A MILE IN HER SHOES
“Are you sure I can’t get you a size bigger?”
“No,” Leslie grunted and used both hands. She reached under and extended her long leg forcefully. “I can do it. It’s…I’ve almost got it.”
Leslie’s heel cleared the back of the strappy shoe. The effort had coaxed glistening color into her face, but she looked triumphant. She pushed her shoulder-length red curls behind her and carefully placed both feet on the floor. She admired the red leather that hugged her perfectly-French-manicured toes. She ignored the flesh that bulged over the open-toe sandal strap and shifted her weight onto both feet carefully. She suppressed a wince and teetered to a standing position. The shoe salesman eyed her from the legs up. He flushed and looked down at the empty box when she glanced at him. Painfully, Leslie walked to the mirror to admire her feet. Her red curls flew back around her like a cape when she whirled around to face the shoe salesman.
“I’ll take them,” she said. Leslie wobbled back to her chair and watched the customer next to her stack her own boxes on top of one another. She was a bubbly, perky brunette with little perky breasts. Her voice skipped across the air like a pebble across a pond.
“O.M.G! Babe, I have to have these! They are too cute!” The girl clutched the box to her chest and sizzled with energy. Her boyfriend had draped himself listlessly over a chair and looked at her without expression. The girl let out a little squeal and eyed her other boxes like a child on Christmas morning.
“Baby love, I can’t put any of these back! Look at these!”
Leslie watched her and sunk a little deeper in her chair. Why did girls like her always make Leslie want to disappear? She looked down at her large feet – two long planks that held up her tall, curvy, large-boned frame – and pried her feet out of the shoes.
“Shall I ring these up for you?” the salesman said eagerly without looking her in the eye.
“I don’t know, Miguel,” Leslie said, slouching in her chair, “Maybe I should look around. Will you hold these at the cash register for me?”
“Of course, Miss Leslie, of course,” Miguel held the shoe box open as if it contained an engagement ring and watched Leslie walk listlessly over to the display racks. Miguel stole a quick peek at her shapely bottom then rushed, flustered, to the cash register.
Leslie walked, barefooted, over to the display area and chose a black pump with kitten heels. She eyed the price quickly then called out to Miguel to bring them in a 9 ½. Miguel disappeared into the back while Leslie continued to browse. She couldn’t figure out why her weekly retail therapy wasn’t working today. She remembered her blind date last night and shook her head in a tiny shudder.
“Babe, I’ll be right back!” The perky brunette shook Leslie out of her reverie. “I have to see if those beige sling-backs are still at Macy’s! Wouldn’t I look craze-amaze in those?” The girl’s boyfriend smiled thinly at her and nodded. He adjusted his expensive blazer and ran a hand through his hair before going back to playing with his phone. Leslie watched the girl leave and then stared at her boyfriend. He was kind of cute, in an arrogant, frat-boy kind of way. He seemed only a couple of inches taller than Leslie – six foot one, probably – but here he was with a girl barely five-two, petite. And Leslie was the “big girl”. Always and forever the big girl. Tall. Not fat, but not skinny. They always go for the tiny ones, right? God, where was Miguel with those shoes?
Leslie hadn’t noticed that the boyfriend was staring at her. She caught his eye and visibly jumped. He smirked and went back to his phone. Just then Miguel came out with three boxes.
“Miss Leslie, I took the liberty of bringing some others. Do you mind it?” Miguel looked up at Leslie with wonder on his face. Leslie shook her head.
“No, Miguel, that’s fine,” she said.
Leslie opened all three boxes to see what Miguel had brought. The first box contained her size 9 ½ black kitten heels. The second box contained a second pair of black kitten heels and the third box contained the beautiful red shoes she’d tried on earlier. Confused, she looked up at the cash register and saw the shoes Miguel had reserved for her. She turned over the box of the duplicates and her heart sank: 10 ½. What? Leslie flushed and looked up at Miguel, who stared at his shoes. She started to say something, then remembered the smirking boyfriend and held her tongue. She tossed her hair and tried on the shoes she had asked for.
As she squeezed into the pointy-toed pumps, she felt the eyes of the boyfriend drilling into the side of her head. Flustered, she pushed herself into the shoes and stood up – too quickly. Teetering, she almost crashed back into the chair but Miguel caught her and lovingly brought her to a standing position. She ignored the boyfriend and walked towards the mirror in the vice grip of the shoes. Before she had made it to the mirror, the boyfriend opened his mouth.
“Those are too small, dude.”
Both Miguel and Leslie snapped their heads towards him. “What?” Leslie said.
The boyfriend shrugged his shoulders and went back to his phone. Still looking at his phone, he answered her. “I’m just saying, your feet are bigger than those shoes.”
Mortified, Leslie said nothing and wobbled back to her chair. Miguel glared at the boyfriend and then turned his attention towards Leslie.
“Miss Leslie, let me try this one for you,” Miguel said quickly. While Leslie sat there stunned, Miguel snatched the strained black shoes from both feet and eased the larger red one onto her right foot. Immediately, Leslie felt the coolness of the sole and the cradling of the straps over her feet. Despite herself, she pushed her other foot towards Miguel and he fastened both shoes with gentle care. Leslie stood up and walked towards the mirror with both men watching. Miguel sighed.
“Better,” said the boyfriend.
“Who the hell are you? What gives you the right to say that to me?” Leslie said.
The boyfriend eyed her patiently. “You’re a hot chick, dude. You’re tall, got a nice rack, rocking red hair. Why you chicks like to squeeze your asses into shoes too small for you is beyond me. But whatever.” Bored, the boyfriend went back to his phone.
Just then, the perky brunette rushed back in like a tornado. “Babe, they’re still there. We’ve got to hit Macy’s after this. And call Gina so she and Greg can meet us down here for lunch!” The boyfriend nodded while the brunette stacked her boxes.
Leslie took off the giant beautiful red pumps and slowly returned them to their box. She gathered up two of the boxes and told Miguel she was ready. Miguel met her at the cash register. Leslie looked back at where she was sitting and saw the too-tight shoes still sitting there, rejected. She caught the eye of the boyfriend and he winked at her. She rolled her eyes at him in disgust and mumbled “Asshole” under her breath. But as she reached for her wallet, she shook her head and smiled.