Here is a story I wrote for the first year of uni back in 2010 – I hope you enjoy it.
Can you guess who the brothers are? 🙂
We splutter as the water hits our faces and the mist ricochets away over the garden. We feel fairly high up, and when the mud is rinsed from our eyes, we notice we are raised by about four feet. Heights always make us uncomfortable, but we’re tough enough not to complain. Placed gently onto the pavement, to bask in the sunlight, we watch as Henrietta trots up the steps and into the back door.
Chuck looks over to Bud, the younger brother by three minutes.
“Good day, huh? Never get tired of that grass hill”
“Could have done another ten laps” Bud chuckles “To think, we’ve only been with Charlie a few months, that kid never stops. We got lucky dontcha think?”
Perhaps we should start from the beginning, give you a little heads up of Charlie, the family, and, well, us.
Jennifer’s a ten-year-old budding ballet performer and loves to chat. We’re often in the hallway earwigging on the gossip, or catching up on what we’ve missed from Polly and Anna.
Henrietta’s her Mum, somewhere in her late thirties, she’s always shoving a duster in our faces.
Michael’s the Dad, a mid forties businessman who’s always out of the house on trips or keeping fit as part of his daily routine.
And then we come to Charlie. Well, Charlie’s a little monkey, seven years old and starting life in Junior School. That’s where we come in.
You see; we’re his shoes.
We go through the rough and tumble of a normal school day, our undersides gripping on the coarse gravel, thumping in the puddles, or sliding on the polished floorboards in the assembly hall.
So that’s how we ended up here, drying off. The water around us is starting to evaporate, and the sun is going down. A slam grabs our attention, and as we look up, Jennifer is coming towards us.
“Ewww, Mum! Do I have to touch his smelly shoes?” She’s holding us tentatively with the tips of her fingers.
“That’s the smell of a good workout”, Bud huffs to Chuck.
After about a minute of being held at arm’s length, we’ve been put on the metal rack next to Polly and Anna. Polly and Anna are Jennifer’s ballet shoes, they’re older than us but by no means show it. Perhaps it’s because they’re used more gently. We can hear whispering from the other shoes, and it sounds distressed and chaotic. We prick up our ears to listen in.
“…wheelie bin?! W..Why?” One of the smaller shoes whimpered.
“The pin pierced him too severely. When Michael took it out, the hole was too big.” says Herman. He coughs and a small plume of dust blows out.
“Yesterday he came in from his jog and the rain had soaked right through, gave him a soggy sock. Said he’d get hypothermia if he carried that on”, Harvey continues.
Then it clicks. Jasper and Jake, they’ve not come back after Michael came home from the run. Oh no.
This is what happens to us shoes sometimes, a small injury causes mayhem. We’re thrown into the darkness of the wheelie bin, but what happens later no one knows. People don’t seem to want to fix us; they toss us away as though we don’t matter.
Our eyes close, and we sleep the thought away.
We wake up can see the sun is high in the sky through the small window near the rack. It’s a bit late isn’t it? Shouldn’t we be out by now? We ponder.
“Psst, it’s Christmas break guys” Harvey whispers from above. He must have noticed our concerned expressions. He’s so wise. He and Herman have been in the same spot for years. They watch as life goes by, as we go out and come back, and as old or injured shoes are taken away. I guess we’ll be doing the same for a couple of weeks!
As the days go by, we do as Herman and Harvey do. We watch as Polly and Anna go dancing, we chat and gossip, watch the birds in the tree out the window, laugh as Jennifer and Charlie squabble over silly things. We watch as gifts are exchanged, and listen the whoops and giggles on Christmas Day.
The lack of exercise has made us feel unfit and sluggish but now the festivities are over, school has started once again.
On a brisk, snowy morning in January, Henrietta mopes downstairs in her new dressing gown, slowly followed by Charlie and Jennifer, yawning and wiping the sleep from their eyes. The smell of porridge drifts through the house and after an hour or so of getting ready, Charlie bounds towards us, the porridge obviously waking him up! We are grabbed with force and tightly strapped onto Charlie’s feet. Looking at each other, we smirk with joy and mischief, waiting for the day to unfold.
