#53 Cursed Soles

by Karla Tanay

I didn't know it was possible to hate linoleum, but I learned fast.

I had to carry the boxes up the stairs. No elevator. They called it hip. I called it the cheapest one bedroom in the nicest part of town. The tenants were a mix of ages, all students of the world. It wasn't a bad place, but for the flooring. It gave me away the moment I stepped through the door and on every trek back and forth to the car. I wanted to scream, like that painting. That's what my soul felt the instant my shoe touched the floor.

A squeak followed by blinding terror.

You can tell how poor a man is by the sound his shoes make in the hall. Those Walmart rubber soles. The tenants here might look thrift store, but they don't wear slave shoes. They have an image to maintain. I see the Toms. I can't afford self-respect right now.

I would have suffered the final carry with humility, and after, changed into an ancient pair of Birks. My plan was thwarted when she appeared on the stair. I froze, panicked by her beauty and the shoes on my feet. She nodded and smiled, but I had to step aside to let her pass. My shoe squeaked and I swear it echoed to eternity. I died inside. She kept walking out the door. I cursed myself and the flooring. The linoleum, uncaring, mocked me all the way down the hall.

2 comments:

Deb said...

I really like this story, and love "I wanted to scream, like that painting." Great line!

CR said...

Love that opening line!