in the abyss to find it.
That’s when a violent thump landed on the back of my head culminating in a radiating sharp pain that cut through the nape of my neck and down my spine. I blacked out.
Sometime later, I opened my eyes slowly. One eye wasn’t cooperating at all. The other opened with occluded vision on account of some dark crust. I looked around the room. Was this a hospital? I couldn’t quite tell. It didn’t quite seem like the pristine, sterile environment I would expect from a hospital setting. If I could just get my eye to open all the way, maybe I could figure it out.
Instead, I tried looking down the bed at my feet. I pulled the sheet up exposing them. They looked dirty. I tried to roll my ankle. Nope, not dirt, but deep purple bruises covered my naked tattered feet.
I tried again urgently and with all my might to open my eyes wide. It worked.
I awoke in my bed, this century, this year, in my Victoria Secret pajamas and my favorite soft socks nestled comfortably over my feet, a perfect disguise for my old surgical scar and remaining congenital defects.
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