Sometimes I like to expand upon an actual memory- this is an example of what one snippet developed into.
“Can I take the silver pumps?”
My mom turned her face in my direction, the corners of her mouth pulled down by weariness. “No, honey,” she replied. “You can’t walk in them.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Yeah, I can. They just kind of slip off my ankles when I walk up the stairs.”
She shook her head and wordlessly grabbed the pumps, returning them to their rightful place in the dark depths of my closet. “It was a mistake to get them in a size larger,” she mused. “You’re sixteen. Your feet won’t grow much more.”
I reached for a neon pink t-shirt and folded it in a haphazard manner. “They might. I haven’t had a proper growth spurt yet.”
She took the shirt from me and shook out the creases I’d put in. “Yes, you have. You’re not going to be as tall as I am—frankly, you wouldn’t want to.”
I watched as she re-folded the shirt and slid it into a Ziploc bag. My mother is probably the most organized person ever to grace the planet. She packs my stuff in plastic bags and prints out sticky labels for them. The idea is that when I come to pack for things, I can lay all the bags out and tick off the labels so I don’t forget anything. Ever since my cousin went to a three day camp without a tooth brush, she’s been kind of paranoid that I’m going to forget something equally necessary. Like underwear, or orthodontic floss.
“I don’t want to be the midget of the family,” I muttered, reaching for the little Japanese boxes I keep my jewelery in. “It’s such a let down to always be shorter than your mother.”
She gave me a disbelieving look as I dug around for extra earring backs. “Do you really want to be over six feet tall?”
I shrugged. “No, but I don’t want to stay five foot six, either.” Then I perked up. “Actually, it’s fine. I’ll just wear four inch heels at family functions.”
My mother snorted. “And break your ankles,” she reminded me.
I scowled. “Whatever.”
She snatched the little bag of jewelery from me and plunked it on top of the pile of plastic bags sitting neatly in my suitcase. “That’s everything. I’m going to bed. Don’t stay up too late with your laptop, okay?”
“I won’t.” It was an empty promise, and once she’d gotten to her feet she gave me a knowing look before heading out the door.
Once it slammed behind her I forced myself to return the earrings and other random paraphernalia to the little lacquered box which I slid onto a shelf in my cupboard. As I stepped back from it, a glint of silver caught my eye and I squinted in the half light, trying to make out the object that had startled me.
It wasn’t one item but a pair, the too-large silver pumps that my mom had bought for a ‘when your feet grow’ that never arrived. They sat shiny and flawless in their miniature cavern, and I suddenly felt guilty for not growing into them. They’d probably sit here for a good five years until my sister was big enough to wear them—and might even be rejected then, because I strongly suspected that her obsession with pink was going to be a life long one.
They would sit in the closet until their judgement day arrived, abandoned and somehow betrayed by the fact that I was born premature and would never grow feet big enough to free them from their imprisonment. I slammed the closet door shut then, unable to deal with the fact that I was feeling sorry for a pair of shoes. I really must have been tired.
I crawled under my covers, unwilling to glue my eyes to my laptop screen and watch another episode of Heroes. My shoe-guilt had somehow made me tired, but I couldn’t get to sleep. It felt like the pumps were watching me from the cupboard.