The beach is quiet today, peaceful. Two silver slippers lie discarded on the shingle. The left slipper is mutilated, the upper almost completely separated from the sole. Don’t want to touch those slippers, to disturb this tranquillity, want to pass them by but feel compelled to stop, to listen, perhaps sense a presence, or maybe just register an absence. And if I do pause, pay attention, what then?
‘Then I will tell you this.’
‘What, tell me what?’
I will tell you about those cheap silver slippers, which I wore as a joke. How could I know?
What would happen, what I would become. We found them just as you have. Found them one night, abandoned on the shingle. Someone, I forget who, picked them up ready to toss into the sea but I stopped that happening. Didn’t know why I did that, I do now; it was the slippers.
They laughed, those friends of mine. Pissed themselves at the idea of my feet inside those tiny shoes. Sniggered when I stooped to put them on. Watched as I stood on the shingle saying, will you just look at these, low rent, definitely low rent.
Such cheap, tawdry things, scuffed, scratched, split, as you can see now; vulgar little slippers, but a perfect fit all the same. They might have been made for me. And as I paraded on the shingle, entertaining my friends, I slipped, didn’t stumble, was gripped, supported, heard a low laugh and a voice telling me that I should be so proud to be wearing such beautiful dancing shoes. I recoiled, screamed. My stupid friends did nothing, just sat on the shingle gawking. I imagined, was aware of, felt a hand brushing the slippers. Heard a low voice whispering something about pretty dancing shoes, telling me to be careful, to take very good care, and then it was gone, had disappeared; that voice, presence, whatever, had vanished, if it was ever there, into the night.
I sat silent and shaken; asked someone did that happen, did that really happen? They looked at me, my friends looked at me like I’d lost it. And I looked at my silver slippers reflecting moonlight and it seemed to me that they had changed, been transformed, appeared more elegant and I said, well who the fuck cares anyway we’re here to party and that seemed to break the spell and I began to dance, the slippers began to dance, and I was carried along in their rhythm and I was no longer dancing the shoes were dancing me. Laughter turned to fear turned to terror at the confusion I’d become. Hands clutched at my arms, legs, brought me down held me tight and still the slippers danced and I cried and screamed and in the chaos I heard it, that icy cold voice, saying dance you will dance in your silver slippers until your blood runs cold and you wither and fade and someone had hold of a slipper and was trying to wrench it off my foot and the pain was intense and all I could feel was tearing skin and I screamed and kicked and freed myself and danced and my friends they melted into the night and my liquid silver shoes sparkled like moonlight on dark water.
Those silver sea green slippers danced and danced and danced me into the water and under the waves and still they danced and I no longer wailed and moaned my voice being nothing but salt water and sea foam scattered on the wind because you see I’d mocked them, for the tasteless, gaudy things I thought they were and now they’re yours and you must take good care of those dainty silver slippers, those beautiful silver shoes.
I listen to your trembling voice, to your pain, which you must suffer alone. Listen, to you fading, to the sea gently breathing. This beach is quiet today, tranquil. I think I will leave those two silver slippers to lie where they were abandoned. The left one mutilated, the upper almost completely separated from the sole. I will leave them where they are, for if I do pause, pay attention, what then?
First read at Are You sitting Comfortably, organised by White Rabbit at The Basement, Brighton. 13th. March, 2012. Published by Ether Books in March, 2012.