The morning is slow, and we try to stretch ourselves out whenever we can. Outside play isn’t very long as the snow was slippery and had some ice underneath in places. The wet grass soaks our leather uppers sending chills through us, but when we were inside the radiators bring a welcome warmth, heating us up and drying us out like face masks. A ‘pop’ comes from Bud.
“You alright mate?” Chuck queries.
“Yeah” Bud chuckles “Must be getting old, my hip just cracked!”
As lunchtime comes Charlie sits fidgeting in his seat while he eats, and we speak to the other children’s shoes as we swing around. One of them has noticed Bud has a slight crack forming, to which he casually shrugs it off. “I tell ya, I’m getting old” he winks.
Today the snow has turned to slush, and whenever Charlie is still, we huddle next to each other to help the water dry. When we get home, Henrietta has turned the radio on in the kitchen, as to hear the weather. Ice has been predicted for tomorrow, and at the sound she shudders as she put the pots away. A key rattles in the lock and Henrietta turns around right as Jennifer bursts in, swirling and twirling, arms poised and flowing. She floats into the kitchen and thrusts a piece of paper in her Mother’s face, a big grin flourished across her own. Michael chuckles as he locks the door and hangs his hat up.
“Oh sweetie that’s brilliant!” Henrietta exclaims. “Charlie! Come downstairs and see Jennifer’s certificate!”
As Charlie runs down to see the commotion, Jennifer sits and gently takes her ballet pumps off, and places them next to Chuck and Bud.
“Hey guys,” we said to Polly and Anna.
“Phew, we’re exhausted” they pant in reply.
As predicted, today has brought ice with it. It glitters in the morning sunlight, and off we go to school. We jump on twigs, breaking them each time, and crunch on fallen leaves. Chuck lands on a patch of ice and skids. “Woah!” Charlie cries as his arms fly backwards and his legs jolt. Bud looks over to Chuck, “grip, grip!!” he yells. Chuck strains and grips the ice, steadying Charlie in the process.
“You ok honey?” Henrietta releases her grip from her son’s arm.
“Yeah.” He replies and giggles, “My legs looked like a cartoon character!”
Chuck is proud of himself and as he looks at Bud, he flashes a cheeky grin his way.
Bud’s side aches, and he notices the crack has opened in the struggle. It is quite a large split, but Bud doesn’t worry.
The day is fairly boring, the children don’t go outside for fear of slipping, and the classes are monotonous. The school bell rings at 3:30 and everyone leaves. Charlie meets Henrietta at the gate and ambles home, careful not to walk in too many of the puddles left from the melted ice.
As they step inside, Charlie sits on the stairs to take us off. Bud winces in pain as he’s put on the ground to wait for Chuck to join. Charlie groans. “Mum I have a wet sock!” he exclaims, taking his sock off and throwing it in his Mother’s direction, “My foot’s cold!”
“Oh dear, how’s that happened?” She says, throwing the sock back. Charlie picks us up and twists us around.
“There” he pointed, “a hole”
Henrietta pulls Bud from Charlie’s hand to get a better look. She huffs.
“That’s not a good sign” Bud sighs woefully.
“I thought you said you were fine!” Chuck snaps.
We are put back down on the rack, and listen as a discussion of new school shoes drifted into the living room. Polly and Anna must have heard too.
“Let us see!” They peer across towards us, and their expression doesn’t fill us with hope. “No” they whisper, sinking back to their seat.
With no time for the news to sink in, Michael shoos Charlie into the hallway to get his coat. “Must be quick” he calls, “the shop closes soon”, and they are gone.
Chuck senses Bud is upset.
“Hey” he nudges. “Whatever happens we’ll stick together, you know that.” He snuggles in to his brother to give comfort.
“Erm, guys.” Harvey says, a sprinkle of dust falling to the ground as he leans over to see us. “I regret to say this but I think the jig is up” the words fall on deaf ears and sink into the carpet like the dust.
