Black Leather Boots

By Betsy Smith

I open the closet and catch a glimpse of the pink box buried under a pile of Dansko boxes. The longing returns.

The box holds a pair of knee-high black leather boots. Shiny, low heeled with a narrow calf – the leather soft and supple with an intoxicating and expensive scent. I coveted these boots for weeks while conjuring mental images of myself wearing them with a long black skirt, or dark jeans with a crisp white blouse and wool blazer. I take the box out and inhale remembering how I patiently waited for the end-of-season sale allowing such an extravagant purchase. Even the sale price was above my self-imposed limit of $100 for any footwear. When I did buy them, I recall a little bit of pain in my right foot while trying them on, but it did not deter me. I was too in love.

Once the boots were secured, I started my search for the imagined outfits. The long black skirt was quickly found, and a deliciously soft gray and black cashmere sweater discovered on a clearance rack soon followed. Finding the jeans of my imagination was not so easy. My body type, with a protruding mother-of-big-babies belly, was not pretty in a pair of skinny jeans. I looked good in them only from the knees down. Jeans that were more flattering on my physique had wider legs and bunched up at the top of the boots making me look like a Musketeer. It was not the slim, sexy, and sophisticated look I was going for. Maybe leggings and a very long top with a colorful and concealing scarf would work.

I frequently took the boots out to prance around the house wearing them while in my pajamas just to experience the pleasure of owning them. I would put my nose on the leather and sniff. My right foot always reminding me that something was not quite as comfortable as the left.

Summer came and with the warm weather, the boots were put on the bottom of the shoebox pile. Even in lightweight sandals, sneakers, or flip-flops, the pain in my right foot escalated. My eventual inability to walk without crying forced me to see a doctor and ultimately have surgery. The surgery left my right foot bigger than my left; a discovery I made when I finally attempted to put my beautiful boots on while wearing my flowing black skirt and soft sweater. My foot stuck in the shaft and my inflexible plated toe was unable to make the turn. No amount of pulling or shoving was going to work. The boot was every bit as special as a glass slipper and I was clearly an ugly stepsister. I had totally missed the ball.

That was five years ago. Every so often I take the boots out to inhale the scent, put the left one on while wearing my boot-cut jeans, and strut through the house chanting, “All for one, and one for all.”

\"\"M. Betsy Smith began her writing career three years ago after retiring from a career in insurance. This story is the result of a prompt from Jacqueline Sheehan, at a recent Writers in Progress Sunday morning gathering.

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