In Honor of EH

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Prompted by Hemingway's piece of flash fiction, I elaborated on the line "For sale: baby shoes, never worn"

Submitted: March 15, 2014

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Submitted: March 15, 2014

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For sale, baby shoes, never worn.

After the first couple weeks, there was finally silence.  The remnants of the nursery lay on the front lawn, and empty bags of potato chips and beer bottles littered the kitchen table and crumbs and stains covered the floor and over everything lay the most profound, gray silence he had ever experienced.  The dog slept next to his bowl with his eyes half closed and his tail, noticeably still, spread out behind his prostrate form. 

He hadn't barked for weeks.

For hours after sunrise, the scene changed little; the curtains remained drawn, the lights off.  The only noise to break the smothering air that morning was an occasional whimper of neglect as the dog switched positions on the kitchen floor.  The man sat still at the kitchen table, feet flat on the tiles, his eyes dry and unmoving.

The clock ticked away imperceptibly while the sun passed its apex and started its descent, to the ignorance of man and beast who remained sheltered by the heavy drapes that covered the windows.  Timelessly and with no external indication, the man stood, sending the chair screeching across the unswept floor. The dog jumped in surprise, his claws clicking against the hard floor as he struggled to gain purchase.

The man walked purposefully to the other room where he found, on the middle of the desk, arranged meticulously amidst the squalor, two tiny purple gap shoes with bleached white laces already tied up.  Their luminescence was almost blinding against the backdrop of the dark browns of the furniture and the off-white of the wall.  The man grazed a finger along one side, but quickly retracted his touch to grab a black marker and a piece of poster board from the closet on which, with a shaky hand, he wrote the words "For sale.  Baby shoes.  Never Worn." in large block letters.  The squeak of the marker hurt his ears.

When he had finished, he went outside and, stepping over the broken crib and sheets now windswept and specked with dirt, placed the sign at rest against the mailbox where it was visible from the street.  Next to it, with a still and gentle hand, he placed the shoes, still the picture of daintiness and serenity.  Considering them, he bent again to fix the lace which had fallen to touch the concrete of the sidewalk.

The dog waited at the door, but the man ignored him.  He sat again, but now closed his eyes and was lost in memory.  In his head he heard her singing.

The man jumped, startled from his reverie by a quiet but insistent knock on the door.  He rose with reluctance and silently walked to the door, unwashed and ungroomed, dressed in a dirty pair of gray sweatpants and a t-shirt that was two sizes too big. It took a good deal of strength to turn the knob, and his trembling hand made the metal click against the lock. 

On the other side of the door, a woman with brilliant gray hair stood on the stoop with her husband two paces behind.  A glint in the old man's eye surrendered his emotion, and the man felt tenderness and sympathy in his gaze.  As the woman silently pulled him into a hug, a tear fell from the eye of her husband behind her.  In his hand, balanced with the care and delicacy only capable of a father, he held the two tiny purple gap shoes with the bleached white laces, still carefully tied.  After the woman released the man from the hug, she stepped aside, and her husband climbed the two steps to the front stoop to replace her.  With a tender look and another tear he slowly held out the shoes to the man, who stared at them for a long time, and slowly took them. 

With a touch on the shoulder and without a word, the old couple walked back down the path to the street.

For sale, baby shoes, never worn.

After the first couple weeks, there was finally silence.  The remnants of the nursery lay on the front lawn, and empty bags of potato chips and beer bottles littered the kitchen table and crumbs and stains covered the floor and over everything lay the most profound, gray silence he had ever experienced.  The dog slept next to his bowl with his eyes half closed and his tail, noticeably still, spread out behind his prostrate form. 

He hadn't barked for weeks.

For hours after sunrise, the scene changed little; the curtains remained drawn, the lights off.  The only noise to break the smothering air that morning was an occasional whimper of neglect as the dog switched positions on the kitchen floor.  The man sat still at the kitchen table, feet flat on the tiles, his eyes dry and unmoving.

The clock ticked away imperceptibly while the sun passed its apex and started its descent, to the ignorance of man and beast who remained sheltered by the heavy drapes that covered the windows.  Timelessly and with no external indication, the man stood, sending the chair screeching across the unswept floor. The dog jumped in surprise, his claws clicking against the hard floor as he struggled to gain purchase.

The man walked purposefully to the other room where he found, on the middle of the desk, arranged meticulously amidst the squalor, two tiny purple gap shoes with bleached white laces already tied up.  Their luminescence was almost blinding against the backdrop of the dark browns of the furniture and the off-white of the wall.  The man grazed a finger along one side, but quickly retracted his touch to grab a black marker and a piece of poster board from the closet on which, with a shaky hand, he wrote the words "For sale.  Baby shoes.  Never Worn." in large block letters.  The squeak of the marker hurt his ears.

When he had finished, he went outside and, stepping over the broken crib and sheets now windswept and specked with dirt, placed the sign at rest against the mailbox where it was visible from the street.  Next to it, with a still and gentle hand, he placed the shoes, still the picture of daintiness and serenity.  Considering them, he bent again to fix the lace which had fallen to touch the concrete of the sidewalk.

The dog waited at the door, but the man ignored him.  He sat again, but now closed his eyes and was lost in memory.  In his head he heard her singing.

The man jumped, startled from his reverie by a quiet but insistent knock on the door.  He rose with reluctance and silently walked to the door, unwashed and ungroomed, dressed in a dirty pair of gray sweatpants and a t-shirt that was two sizes too big. It took a good deal of strength to turn the knob, and his trembling hand made the metal click against the lock. 

On the other side of the door, a woman with brilliant gray hair stood on the stoop with her husband two paces behind.  A glint in the old man's eye surrendered his emotion, and the man felt tenderness and sympathy in his gaze.  As the woman silently pulled him into a hug, a tear fell from the eye of her husband behind her.  In his hand, balanced with the care and delicacy only capable of a father, he held the two tiny purple gap shoes with the bleached white laces, still carefully tied.  After the woman released the man from the hug, she stepped aside, and her husband climbed the two steps to the front stoop to replace her.  With a tender look and another tear he slowly held out the shoes to the man, who stared at them for a long time, and slowly took them. 

With a touch on the shoulder and without a word, the old couple walked back down the path to the street.


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