A panicked hush comes from everyone, and whispers of concern are exchanged. We stare out blankly, not really knowing what to do.
“I guess we should say goodbye” Bud breaks the silence.
“No!” Chuck responds, “We’re going nowhere. They’ve probably gone to get some glue or something” Chuck knows his words are a lie, and that Bud mostly likely agrees, but it is the only way he feels the situation can be calmed, and that hope can be restored in his brother.
The shoes calm and silence fills the hallway, a feeling of reflection choking the atmosphere.
Soon, Father and Son are back, wielding a thick, square shaped carrier bag. They go into the living room, and after a couple of minutes, Henrietta appears with two shiny black shoes. We can hear as jaws drop and hit the ground. We are picked up with one hand, and with the other, replaced by the new guys. We look at each other doubted, and call goodbye as we are whisked away towards the back door. Polly and Anna shed tears, Harvey and Herman give looks of sadness and they all reply with words of love. Henrietta trots down the stairs from the door out towards the wheelie bin. As we see it we feel sick with terror. We don’t know what is to come. The lid is opened, and a thick stench rolls out and up into our nostrils. We’re thrown in and fall on a black bin bag that cushions our blow. As the lid falls shut, we see Henrietta turn and walk away through the thin slither of light, and then, blackness.
“I’m so sorry, I’ve let us down” Bud calls over to Chuck, a hint of anger in his voice.
Slowly, we fall asleep through sheer exhaustion of the day’s events.
We wake up by a jolt as we slide and hit the side of the bin. Loud sounds of hissing and scraping are muffled outside. Sounds of things falling and crashing join, along with crunching. The bin is grabbed with some force, and we feel it tip upside down. As it does, the lid swings open fiercely, and we plummet into a pile of rubbish. The rest of the bin’s contents fall on our heads, and the sound of the truck going into gear echoes towards us. The truck moves forward, but not very much, and the process that has just happened to us repeated. We are buried underneath more and more rubbish, it is suffocating and smelly and we’re growing scared. Eventually, the hoards of rubbish stops falling on our heads, and we feel the truck drive smoothly for what must be a few miles. The smell is overwhelming, and we almost pass out but adrenaline keeps us from doing so. The truck jerks to a holt, and the contents of our holding shift forwards abruptly. We can heard more loud mechanical-like sounds, but can’t see anything.
Suddenly, we are tipped upright and everything around us starts falling out. We quickly see a flash of light, but then rubbish bags surround us again. We’re being tipped out! As we toss and tumble, we see the horizon. It isn’t pretty. Tonnes of rubbish all piled high, black bags tall as mountains puncture the skyline; rats scurry along to move out the way of the falling debris, and seagulls cry above us. We crash into the pile, and the truck grunts and drives away.
Before we’ve watched that enough for it to become a small dot, a much larger vehicle ploughs towards us. This time, it is a bulldozer and it looks mean. A huge silver, grubby blade is rocketing our way. It crashes into us and shoves us into a humongous pit; it pushes us right to the other end, and then repeats itself with other piles of waste. The pit is deep, and now it is full. We are the final layer, our bodies exposed to the harsh winter weather.
The same bulldozer comes back, this time heaving a mound of soil towards us.
“Chuck” Bud whimpers, “I’m ashamed to say this but, I’m really scared”
“Me too Buddy, me too.” Chuck replies, his voice trembling.
We swallow and watch as soil covers the pile from the far end, gradually coming our way. The vehicle rolls over each patch as it goes, crushing and flattening it on its bombardment.
We are going to be buried!
It takes what feels like a lifetime for the ‘dozer to get to us, and when it does thuds of soil scattering around us fill the air. We huddle up, scared to look at our fate.
Plucking up the courage, we turn and eye the great beast above us. Huffing and grunting like an angry bull, it’s blade full of soil waiting to fall. It moves, and soil starts tumbling towards us.
It falls in our eyes and all around us.
“Goodbye, I love you” we cough as all goes black.