Photo: Jacek Ożóg
Feet, when they were still feet, boldly stepped onto the paths. It soon became apparent that the ground was full of sharp stones, venomous spiders and camouflaged holes. The feet were bleeding.
Frightened and confused, they searched for something to shield themselves with. They saw shoes. Men’s shoes, a few numbers too big. “Maybe these will protect me”, they thought and stepped hesitantly closer. Somewhere inside their feet they felt a threat, but the pain suppressed the sensation. The shoes looked inviting. Strong, warm and still without other feet. Boots looked around for them and saw the feet. The laces unrolled in an encouraging gesture. “We are so lonely and sore. And the shoes seem so good,” the feet snapped and jumped inside. They hid themselves in the huge, for them, boots and fell asleep. They were woken up by the breathiness, the heat and some sort of stickiness. They wanted to get out and couldn’t. They already knew the shoes were bad.
Their feet grew and the shoes could no longer hold them. They tore the laces and broke free. From then on, they treated every shoe like an enemy. They already knew how to deal with it, after all they were already quite big feet. They walked through roads, fields and woods, putting on more shoes along the way. And when too many stones accumulated in their shoes, they threw them away with them.
The years flowed by. The feet had their shapes, their habits, their angle on the road. They lived without shoes and were fine with it. Although sometimes they longed for something without knowing it themselves. Maybe for the warmth, the feeling of the shoes clinging to their feet, the protection and closeness. And one day they met shoes that longed for feet. “How brave you are, wise and able to always manage”. – said the shoes. “That’s the kind of feet we need, that’s the kind of feet we want to go through life with. Put us on and carry us out into the world,” said the shoes.
“Finally someone needs us, appreciates us and praises us. And wants us.” – thought the delighted feet. “This is definitely love. We fit together perfectly.” They put on their shoes, which quickly clung to their feet. Neither the shoes nor the feet knew that there was a spike hidden in the sole of one shoe. As long as the feet took steps according to the shape of the shoes, the thorn sat hidden. However, the feet were changing. They gave shape to the shoes and changed their habits. However, the shoe changes could not keep up with the feet. They were slower. The spike began to pierce the sole. “Something is pinching me,” thought the surprised right foot. “You can do it, don’t overdo it, let’s keep going”. – replied the left. And they walked, suppressing the pain and adjusting their stride to fit the shoes.
Years passed. The feet suffered and occasionally they would drop their shoes, rubbing the sore areas. They rested from the shoes, only to put them on again. They became accustomed and even very attached to their old travelling companions. It was a pity for the feet to leave the shoes. However, they no longer walked with lightness. Sometimes they even advanced foot by foot, without the former joy. The shoes had discovered the effect of the spike and were using it to regulate the pace of the feet. “It’s for your own good,” they said. “Otherwise you’ll go too fast and get exhausted. Or you’ll go the wrong way. We have to protect you.” The feet were grateful: “How caring, how dear these shoes of ours”. – they thought. And they walked on without even noticing that they were leaving a trail of blood behind them. They stopped more and more often. They asked the shoes to remove the thorn. But they pretended not to hear. And when the feet themselves tried to remove it, the shoes became silent and offended. With a quiet sigh, the feet undertook a further journey that no longer gave them joy. They felt much better without the shoes, but did not dare to say it out loud.
And the shoes increasingly delighted loudly in the other feet they passed. Feet without calluses or injuries. Smooth and, most importantly, looking for other shoes.
And the feet watched this pained and no longer knew what to do themselves. One day, while resting and enjoying the touch of the soft grass, the rays of the sun and the gentle breeze, they made the decision to end this anguish. They told their shoes, which went mad with despair. They slipped right off their feet and immediately found new feet to fill them. And the feet and the shoes felt an unspeakable sense of relief. Each for a different reason. The feet felt freedom. The shoes immersed themselves in belonging. And each went its own way.
I wrote this story on 7 November 2018.