If These Shoes Could Talk

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We used to run. Every morning, rain or shine we were together, trudging along. I felt your hands, full of life as they lifted me from the closet before nimble toes found their way past my tongue, filling me with energy. I could feel the tendons, as tight as the laces that held us together.

Walking outside as the sun was rising, the world quiet and full of hope as we welcomed the new day. A quick stretch, a few deep breaths of the morning air and we were on our way, heading out for an early dawn journey. Where to today?

We were alive! The splash of the dew drops on a cool summer mornings, the slippery blades of grass clung to my toe and hung on my heel, everything felt new and fresh. Through muddy puddles and wet roads we plunged ahead, steadfast and sure. I slapped the asphalt with confidence and pride as the warming sun grew stronger with each mile.

In the fall, as the weather became cool and the grass turned a yellowish brown, we stayed on course, running through the damp leaves that had collected on the street, the chimneys releasing a steady plume of smoke into the brisk autumn air. I felt the muscles, reactively flexing with each strident step, rhythmic and powerful in their fluid motions.

Winter arrived and we didn’t flinch. Socks, wet from a mixture of sweat and ice, soggy as we ran, the sting of the salt throbbed with each invigorating step as together we slogged through the ice and the chilly waters on the street. Our pace unrelenting as traffic sent slush splashing to the curb, drenching me in the frozen concoction of dirt and grime and chemicals. Oh the rush; running through the elements, stepping over and through any obstacles awaiting us. We were strong! Until we arrived home.

Something changed. Our runs became less frequent and our time less productive. The early morning sun would pass quietly over as you slept. A grief settled over the house like a fog in the trees, lingering…looming. No schedule, no alarms, and no structure. Movements were different, there was no direction, less confidence, with a heavy pain in our gait. My laces became dirty, frayed and mangled as they flopped along clumsily untied. Your feet slithered into my sole, slowly, like slugs sliding under a rock.

We travelled without hope, into dirty bathrooms, unfamiliar floors that were stained with filth and grime. Tap tap tap, I bounced anxiously in dark rooms with strange faces, threatening. Darkness subsided, my soles were creased and bent from the strain, hunched over as tears fell onto my surface like drops of springtime rain. Our hours were erratic, often leaving the house in the moonlight instead of the sun. Our steps steered with sadness, barely lifting my sole while dragging the heel. I sensed the depression in your pulse, the balls of your feet signaling the defeat in your mind.

Wake up! My outsoles faced upwards, the feet inside of me cold and lifeless. The night was dark and quiet, the pain dulled and numb. Finally the sun found us, there was movement. Bright lights, grim faces discussed the fate of the miserable soul who lay slouched on the gurney. I dangled lifelessly, my toes pointing downward as limp ankles had neither the strength nor the will to support the legs connected to them. Weak, in mind and spirit, ready to die from the abuse. Fade to black…

Slow. Our steps were unsteady and shaky. Like a toddler learning to walk, timid feet negotiating cautiously, one in foot in front of the other, again and again, until a comfortable hobble was agreed upon. Over time, the steps slowly became steady. Shuffling underneath the walker, the fluorescent lights bouncing off of the polished floors as machines hummed diligently in the background. Step, slide, step…

We rise with the sun, breathing in the healing powers of morning. We start our journey, our path becoming more familiar each day. We walk, sometimes working up to a gentle jog on good days. There is still a hurt in our steps, baggage that is carried but now it is managed. With each step the confidence returns, slowly. We walk towards a goal, instead of running away from the pain. One step at a time.

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