Jason Reed is new to our site, and did not even need a full 500 words to tell a complete story. I do hope we will be hearing more from you, Jason. This is a story that perfectly captures the intent and spirit of our contest, and, by the way, so well written. Nuanced, and with power–the two are not mutually exclusive. We have a number of combat vets who visit here who will certainly connect to this story. (Russ? Dante? Ed? Fred?) Still time for others to enter our contest: https://awordwithyoupress.com/?s=high+heeled+sneakers
walking a mile in someone else’s shoes
The weight of them was too much; I had no need for steel toe anymore. They hurt my knees when i walked, this isn’t a place that required a steel plate under my foot. Truth be told they were not comfortable with the high ankle support and laces that wrapped around. I stared at the old tan boots and wondered why i never choose to put on the newer pair that was right beside them. The answer was simple and complex, i knew that the new boots fit me much better now and would help me heal, but these had protected me and traveled with me when nothing else had. I slid my foot into the new shoes and thought about the past, what if i had worn these while deployed down range, in Kuwait? Would i have made it back? Then i look over at the old boots and see the scratches and tears in the leather. Maybe but not the same. I slide my foot out and back into the safety of the past and feel the laces tighten around like a shield and a hug at the same time. As i stand i feel my knees start to give that standard pain that i have grown to expect as i hear my sons young voice calling from the other room asking for my attention. I sit back down. I slowly start to unlace my protectors and partners that i have known for many years and adventures. I slide my feet into the unknown as i hear my son calling again. I tighten the laces and it’s not the same. There is no protection here, no comfort of the past, and no history. As i stand i groan expecting my knees to cry out like always but its not as severe. My son is getting impatient calling from the other room, as i look at my past sitting on the floor. I pick up my partner from the past heading to the room to meet my son. He is dressed and ready to play. I put my old friends in the trash and regret it. I can’t stop thinking about running from danger, and how they protected me, until i hear my son call again and we go outside to play, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Rudyard Kipling’s poem about boots, boots, boots–moving up and down again