By Caitlin Hoffman
I’m your shoe.
“And what does that mean?”
Leaning on the precipice. The gentle, winding curb.
It went purple all around us, and the man beside me (you) smiled. I’m your shoe, and you’re smiling down at me. (It went past, presently.) (Run with it and it will all make sense. I know something about running. I am your shoe, after all.)
You stare down at my slick red-and-white stripes, tickling my laces with tugs and poking at my empty innards with your toes. Sometimes when I sleep at the foot (teehee) of your bed, I shrug off all the dirt and sigh contentedly. I’m glad I’m your shoe and no one else’s.
You tug/tugged on my loose tongue, pat/pat it gentle and sweet. I sneeze and you laugh a little too loud. People (if they are people) take glances while they pass, walking on their oh-so-normal shoes that can’t make jokes, can’t expel rubber-oxygen and certainly don’t know that they are shoes.
“Since when does a shoe sneeze?”
Sometimes my words don’t come out right, but you don’t care. You understand that it’s difficult talking when I don’t really have a mouth, lips, teeth, tongue, vocal chords... or a brain, for that matter.
“You’re so handsome.” you say, breath hot from up above.
Can a shoe be handsome? Perhaps. Perhaps only at certain angles, in particular lighting, or seen through special eyes. Like those wide, gaping, periwinkle blue gelatin-spots staring down at me.
“It’s a better angle to kiss you at.”
“Like a C-section!”
I shouldn’t know that I am your shoe any more than a brain in a vat should know it’s no more than an organ surrounded by formaldehyde or whathaveyou. I may in fact be the most self-aware entity to ever step (teehee) on this earth.
I know I am your shoe and I love knowing it. Knowing is quite simple when you manage to swallow the truth. At least, knowing you’re a shoe is simple. It’s complex to tell you’re a human or feel you’re a human, let alone really know that you’re a human. You may not be human. You may be a lobster with practical feet. You may be a gorilla that likes to shave. I don’t know, and I don’t care.
My knowledge of existing is not based on feeling. I have no neurotransmitters and certainly don’t possess any nerve endings. There is no reason that I should think or be, and there is especially no reason that I should be capable of loving. But I am and I do. I love you, the wearer of this shoe. This man who tucks his sometimes-smelly, always-calloused feet deep into my sole and my soul. (Do I have a soul? Does that determine the true essence of self-awareness? Was a soul mistakenly sewn in my aglets?)
You stood/stand we walk/walked down the street. I love the concrete and how it slaps against the bottom side of me. You always walk gently so as not to wear me down too much. There is no fear in me (well, how could there be? I own no hypothalamus, no adrenaline, no fight or flight response... and I mean really, where on earth would they fit?) when it comes to the scuffing of my fabric or roughing up of my rubber. I am a material object, and all material objects must have an end.
Back at home, she gives you trouble again.
“It’s time to throw that thing out!” she said. “It’s too old!” she said.
I’m too old, she says! She’s far older than me if we’re counting in human years. Humph!
But I don’t worry. Fear is utterly absent. You will protect me and even if you don’t, there will be no pain if I’m thrown in the garbage bin.
I will miss you though. Would it be bad to miss you? Can a sneaker have a sense of ethics? Moral duty? Kantian approaches to punishment? Consequentialist ideals?
“I’m not throwing him out.” you say.
The room rolls red.
“You’re crazy!” she said.
The pillows pulsed pink.
“Or maybe I just see things differently!” you said.
I see saliva slide. (Even though I have no eyes.)
Slipped slowly. Straight from your tongue.
(I have a tongue too...But it can’t taste anything.)
“You’re insane!” she says.
Insane, she says! How is it then that you can hear me and she can’t? Insanity is being torn in a rift from reality. You, on the other hand, are opened up to it. Opened up to areas of the world that few are equipped or inclined to understand. Maybe I don’t have a heart and maybe I don’t have a big appendage like those naked men you look up on the internet, but I do have something that makes me aware, and something else that makes me love you.
You know it too. Every time you slip your foot in, we make love in a strange and absent way, a way that not many people could understand. We’re lucky, you and I. When most people just walk, you and I share an intimate moment.
I watch you from the floor (how can I see when I don’t have rods, cones, a retina, an optic nerve, any of that stuff?) as you pack your bags. Pretty suitcase.
“She’s sending me off to the doctor again.” you say, the man I so love, the man I so love to feel inside of me. “I don’t think they’ll let me wear a shoe in the hospital.”
I do not feel wrong- I feel unright. I can’t be sad but it looks like I’m crying anyway. Shoving liquid through my lace holes.
“Do you think I’m crazy, shoe?”
“Pfft!” I spat up sand. I’m cleaning grooves.
If you’re insane, what am I?
...I guess I’d still be your shoe.
Bio: Caitlin is a mink wearing a suit of human skin. You can follow her depravity @CHWrite on Twitter.