I threw my shoes in a rusted trashcan. The one that accepted empty water bottles unconditionally, though the can for recycling stood less than a foot away. Two years old, with holes at the heels. Indeed, the passing of time suggested that like most women at crowded bus stops (the ones loudly pleading for their children to be quiet as they finished their back-to-school shopping), I would never pay my debts as a foot model. My hammertoe, bumpier still, would never traumatize those poor men waiting for hours at the urgent care clinic. Nor would my ingrown toenails command a second look as teenagers bitched in packs, walking home from the magnet school.
I always insisted that flats didn’t hurt. But Lori, with her Sharpie, had points to make as she traced around my calluses. I just returned home, in front of the Travel Channel, which reminded me that if I cared enough, I could seize a promotion and finally, buy gray plaid shoes with memory foam so I wouldn’t ache so much. Lori just wanted to remind me of ways in which I was cruel. Mainly, to my bones, and the scarred fishtails on which I stood.
Teenagers, again, walked before my indifference. Commercial after commercial, best friends smiling with those huge retro headphones blaring in some department store. I argued with Lori that it didn’t matter, that my toes were less than ordinary and life could be lived barefooted. She laughed, mentioning downtown potholes.
I conceded, seeking heels.
Thank you, for not gushing about your backbreaking benevolence today.
I didn’t particularly want to go, but went after watching caramel stick to the sides of a plastic cup. I usually end up tearing them apart. The cups, like I do with boxes of Kleenex when summer hits.
No one talks, which I don’t mind. The silence is especially tolerable as this is one of a few locations where the Disney Channel doesn’t giggle all day from a battered JVC from 1995. A wall separates the staff from the seen and I’m able to feed words into the mouths of people I don’t know who walk four stories below.
I didn’t have a story today. Neither did you. Nothing changed, aside from a session cut to a full ten minutes. Usually, there’s a girl who listens to nursery rhymes on a cassette player bandaged with Lisa Frank dolphins. I didn’t see her.
The receptionist liked my sweater. I always wear sweaters. Unlikely to change, like August’s angry sidewalks. I passed a house for rent on my way back, wondering which hurts more. A nail through softened soles, or crossing the street barefoot? This I ponder from time to time as I’m fine with a few cheap shoes.
The pulse remained in spite of the coffee. I told the nurse I stopped running. She asked me why, and I told her I found it boring. And, I’m lazy.
I wrote the renter’s number on a card in my pocket. Haven’t called.
The road spans convexly, and if I dared to pedal along its edge, dandelions and grasshoppers would greet my fall. The hill below, slanted and harsh, takes the clumsy to a charming enclave. Dispelling the occasional cowrie shell, the Pacific Ocean kills. I remember the newspaper headlines – “Two Young Marines Swept out to Sea Watching Typhoon Bart.”
Early March with cloudy weather. Not a bit too sweltering. Like any other Saturday, I slipped into tights from Kindergarten, snapped on a helmet approved to protect the precocious musings of fourth graders. I turned ten three months ago, but only outgrew training wheels days before that. Normalcy and friendships formed like calluses. A death grip on my handlebars. To a few special people was I securely attached.
Spinning my legs like spokes of wheels made me forget about math tests, and speeding was a crime to commit unpunished before turning sixteen. I squeezed my brakes in excess force, but the jolt in itself electrified.
I biked on the inside of that road, defying oncoming traffic. In this part of the world, the right lane’s left, and vice versa. Five minutes into the ride, and I roll across a thick pile of rope. Perhaps a deflated tire.
But tires are not sold in shades of yellow green. And ropes do not hiss, their ends not triangular. Neither possesses the capacity for pain. Neither makes a sound. And neither leaves you dead, or with legs unable to spin.
How I escaped a snakebite.