In the forest, where all the trails leading back to the city were faded, I lost one of my high heels as I trudged through a boggy marsh on a drunken escapade. After blasting my frontal lobe with whiskey sours all night, I stumbled around aimlessly as my friends’ cackles merged into the night sky.
I slumped against the base of a tree, my head swimming. Then I was struck by an insatiable hunger, so I reached into my handbag and found a pack of half-eaten biscuits. I polished them off in seconds and craved for more. I passed out soon after.
When I woke there was no sign of my friends, my mouth was dry and my body ached. But I felt a sense of hope as dappled sunshine filtered through the forest leaves.
Eventually I found a faint weathered path leading out of the maze of trees. I limped to a bus stop on an otherwise deserted highway.
On the bus into town, the memory of the forest still playing heavily on my mind, I decided to search for my shoe as if it was my only purpose in life. I would return to the forest, this time with my friends in tow and we’d be sober to boot.
But first I had to eat.
Perched on a low wall outside of a fried chicken shop, enjoying the balmy spring weather, I guzzled down some crispy chicken wings. Then something in the car park across the street caught my eye. There was a single off-white tennis shoe—its laces dirty and untied—lying desolately on the concrete.
Once I’d cleaned my greasy hands and face with a wet wipe, I crossed the busy road to find the shoe in the car park. But on closer inspection it had gone. I scoured the area, even under cars and by the pavement, but to no avail. Then I noticed on a small patch of ground, written in black magic marker, the words: www.missing-shoe.com.
When I got home the first thing I did, before browsing the web or even charging my phone, was eat. Despite having filled my belly only recently, I raided the fridge for anything I could find.
I made a ham and cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard. I boiled three eggs and dipped them in Thai sweet chilli sauce, then finally polished off a pastry along with a big bag of cheese nachos. I still felt hungry but I told myself I had to stop.
As I charged my phone, which had long since died, I searched the web for the address I had found printed in the car park.
The website was amateurish and sparse to say the least. It consisted of a pure black screen with an address and the words, “Come find your lost possession”, written in block capitals.
A ridiculous thought entered my mind: this website looked like it was designed by a serial killer—and yet, nevertheless, it captured my imagination and I wanted to know more.
Then I checked for messages on my phone and discovered none of my so-called friends had tried to contact me, that clearly none of them were concerned about my safety when I could have been in genuine danger, lost in the middle of nowhere throughout the night.
It was at that moment, without a thought for my safety, that I went to find the address on the Missing Shoe website.
I tracked down a bungalow located on the edge of town, equidistant from my home and the forest. A man opened the front door and the first thing I noticed was the row of multicoloured precious stones lining his fingers. He was taller than me but not excessively so. I warmed to him immediately—he had kind, penetrating eyes and a charming reluctance to meet my gaze. It was only later that I realised he hadn’t revealed his name.
He showed me into his kitchen without a word. A plate of fried sausages, bacon and hash browns smothered in ketchup lay half-eaten on his plate. He took a seat and carried on chomping away.
After what seemed an age, the man wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said, “I guess you found my website and you’re wondering what’s going on. Well, there’s not really much to say except that over the years I have been drawn to lost shoes, or maybe I should say, they’ve been drawn to me. Come.”
He ushered me into a room with white laminate flooring and bare walls. As I looked around, all I could hear was rhythmic breathing—his and mine. Opening a walk-in closet, I saw dozens of single shoes stacked like offerings at a temple.
And there, lying on a high shelf, caked in mud, was my own missing shoe. Contemplating the heel at that moment I realised it wasn’t distinctive in any way, just an ordinary mass-produced shoe that any businesswoman might wear.
“You followed me,” I said.
“No, that’s not true.”
“Then how do you explain this,” I said holding my shoe aloft, “huh?”
“You’ll have to just believe me. I feel a connection with these lost items unlike anything else. Because each one has a story, just like their owners. Listen, I want your help,” he whispered against my neck in an almost threatening tone, smelling of burnt fat, “Come with me and return these strays to their true homes.”
As the man placed a gentle hand upon my shoulder, I felt a sense of intimacy I had rarely experienced before. I didn’t question what he had said, but my knees almost buckled, and I knew I would do whatever he asked of me. Without hesitation.
by Ricky Garni
... They say Dave Brubeck but come on / what you really hear all the time is / Paul Desmond, saxophone ...
2 + 2 = Ok, me
by Andrew Felsher
... Say Ok I’ll Name that / Unfortunately then / build a container / made of sand ...