#7, June 2, 2021

this month's prompt

Shoes

Your shoes are too tight. Each footstep, loud against the muted night, carries a grain of discomfort. Discomfort you’re reminded of every time you walk, but you forget again whenever you take your shoes off to relax. But this is neither the time nor the place for relaxation.

 

Deserted streets loom around you, a rainbow of blacks and greys. The same streets you’ve walked a thousand times, with streetlamps casting pools of garish orange, fighting back against the darkness. No one but you at this time of night. Yawning windows peer out at you from darkened concrete facades.

 

A passing car snatches your attention, pale blue lights illuminating graffiti. An abandoned building, tenacious plants sprouting from between bricks and tiles. Decaying timber hiding long-silent windows. As you walk closer, you start to make out slogans and tags. Spidery spray paint making book pages out of unloved walls.

 

One thing catches your eye. Knotted wooden boards covering a forgotten doorway. The swirling shapes in the wood adorned with the words, “Spread your wings.” You pause a moment, your footsteps giving way to silence. Just the sound of gentle wind and the faint flutter of bats. You look up, catching brief glances of them between glaring streetlights.

 

Bats don’t need shoes. Perhaps you should take the graffiti’s advice and spread your wings. Quietly, you wonder. Maybe. Before you walk the same streets a thousand more times. Those streets feel old and worn to you now. Like an old pair of shoes, tattered and painful to put on. But familiarity is comfort in itself, and comfort numbs the mind to greater needs.

 

A frown crosses your brow. Yes, you should spread your wings. You make a silent promise to yourself to do just that. You look back to the old building, and the graffiti you’d seen before. But you find no words there. Just decaying timber hiding long-silent windows. Knotted wooden boards covering a forgotten doorway.