They are red leather, oxblood smart with two tiny velcro straps. Laces could wait. We bought them from the tiny shop down that little road – the posh shop with the adorable name. An occasion. So proud, so desperate to march on in front, to make a break for it. The first of a million steps on a lifetime’s journey, no sign that there would never be enough.
These are the artefacts we are supposed to keep sacred, cocooned in tissue paper or framed in an elegant box, suspended in time and space with a rustic label reminding me whose they were.
Fred’s first shoes.
One of them sits alone in my drawer, next to the hairdryer and some jewellery, some tablets and a few pages from my dissertation that someone found in a drawer of their own and thought I’d like. A place for everything, however careless.
One shoe is missing. The other frantically stashed, knowing it is precious but not knowing what to do.
Out of place.
Because that’s how we are now. Out of place. Half of you is here, on shelves, in frames, memorialised in blankets and stone, in memories and songs.
The rest of you is somewhere else, along with the rest of me, in big skies and windy days.
I find the lost shoe.
I’m looking for those gears you took of your bike that summer that you wouldn’t have thrown away. It lies there in another box of precious things that don’t belong together, except that they are yours. They can’t be kept, and they can’t be thrown away.
I snap the shoes together, a matching pair, and place them quietly back in the drawer; battered, out of place, together.