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Red, Patent Leather Shoes


The light of each moment escapes her eyes and drops like Swarovski’s most delicate tears upon the place beneath. The fairy hair of a three year old. She is blond from the summer sun, the northern hemisphere’s winter not yet taken root. This cherub plays hide and seek, gushing giggles in her wake, nose running in the excitement of small dogs and the colours of soft toys that she grasps. She bumbles her way around the garden dipping into the flowers and she surfaces smiling, pollen smears across her forehead, caught in wisps of that fairy-fine hair.


From inside, facing out of the window, the shining one watches her granddaughter. Light grey hair mimics the blond as age dares to fly into the space of youth’s newness. There are only a few moments where it’s possible and now is the magic time.


Yesterday there was no traffic. A common place Sunday but today is the day when the truck comes by. One man, one truck and steel clamped arms which snatch at the waste hidden in green plastic bins.


There is a small gate at the front of the garden, leading from the pavement to the front door. The twisted fashioned iron leaves have been painted green, the roses, red and the fleur-de-lis are painted in gold, a gift from another grandchild during a boring summer’s day when on holiday. In the haste of getting the bin outside onto the pavement, the latch on the gate has not clicked to close. A gap invites a small child where gold paint sparkles in the sunlight. A crown of light haloes the off-balance cherub as she makes her way down the path, away from the radiant flower beds.


The steel arms speed down to grab a bin as child gets closer to the pavement. The sun glints from the lucky coins hanging from the rear-view mirror in the front cab of the truck. The driver sees out of the corner of his eye, a tiny form making its way to the bins. He looks for an adult in pursuit but there is no one coming and he notices the shine from the red, patent leather on her tiny feet.


This sprite of the Celtic sun sees only rainbows and follows them regardless of the unknown and danger. A moment of distraction has left her unattended and at the gate’s open invitation, she is unaware of a man in a truck, of bins and a light beginning to intensify as she draws closer to them. The man opens his window down and shouts “Hello! Is anyone responsible for this child? Hello?”. Grandma is inside the house, the water from the taps in the sink covering his voice. When she looks up she sees a dishevelled toy, reminiscent of the pink pig it was when her granddaughter was born and she is comforted, thinking that the child and the pig are rarely separated. Sure that the little one is safe amongst the flowers, she goes back to washing up the lunch dishes and moves away from the window to switch on the kettle.


The man in the truck halts the steel arms and opens the door to return the toddler to the garden but as he descends from the front of the cab. Wings unfold from above. A spear is launched and strikes at the heart of him. His lungs collapse. The pulse in his neck drops into his chest and a band is tightened to crushing. Blood on the pavement pools from his head under the red shoes.


She sees rainbows until a light descends from the sky. She sees the spear striking, coming from the sky until she is faced with terrible beauty. She has no reference for such a face and is charmed. She has no fear. Awkwardly reaching forward over the man’s chest, she can only just reach and grasps hold of the spear. She steadies herself. Motionless, she watches him as he writhes and gasps. The dark winged beauty, eclipsed by the light, reaches out to cradle his head but the little girl’s arms instinctively pushes her away.


Urgent footsteps race down the path stopping in sight of the aura of the vision which prepares to carry his soul from here to there. Grandmother is a light-worker and watches her granddaughter repel the magnificence of wings wishing to enfold a screaming heart. The child can’t realise but has the gift and a thousands of years of shamanic song and drumming pours from her fingertips as she pulls out the spear and hands it back to the heavenly messenger who stands, stunned at not only the unformed audacity but also a purity of heart and intent.


The older woman’s light radiates from her eyes and she places her hands over his heart, commanding it to beat once more. He sucks in air to explode with life once again. They watch as the girl clumsily returns the spear to its celestial owner. There are rainbows until they see a light ascend to the sky and her shoes are no longer smeared with the lifeblood of a man who cared enough to protect a fairy-haired three year old who had escaped from her grandmother’s notice.


Angels are not beyond forming agreements and a stuffed pink pig is replaced that day through the palming of light by the smallest of shamans in red, patent leather shoes.


Text: A short story Red, Patent Leather Shoes by JL Nash

Images: Antique French gold brooch with a fine miniature painting of a girl, mid 19th century.


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