It’s been a while since I shared my creative writing, so here is a very short piece to remember a bit of summer as we move into fall. I hope you enjoy.
Vivian’s Water Shoes
The wild horses at Corolla Beach trampled Vivian at two on a Wednesday, knocking her right out of her neon pink water shoes.
Locals and onlookers reported the horses came in a grouping of eight nearly noiselessly over a hill, perhaps spooked by a Copperhead snake slithering through the dune grasses. The source of their stampede was only speculation. Vivian never saw them coming.
After the emergency services ambulance drove away down the beach without its siren or lights pulsing, Poe found Vivian’s shoes off beyond where the crowd had gathered. He placed them on the fence in memorial.
Vivian was not a fan of the wild animals. She was the only local to insist someone round them up and fence them in. It annoyed her to find them chewing at her window screens or leaving huge piles of horse apples on her sand driveway. It seemed they liked her yard best. It was possible the horses knew her dislike for them.
After the accident, the footwear stayed on top of the wooden slats for two weeks. Then one morning they disappeared. Some uninformed and entitled mainlander probably assumed the water shoes were carelessly left behind after a day at the ocean and snatched them up. I watched the tourists’ feet for an opportunity to reveal the truth and witness the shoe stealer squirm at the realization of wearing a dead woman’s shoes. More correctly, the shoes Vivian wore while she died. Poe and I, over considerable speculation and copious amounts of canned Beergarita’s on the deck, never did determine the exact moment Vivian drew her last breath. It might have been when the horses made contact or when she tumbled to the sand.
Either way, I was not prepared to find the pink slip-ons on Uncle Greg’s feet a few days later when we arrived at his home for the weekly shrimp boil dinner.
Uncle Greg was a large behemoth of a man. Strangers shrank back when he entered a room and it was easy to confuse him with Andre the Giant. His girth was nearly equal to his height, with the skin of his abundant belly stretched to rock-like hardness. The outcropping of salt and pepper hair on top of his cranium added another three inches.
That day, along with his faded and torn Corolla Beach t-shirt and fraying cargo shorts, he brazenly wore the water shoes as if either it didn’t matter to him they were neon pink or that they came straight off the feet of his dead friend. Watching him trot around the beach house in the pink footwear was disturbing.
“How big were Vivian’s feet?” I whispered, leaning toward Poe as we sat on Adirondack chairs with our soggy paper plates precariously perched on our knees. Beers sweated on the porch floor next to us.
Poe shrugged, nibbled at a corncob and eyed the footwear. “Bigger than average it appears.”
In her later years, Vivian’s skin puffed like delectable sourdough bread tinged with a slight pink sunburn, but she was never large. Living at the beach, she refused to accept her Irish heritage would not allow her skin to brown like those of us who came from Mediterranean roots. She stayed in the sun all day in her flowery one-piece and wide-brimmed straw hat. The water shoes kept her feet from burning on the sand during her midday walk.
With a loud grunt, Uncle Greg flopped down into the chair on the other side of Poe and set one ankle on the other knee. He tapped his foot to a silent beat as he gnawed on a buttery cob of corn.
Poe and I stared at the pink shoe waving at us in its neon glory.
Uncle Greg eyed us, looked at where we were focused and frowned. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said, “She had the biggest feet I ever saw on a woman.”
Poe and I waited.
“She walked here every day. Had our afternoon delight.”
I choked on my shrimp while Poe simultaneously spit out the beer he just sipped.
“It wasn’t love, but she was a good friend. Sometimes at my age, that’s all one needs.” Uncle Greg popped a shrimp into his mouth and after carefully working it, spit the tail onto his plate.
Uncle Greg shrugged as he extended his legs and eyeballed the neon pink water shoes. “I just wish Vivian’s favorite color had been blue.”
# # #