The Red Shoes*

* This is the story of The Red Shoes in what I remember of the words I read two days ago in Women Who Run with the Wolves. The Story has been addressed in so many forms before, one of the most known was by Hans Christian Andersen


The poor little girl had no shoes, but she was not desperate; instead, she was creative and made her very own red handmade shoes from scraps of cloth she found here and there. They definitely weren’t fancy, but they gave her a sense of pride and richness that made up for how uncared for she was.

The old woman took her in for shelter, food, clothes, and all the luxuries that come with decent life. She was cleaned up, groomed and well-dressed, but she lost her red hand-made shoes because they were deemed filthy and inappropriate. From that day on she was taught the proper manners and behaviors of her new status to which she submitted, but the fire of yearning to what was her own kept burning.

One day she was out with the old lady to buy a new pair of shoes. Taking advantage of the old lady’s poor sight and inability to tell colors in addition to the shoemaker’s sneaky assistance, she picked the most beautiful patent red shoes her eyes had laid eyes on; they were enchanting, and they reminded her of her old raggedy shoes that she so dearly missed. But patent red shoes were never meant to step in a church, so she was judged and criticized for wearing them, and the old lady was told of the color of those shoes, which led her to forbid the girl from ever wearing them again, only making the girl want them even more.

Despite the warnings, she wore the shoes to church again betting that the old lady wouldn’t notice the color that time either. Walking to the church, the old soldier offered to polish her shoes and somehow seemed to have put a spell on them making them even more captivating to her eyes that no choirs and no service was good enough to take her attention off her beautiful shoes. On her way out, the old soldier cast his final spell deeming those shoes to be best for ­dancing.

The moment she twirled, it was like her shoes had a life of its own making her feet so light that she felt she could dance for eternity. The old lady and the carriage man held her down so that they would take those shoes off her feet despite all the kicking and screaming. The old lady was angry and decided to banish those devilish red shoes beyond the girl’s reach forbidding her to ever lay hands on them again.

But naturally, something would always happen, and soon enough the old lady would fall sick and the girl would sneak and get those shoes and put them on fulfilling her unending desire… and the moment she puts them on, she dances. She dances and dances, happily, joyfully… until she decided to dance right, but the shoes would only dance to the left (or was it the other way around?!). At first she doesn’t care; isn’t she dancing after all?! But then she tires, but the shoes did not tire… that was when she realized that all along it was the shoes that were dancing her, not the other way around. She tries to stop, she tries to take them off, but it was too late, she couldn’t stand still long enough to be in control.

The dancing to which she once yearned was now a curse; her steps were no longer graceful, they were wobbly and tired, not to mention desperate. She was cursed to dance to her doom. She begged the executioner to cut off the shoe buckle so that she’d free her poor feet from the scary shoes, but even when he did, the shoes would not go off. She eventually asked the executioner to cut off her feet so that she’d have her life back… and so he did, granting her her life back, but as a crippled…

I never had a handmade shoes when I let myself put on the bloody ones. All I had was a mysterious yearning for something I never had, and my instincts were battered after years of conformity. I ran away from what I created with my own hands into that which was available and ready, because I feared loss, because I judged my creation, not knowing that by doing so I risked losing the only shoes that fit me by risking getting my feet cut.

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~ by insomniac on September 18, 2010.

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