She left her shoes, she took everything else, her toothbrush, her clothes, and even that stupid little silver vase on the table we kept candy in. Just dumped it out on the table and took the vase. The tiny apartment we shared seemed different now, her stuff was gone, it wasn’t much really, although now the room seemed like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing, incomplete. The closet seemed empty too; most of it was her stuff anyway. But there they were at the bottom, piled up like they usually were, every single one of them. Why did she leave her shoes? She couldn’t have forgotten them, I knew too well that she took great pride in her shoe collection, but there they still were, right down to her favorite pair of sandals. They were black with a design etched into the wide band that stretched across the top of them, the soles scuffed and worn; a delicate imprint of where her toes rested was visible in the soft fabric.
It seemed funny to me, she walked out of my life without her shoes, is that irony, or am I thinking of something else? In a way I was glad they were still here, she would have to come back for them, right? I mean how could she go on with the rest of her life without her shoes? But she’s not coming back, I know she isn’t, she would rather walk barefoot over glass than have to see me again. But Christ she left all of her shoes! All of them, every sneaker, boot and sandal, every high heel and clog, every flip-flop. What do I do? Do I leave them here, or bag them up and throw them in the trash? Do I look at them every morning when I get dressed and wonder why she left them? She knew it, she knows what’s she’s doing. I can’t throw them out for fear she may return for them someday. I can’t be rid of myself of her completely with all her shoes still in my life, can’t dispose of them or the person that walked in them.
Her shoes, leaving a deep footprint on my heart, I can’t sweep it away. All I can do is stare at them and wonder, stare at their laces and straps their buttons and tread. They still connect me to her though, in some distant bizarre way they do. I can remember the good times we had, what pair she was wearing at that moment in time. They are hers and no else’s, she wore down the heels, and she scuffed their sides, it’s her fragile footprint imbedded on the insole. I sit on the floor next to them and wonder how many places had she gone while wearing these shoes, how many miles she walked in them, what pair was she wearing when she decided to leave me? I pick up a high heel she often wore and absently smell it, it’s not disgusting I think, it’s just the last tangible link I have to her. The last bit of reality I have of her. She left her shoes; she took everything else, except her shoes. They remain at the bottom of my closet, a shrine to her memory.