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Words by Jon Anderson
Image by Stephanie Stouffer
After washing and dressing in her best Sunday clothes she sat on the bed and pulled the trunk closer to her. She unlocked it and pulled out a bundle. She unwrapped the bundle and, as every Sunday, her green shoes lay there before her in their entire splendor.
The color of the shoes! No other shoes had this beautiful green. Like the fresh grass, the new grass at the end of the long dry season that the first rains give birth to out of the brown dust. That green that lifts your heart and gives you a smile—the shoes had magically captured that green. No other shoes in the world had quite this shade of green.
And the heels were so cleverly done. Not the heels on the young girls that stand on Mandela Avenue in the evening. No, not heels like that. But not heels like a wash lady either. Heels that subtly underlined her attractiveness and her class, which demanded attention, but not too much attention.
The straps were also not too thin and not too wide. Just right to send the message of lady-likeness. And they had a nice gold buckle on the side.
She put the shoes on her wide brown feet. Sitting on the bed she looked down at them. The green shoes fit perfectly. Maybe her feet were a bit broad and bulged out a little but the shoes fit perfectly anyway.
She took them off, and carried both of them in her right hand.
She was ready. She opened her door and started the walk to church. She felt the warm, smooth earth on the soles of her feet.
She always got to church a bit early so that she could put her shoes near the door. Everyone who came after her would see her green shoes. They would wonder at how beautiful the shoes were and what a special person must wear them!
At the end of the service she stayed a bit longer and gave an extra prayer. She asked God for forgiveness that she had spent most of the service praying that no one would steal her shoes. They were hard to resist, she knew. And staying a bit longer gave the people who left before her time to pick up their brown and worn shoes and admire her green shoes. She knew that God understood beauty and would forgive her.
Walking home she switched the shoes to her left hand so that Amadou, the shopkeeper, would be sure to see them. As she walked by she sensed him looking at her. She kept her back straight and her head facing forward. But maybe out of the corner of her eye she saw him smile and maybe shake his head a little. She would not acknowledge him looking; she was too classy for that. She strode purposely home, the shoes dangling attractively from her hand. Maybe one day Amadou would mention the shoes and then they would start a conversation.
When she got home she sat on her bed and pulled her trunk closer. She put the green shoes on just so that she could look at her feet in them before putting them away. Then she took them off again, wrapped them in the cloth, and put them back in her trunk, and locked it.