Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Bruised Shoe

By Haeon Lee, age 12, New York

 

The rough skyline glowed an old paper yellow that faded into a dreary bluish gray as heavy clouds watched over a bored, tired civilization. A patch of bumpy cement lay between the empty road and the old school. It was obvious that once upon a time, bright green saplings had tried to fight their way through the cracks in the cement in vain. The remains of their efforts had been flattened by careless students skipping and stepping on what could have been life. On one of the larger cracks, there sat a black and blue shoe that had supposedly fallen from the sky.

A group of three little boys gathered around the shoe. They peered at the object almost suspiciously, curious and afraid. A cawing crow broke the silence.

“Holy peanut butter, isn’t that a shoe? Right from the sky!” said the first boy.

The second boy’s gaze morphed from fear to admiration. “I bet it’d fit me perfect.”

Unlike the others, the third boy held his suspicious stare. “Shouldn’t we go and tell a teacher? Or put it in the Lost and Found?”

Number 3 had barely finished his sentence before the first two boys turned their heads to widen their eyes at him. They proceeded to complete each other’s sentences.

“Wait a minute. This shoe fell—” began Number 1.

Number 2 interrupted him. “Straight down from what, heaven—”

“And you’re gonna just throw it out—”

They spoke in unison now. “To the Lost and Found?” Number 1 and Number 2 rolled their eyes and sighed.

Number 3 replied in an equally exasperated sigh. He pointed up at the old paper yellow and dreary bluish gray sky, where the darkening clouds yawned in boredom. “Does that look like heaven to you?”

Tension silenced the wind and the air stood silently, cold and dry. Number 3 bent down, picked up the black and blue shoe, and shuffled away to a teacher. Next to the large crack in the cement, Number 1 and Number 2 stood, looking up at the sky.

Inside the old school building with peeling orange walls, a teacher was peering at a little boy holding a black and blue shoe with an inscrutable expression. Number 3 could sense the bleak mood from the teacher and stepped back.

“Well, you see, ma’am, everybody’s saying it fell from the sky. But… but I dunno where the shoe really came from.” Number 3 caressed the shoe in his small arms as if it was his pet.

The teacher was one of experience, and she had long ago found the reality that young stammering boys were unlikely to be telling the truth. She bent down to face Number 3. “Little boy, tell me where that shoe really came from. Don’t worry about getting in trouble. Just tell me what really happened.” Another reality the teacher had accepted was that young stammering boys were likely to be thieves. The shoe that Number 3 gently held to his chest did not give an innocent impression on the teacher.

“But miss, I really dunno. Honest. Maybe somebody threw it off from the big bridge over there. But I can’t tell.” Disappointment darkened over the boy’s face; he was a smart and proud child, and just the action of admitting his lack of knowledge around this incident humiliated him.

“Little boy… you don’t have to—”

She stopped as two boys threw open the large wooden doors and marched forward to stand next to Number 3. Before opening his mouth, Number 2 smirked at Number 3.

“That’s my shoe!”

Number 1 eagerly followed up on the lie. “See, ma’am, that boy there went on and just took off with my—I mean—his precious little shoe! Unfair!”

“Unfair!” ran through Number 3’s mind, but the sensible explanation he usually had prepared for every situation had left him. His neck bent down and he stayed silent.

The other two boys were not stammering and they were larger in size, a very different impression from the cowering child on the left. “Tell me more about the shoe. Where it came from, how it got here, so on,” said the teacher. She had already begun to trust the other two boys more, but the fraction of pity she kept for Number 3 caused her to remain suspicious.

Number 2 immediately replied. “Well, see, miss—”

“That black and blue shoe there was a special edition—”

“From back in the day. It was… my daddy’s.”

“Yeah. And black and blue are my—his, sorry—favorite colors.”

“That’s right, ma’am.” Number 2 felt victory in the air; Number 3 sensed defeat. His hands were smudged with dirt from playing with the others, but he cared not to wipe them and held onto the shoe with his dear pride.

“Well, why don’t we go on now and clean that shoe. It would’ve gotten… dirty now anyway.” The teacher removed the shoe from Number 3’s arms and walked to the sink at the end of the hallway. Number 1 looked at Number 2 and Number 2 looked at Number 3. Save for the tinkling running water, there was an embarrassed silence between each of the boys.

A moment later, a gasp escaped the mouth of the teacher. She continued to splash water on the object, but rapidly, hurriedly now. Number 2 stared at the teacher now, anxious yet clueless. The teacher was making her way back now, but in her hands was a white and blue shoe.

“Black and blue, you said? Did your father buy such a dirty shoe?”

Number 1 and Number 2 were mortified. Although young, they could already envision the countless times in which they had succeeded in fooling their parents with a white lie. But they did not see their lies as white anymore. Those deceptions were heavy, dirty, black, and they knew it. Their mouths remained closed.

“I see. Well, little boy.” The teacher turned to Number 3. “Go and put this in the Lost and Found for me, please.” The boy obeyed without a word, without a smirk controlling his face.

Silence reigned as the three boys made their way outside again. The sky that had once been an ugly yellow and gray was now a pink, orange, and golden painting, glowing and laughing above the excited, active civilization.