Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Tiny Story About Shoes

The topic for Sunday Scribblings this week is "My Shoes." And although I have many beloved pairs of shoes, including these, that I could write about, I've written a "tiny story" instead:

A Tiny Story About Shoes

If she didn’t learn to dance now she knew she never would. Years had a way of slipping by like strangers in a street and too many had passed already without dancing. She longed to move like they did in old movies, to possess all her nerves and sinews and draw herself together into a creature of breath and body and rhythm and heat. So she lit candles for the muses and put a Fred Astaire movie on TV, then she reached up to the high closet shelf where the shoes waited, still wrapped in the brittle tissue of another century. Her notorious grandmother had danced with tyrants and poets in these shoes, on the decks of ocean liners under impossible moons. These shoes knew something about rhythm and heat even if she did not. She sat down to fasten the fragile buckles and wait for Fred Astaire to start dancing again, and she fell asleep like that, curled up on the sofa in her wise shoes. She dreamed she could move like silk in the wind, like an odalisque’s hips, like willow branches, like jazz shimmying from a clarinet, and she woke in the morning exhilarated, her limbs alive with the memory of movement. She marveled at her aching feet. The tape had run to its end and the cats were crouched on high shelves out of reach. She fancied they watched her with new admiration, and they wouldn’t come down until she had tucked the shoes safely away in the closet and closed the door.

(the end)

PS - I’ve discovered two scrumptious new words: ‘eldritch’ and ‘smaragdine.’ Weirdly, I feel as if I found them on the ground and put them furtively in my pocket instead of asking around to see who dropped them. I’m afraid to use them! ‘Eldritch’ comes via Kelly Link’s story Magic for Beginners (she’s one of my current favorite writers; if you haven’t read her stories: wow. Do.). And ‘smaragdine’ was just lying waiting for me on the counter at Starbucks. Literally. They’re doing some promotion for the new spelling bee movie and have word cards at the registers. Weird!

33 comments:

megg said...

wonderful words! and as always, I am completely enchanted by your tiny stories! I want you to put them all in a book and bind them together so I can slip into them one at a time - like precious chocolates!

Caroline said...

I had to slavishly look up your odalisque so that's a new word for me as is the green of smaragdine. Eldritch conjures up memories of playing dungeons and dragons...

I like the journey your magic shoes took this dream-dancer on.

paris parfait said...

Love the idea that shoes contain memories and the wearer will have similar adventures. Fantastic post! Thank you!

Shuku said...

That is -just- how I feel about my old dance shoes when I look at them. What a lovely story and yes, what a definite sense of adventure and possibility!

--Shuku

deirdre said...

Wonderful, magical story. Thanks for taking me into an enchanted world. And for making me go to the dictionary. I love new words.

Deb R said...

I love your tiny story!!

I also really like the word "eldritch", although I don't think I've ever used it. I had to look up "smaragdine" - that was a new one for me!

Cate said...

Your tiny story is simply beautiful, and I pulled all of the details close to me, curled up in them (i.e. my favorite: "brittle tissue of another century"). Outstanding, Laini, as always! xo

AnnieElf said...

Those dancing shoes danced you right up to the counter at Starbucks so you could find that great word. Serendipity - My word of the week.

Jennifer said...

I just LOVE your story. You have such a gift with words!

Amber said...

Wonderful!
I also love your Tiny Stories. I wish you would think about trying to make a wall calander out of them! I think that is a great idea.;)

:)

chest of drawers said...

There has been a wave of ballroom dancing shows here on TV lately and I dream of being able to dance like that! After begging and talking and talking and begging, Erich has finally agreed to come to a dance course with me! I think he and the children will be hiding my dancing shoes. I love your stories!

tinker said...

I want a pair of Ginger Rogers shoes!
Love the story, the found words, & the link to Kelly Link's work (ooo - I just read her eldritch Specialist's Hat story ...I'm still shivering). Thanks for all the fun!

GoGo said...

I have been inspired to go shoe shopping this week from all the blogs I have been reading, and with the line "She sat down to fasten the fragile buckles..." I suddenly feel the need to play with shoes that have buckles! This has been my favorite line to read so far. I just love the image it inspired in my head. Thanks.

Maggie said...

I love the story, and I especially love the idea of a history handed down through articles of clothing. My favorite dress-ups are from my grandmother's trousseau, and I love to think of all the things that her clothes and shoes must have seen.

Susannah said...

you really are a gifted writer, laini, that was gorgeous - a little mouthful of delight.... and i'm hungry for new words too...
Sx

Left-handed Trees... said...

I fell into the tiny story...but was completely lost with "Her notorious grandmother had danced with tyrants and poets in these shoes, on the decks of ocean liners under impossible moons." Sigh...pure poetry.

Mardougrrl said...

So much LOVE for this story! Honestly HOW in the heck do you always manage to do this to me...to inspire me, to thrill me with your words? You are just so so amazing, Laini. I SO wish I could go up to Portland and sit at your feet.

lisrobbe said...

Loved your tiny story. I will have to read more form your blog when I get the chance. Very inspired.

bb said...

i thought i'd drop by and have a peek at your blog following your kindly words about my 'shoe' poem. wow! this is great!
i love your narrator's desire to dance, her desire to inhabit the movement of her body, to be lost within it. i find it pertinent too that it is cats who watch her- i always find cats so comfortable in their physicality- does it sound odd to say that their bodies seem so *right* for them?
having a good look through your archives is now on my list of must dos!
p.s. (looking at your profile) too right it's our job to make dreams tangible, i'm with you there...

Tammy said...

Wow, you are a very good writer! This was a joy to read and sounded like one my own dancing dreams.
Lovely :)

susanlavonne said...

Your words/stories are delicious! And this one would be the caloric equivalent of chocolate caramel cheesecake :-)

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

mastery of words,Oueen of them all, you who speak beyond our ears, transforming the ordinary into lushious language for the heart! Thank you for this little story that walked in and sat with me.

Jeremy said...

This is so succinct that it makes my shopping lists look decadent. Marvellous,evocative stuff.

eliza said...

man. your gift for evocative language is just so generous. here's a favorite i don't see cited yet: "She dreamed she could move like silk in the wind, like an odalisque’s hips, like willow branches, like jazz shimmying from a clarinet" - thanks for welcoming us in to this rich world week after week. your writing stretches my magic muscles.

la vie en rose said...

i think i need a pair of those shoes!

krista said...

Ha, I'm with La Vie En Rose, I need a pair too.

I loved this story. I felt like I was a fly on the wall, watching her.

cheripop said...

This is lovely. A scrumptious little story to put in my pocket.

harmonyinline said...

Thanks for the link to Kelly.
As allways I loved your story.

Jennifer (she said) said...

this was so great to read. thank you :-) i like tiny stories.

M said...

I love your tiny stories! I can't wait for more of them! I was hoping for some pics of your crazy high heeled shoes you love though!!

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