Helen Lewis and David Ord

Helen Lewis Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Inspiration piece

David Ord Small shoes


He had sat in the garden, on the bench in the corner, for most of the morning, thinking and not thinking in turns, and when he finally went back in, it was as he had remembered.

The house was filled with a hissing silence, as if every sound the walls had absorbed over the years – every laugh, curse, sob and moan – was being released in one endless sigh. He wondered for a moment if he was simply listening to his own circulation, and if there would ever be true silence again until his heart stopped.

Like a dreamer, he chose the clothes – a white summer dress, brand new underwear, still in its M&S packaging. A tiny silver pendant that had been a birthday gift from Caitlin. And the red shoes. Of course.  He dumped everything on the passenger seat, and tried not to glance at the little pile as he drove.

“I wasn’t sure what to bring,” he said, laying the bundle on the counter. “I don’t have to do this very often.” He shrugged. The receptionist was kind, but had seen it all before. “Don’t worry, that’ll be fine,” she said.

She hesitated, and looked up at him, suddenly apologetic. “We don’t really need those” she said, nodding towards the shoes. “We can’t…the feet swell up, you see.”

His face felt like stone, but whatever expression was on there was enough to make her eyes fill with tears. Soft-hearted, tactless girl, he thought. You’re not cut out for this job. “I’m very sorry”, she said, and meant it, but he couldn’t answer.

It wasn’t until he was back in the deafening quiet of the house and he had put the little red shoes back in the wardrobe that he allowed himself to cry.



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