In My Shoes: A Short Story for the Holidays
Happy Thanksgiving! The holiday jump starts yet another holiday season. Yes, the holiday–warm and friendly, and stressful, and sometimes not that joyful, not for many people. I don’t often write fiction anymore, but I’d like to share with you a very short story I wrote many, many years ago for an online magazine, on the topic of holidays. The story is called In My Shoes. Hope you enjoy the read.
Thanks for stopping by!
In My Shoes
There’s nothing like coming home for the holidays. The experience reconnects us with our inner selves, as timeless memories come back to live, one by one—the kitchen, alive yet again with familiar scents and useless helpers; my parents’ living room rich with a mixture of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie flavors; the present generation of kids—not me, not my siblings—running around, their steps sending tiny shivers throughout the entire house; my parents with their faces carved by time, yet opened into broad smiles as they savor the masterpiece of their lives, their (our) family. Yet, the masterpiece is slightly chipped. One tiny piece is missing, carved out by a long-gone tragedy everybody has been trying to put behind for years now, yet the drama has been coming back to haunt my family, like a nightmare that doesn’t wanna go away. The chipped surface is almost unnoticeable by now smooth, and soften by time, yet time is not the perfect healer, as some may think. It cannot make the masterpiece perfect, ever again.
I am the missing chip, the reason for the sole imperfection in my family’s otherwise perfect existence. I’m a monster. I can only show myself in the sanctuary of shadows and darkness. I would scare them if I ever showed myself in bright light. I would never put them or myself in this kind of mortal danger. I was trouble enough while I was alive, while I was human. Now, in my second incarnation, I wouldn’t let them know I even exist.
Wobbling my way through the swamp, I hit the shadowy, almost invisible frontier that separates humans from beasts, their territory from ours. I stay there and hold my breath until familiar voices and childhood scents trickle through. I let the sun rays play hide-and-sick on my back through the dying leaves of the forest. The warmth is strong enough to comfort even a cold-blooded creature like myself. I miss the oily texture of the swamp shielding my body like a shadowy veil. I’ll go back soon, resume my new life in the body of my attacker, the beast that engulfed me whole in one bite.
Today, though, I won’t think of that day, because today is a day humans give thanks. And I have to be with my family, even if only from a distance, to give my Thanks.
I’ve learned to ignore my hideous body swirling heavily against the dry land. Maybe it would be better to show myself to them. Let myself be killed, once again…. I wonder…would my body get back to its human shape, once lifeless? I wonder what would my family do then? Would they ever be at peace?