Bright, Shiny Things

– Carolyn Batcheler

March 15

Amelia always took the same route to work, she called in at Nero for her coffee to keep her awake and the slightly longer walk counted towards her 10,000 steps a day. She passed all the usual shops but there was one that always caught her eye. It had a bay window and bright shiny shoes and handbags in the window. It was different because it was an independent, so the price tags were beyond her, but it always gave her something to dream about. She had never dared to step inside and there were rarely any customers in view. She hoped that it would remain, as shoes were her passion. There was a pair of light blue shoes with jewelled heels that she lusted after and as she answered calls at work she often found herself doodling little pictures of those very, shoes. It had progressed into drawings of herself in glamorous situations and she knew where those shoes could take her and who she would meet whilst wearing them. She had got into trouble with her boss for being “repeatedly distracted” and was on her final warning.

Sometimes she even visited the shop at weekends and on one Saturday she had taken her mum out for a coffee and she had shown her the shoes, pointing out the soft leather, the pastel colour and the pinnacle property of those jewelled heels. Her mother’s reaction had been unexpected, as she had said, “Totally impractical, where would you wear those? Shoes for people with more money than sense. Have you seen the price?” and then she had walked away muttering the cost and people with big bank accounts and too much time on their hands. She had still been chuntering as they sat down for their coffee and cheese scone. Amelia had been annoyed that she had to pay for the treat and the trip she had planned and imagined in her head was all spoilt because of her silly mother’s negative attitude. She had not taken her out since even though her mother had suggested they go on several occasions but she just said “Sorry, I’m busy” and went out and had a coffee in the café that had a view of the shop. It was from there she saw a sale poster go up in the window. She usually made her coffee last for hours but she downed what was left in one. She was almost out the door when a member of staff came running after her with her book and phone, she grabbed them said “Ta” and continued in her mission.

Her heart sank as she saw that the shoes had been moved from the window. She felt sick and thought she was going to faint. A passing bloke asked her if she was ok, and she snapped, “Yes, fine” and he moved away swiftly. She looked into the crowded shop and saw loads of people gathered round the reduced rack. She hated crowds and was so full of panic that she took herself home. Her mother wouldn’t shut up that she needed to see a doctor and kept remarking on how pale she looked. She went back on the Sunday, even though she knew the shop was closed and was relieved to see that her shoes were on the reduced rack. She managed to get some sleep on Sunday night but dreamt about the shoes and woke up in a panic. She got up early and was at the shop waiting for it to open at 8:45. It wasn’t till just after 9 that she read the note on the door that said “Sorry, not open until 10:30 Monday”. Amelia knew she was on her final warning at work so she made the effort and went into the office.

Amelia couldn’t concentrate and she kept checking the time. At 11:30 she went off to the Ladies and redid her makeup and cleaned her teeth. At 11:58 she flexied out and made her way to the shop. There was only one other customer in the shop as she stepped inside for the first time. The owner finished off with the last customer having given Amelia a smile of acknowledgement. Amelia took the shoes in her hands and caressed them, the leather was as soft as she imagined. As the smiley woman came towards her the words came out of her mouth “Can I have these in a size 6 please?” but what came back was not anything she had anticipated. “Sorry Madam, that is the last pair we have left” Amelia pulled herself together and said “Could you order me a pair, please?” but her dreams were dashed when the woman said “They are last years design, Maam” Amelia tried on the shoes and held them in her hands and it was when she did this that, the idea came to her and she had the solution but she needed to act quickly before her mother returned from work. She brought the shoes and they were reduced by £100, so were a huge bargain. She felt so proud as she walked along the street with the cardboard carrier bag that was covered in the shops smart logo and tied with a bow at the top.

She made her way home on the bus with her prize beside her, and was thrilled when she saw people glancing at the bag. She didn’t give work a single thought, as she got ready to carry out her plan. She sharpened her mum’s carving knife and sterilised it with boiling water. She put down towels and took a couple of paracetamol, knowing that she had made the right choice of painkiller because aspirin would make her bleed more. She found an old carrier bag to put her toes in so she could bin them before her parents got back home and then she began. Well, she lifted the knife and hesitated, stood up and went and gave it another sharpen and clean, just to be sure. She set the shoes up within sight to give her encouragement because she was beginning to waver. She tried the shoes on again and marked off where the cut should be especially across her big toe. She was surprised to note that her left foot was slightly smaller than the right, and she would have to watch what she was doing or the shoe might end up too big. She felt the muscle, bone and sinew in her toes, and was beginning to realise it might be even a bit more painful than the worst menstral pain she had ever had so she popped another paracetamol.

She drank a glass of water so she would not get dehydrated from any blood loss and this time she knew she had to make a start. She decided to start on her right foot because the removal point was at the base of each toe. She knew the big toe would be the most painful but that was going to be the starting point as the rest would be easy after that. As she lifted the knife she felt her heart rate begin to rise and took several deep breaths to calm herself. Her first swipe missed completely and only achieved a slice through the towel; she was a bit concerned as she felt the knife hit the carpet. She put the tufts of wool into the carrier bag and moved the pile to hide the mark from her eagle -eyed mother. It did prove that the knife was plenty sharp enough though. She used a wooden spoon to separate her big toe from the rest and this time she hit her mark. The pain was worse than anything she had anticipated and she had only managed to get half way through the bone. It was the blood spatter that had stopped her along with the pain. The knife hung there stuck, and the world was beginning to spin. Amelia watched in horror as a thin fountain of red shiny drops hit her glorious new shoes and as she tried to move to avert the flow elsewhere the knife bit deeper into the bone she began to loose consciousness so she took a final push down on the knife and as she slipped into a dark swirling world of heat and agony.

The next thing she knew was hearing the shout of greeting as her mother came through the door. Amelia tried to lift herself up in her chair to cover some of the damage, as she knew her mum would seek her out, as she had not managed to reply. It was as she tried to move that the pain and the bleeding started with renewed vigour and the spray of droplets showered again. Her consciousness levels raised again as her mother entered the room and screeched “What the fuck?” Amelia had never heard her mother swear before and had no idea she knew such words, as you didn’t hear them so on the radio plays that filled her days. Amelia shifted again and the glorious spatter continued as her mother hit the floor in a dead faint.

Carolyn Batcheler

I am an ex- nurse who began writing three years ago. I live in the North East of England. I mainly write short stories but have written 2 books and some poetry. I particularly like haiku form. I perform poetry using the tag-line “Black hearted bitch, with an inner happy unicorn” Writing makes me happy!