The fourth ring of the alarm clock found her curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed. The heat had made her afternoon nap a fitful one, and she had kicked her white satin sheets into a rumpled mess on the floor. She needed a shower to wash away the stickiness of dried sweat, the bleariness of her sleep-encrusted eyes, her boredom. A trail of ephemeral footprints followed her on the reddish brown Mexican tile as she made her way to the bathroom. While the water warmed to the perfect temperature, her slip fell to the floor, and she examined her body in the mirror. Her darkly tanned skin made her look older than she was, brown roots were peaking out from beneath the honey blond of her hair, her breasts were beginning to wilt beneath the weight of previous caresses. In the shower she realized that she had lost her natural scent. Beneath the fragrance of herbal shampoos, body wash, and lotion, there no longer lay hidden a unique human smell. Puzzling over the biochemical responses of her body odor, she finished her shower, and continued with her evening ritual, blow drying her hair, fixing her makeup (a thin layer of base, a little powder, black eyeliner, mascara, red lipstick), and picked out an outfit. There was an inverse correlation between the number of nights she had spent alone and the length of her dresses. She chose a black dress that fell about seven inches above the knee with a plunging neckline. She was now ready to go out.
Within fifteen minutes she was comfortably perched on a padded bar stool, Bacardi and Diet Coke in hand. Her position did not change as she encountered hours of men. She was polite; she listened to the stories of their previous relationships, of how they were interested in finding that special someone with which to share something lasting and meaningful. She looked in their broken needy eyes, and she thought that she would die of boredom. Once or twice she plotted to vomit on her suitor’s shiny patent leather shoes in order to disengage herself from a conversation about how he wanted to have at least four kids (two girls and two boys), but ultimately decided against it. Occasionally she would get lost in the exaggerated curve of the red lips smiling falsely back at her from the side of her empty glass. Convinced that the night was a failure, and that there was no one there to suit her purposes, she returned home, and as soon as her head was nestled in recesses of her down pillow, she was deeply asleep.
In the morning, she woke to find that she was a shoe.
She made her way over to the full-length mirror and was quite astonished when she met with her reflection; she had always pictured herself as a stiletto, or even a playful mule, something sheik, perhaps by Gucci or Manolo Blahnik. But, there she was, a plain brown leather loafer, slightly worn in the toe. Faced with the sensible flatness of her heel, she became quite overwhelmed. She ventured that her predicament was not altogether normal and pondered the scientific validity of her newfound state. After much consideration she decided that possibly the best way to further investigate would be to enlist the help of her doctor, and called to make a same day appointment.
Her expedition to the doctor’s office was quite a treacherous one. Many times women would stop her to ask what size she was and could they try her on. A shoe with that much mobility would be a great help to a woman who is constantly on her feet. While slightly intrigued by their offers, she could not yet reconcile herself to have those red pedicured nails nestled inside her. Once she encountered an enraged set of spectacles who insisted that she had once stepped on him and shattered his lens. There were wads of sticky pink gum to be avoided and tricky grates to be wary of, lest she should get stuck. By the time she arrived she was really quite exhausted.
After a thorough examination, some poking and prodding, sticking out of the tongue, and stretching of the leather, Dr. I. Socram determined that she was really quite a well-constructed, sensible shoe. While the wearing of her toe could later turn into a more serious injury, there was really nothing to be concerned about at the moment. Perhaps she would feel better if she had herself shined. According to the medical authority, there was really only one problem. He breached the subject quite carefully, for he did not want to offend her. He said that generally shoes came in pairs. Really, when you think of it, what functional purpose does only one shoe have for the general population? Shoes are always made in matching sets. All she really needed was another loafer like her to make a pair, and then she would be in tiptop condition.
She left the office a little disheartened. She was relieved to find that she was healthy, but remained a little troubled by the doctor’s prognosis. She now felt lonely and longed to be a complete set. The thought that she was separated from the one shoe that was crafted to always be with her left her heartbroken. She decided that in the future, she would concentrate her energies on finding her matching loafer. She would peruse used clothing stores and dumpsters and scour all telephone wires. By the time she reached her home, she was both mentally and physically worn out, although slightly more encouraged about her situation. Confused and weary she sought the comfort of her bed, and retired to her afternoon nap.
The fourth ring of the alarm clock found her curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed.