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Short Story Sample

Winter, 2008 
24-Hour Short Story Contest 
Winner

Diamond Soles


She sat, stunned with disbelief. Her precious trinket was gone! The only reminder that remained of her mother, gone. A strange elation began to course through her veins. She was free! Years of torment, guilt, pain and unrest. All gone with the disappearance of this trinket.
"People say she's crazy, she got diamonds on the soles of her shoes."


She hadn't noticed the music her West African dance teacher had been playing while the students had been changing into their street clothes since class was finished for the semester. There were about eight students in class, of all different persuasions—even a large man who was wearing a red bandana over his dark crew cut and a lime green hankie that stuck out the back of his racing shorts like a limp yet colourful tail. Such strange sights in this world sometimes!
"Well that's one way to lose these walking blues."

 

She suffered from a memory disorder that only allowed her to remember things when they were right in front of her, which really wasn't remembering anything at all. She had a condition where she could not conceptualize something in her head, where if something or someone was not materialized in front of her, that someone or something did not have a past. This is why she continued to carry around the sock with the trinket from her mother. She knew this was the only way she would be reminded of her mother. And now, only a sock remained. It would do her no good to simply wear a gray sock every day: every pair of her socks was gray! There would be no way wearing this particular sock would remind her of her mother with the entirety of her sock stock gray as soaked cement.


"She has physically forgotten but then she slipped into my pocket with my car keys."
She was sitting on the floor at the back of the studio, her street clothes strewn around her. She was still wearing her gray leggings and red tie-dyed wrap-around made into a flowing skirt around her waist. She stared at her socks lying limp on the hard wooden floor. She grabbed her sandals, placing them in her dance bag and made her way to the front office to say bye to the secretary.
"Diamonds on the soles of her shoes."


Every day was certainly an adventure. She never knew what she would remember and what she wouldn't, and how long she could remember something for. Sometimes she would play games with herself where she would test herself to see how long she could remember something. Last week she learned a new dance move and wanted to see if she would remember it by the time she got home that night from her long bus ride. To her astonishment, she did remember. Then she warmed up some supper: cookout chicken with beans. She did the dance move again before bed. She could still do it. But by morning she could only vaguely remember something about a step to the right and a kick back but she coudln't remember what to do with her arms.


It was often harder to remember things after she had worked out physically, been emotionally tired or after sleeping. The one thing she could always remember was her dreams. Her dreams sometimes seemed more like reality to her than waking life. She hoped that's what it was like when she was dead: a dream world full of all her dreams, where she did crazy things like fly and drink from purple swimming pools and chase giraffes through mud pits with hippoes on her trail. But that was her dreams. Not real life. Not this life.


"She said, 'Honey take me dancing!' but they ended up by sleeping in a doorway.."
This would be the last West African dance class of the semester. The next semester didn't start until fall. She didn't know whether she would be in the next semester; there were no class schedules for fall readily available at the front counter on her way out. This momentarily made her sad, but she believed if she was meant to be there, something somewhere would come along her path that would remind her. Maybe her teacher Tansi would call to invite her to join next semester's classes. But maybe Tansi would forget too, seeing as she had a whole summer to not think about students, only teaching a few workshops here and there for some sort of summer income coupled with vacation days.


She could still hear faint musings about diamonds and rich girls on her way out the front door of the building.


Dancing was the about the only activity she could still do with a modicum of grace, one of the few activities she could do that she could be confident she could perform adeqately, given somehow her body remembered the moves each week or at least the motions: the erratic flailing of arms, stepping from side to side and the yells were all things her body remembered. She couldn't remember the names of the moves or the steps nor the names of any of her classmates, but her body remembered the movements.


She went home happy, but with a slight wondering of what it was that her mother wanted her to keep that she had kept it in her sock every day for the past how long... years it seemed. She couldn't really know without looking at documents she had in her accordion file at home; death certificate, a receipt from the crematorium, a letter from her mama's next door neighbour.


She headed to the bus stop directly in front of the doors leading to the dance studio. She waited there until the bus arrived. She boarded and showed her disability pass to the driver. The bus closed its door, pulling ahead and taking the woman with it. Her bare feet enjoyed the gentle pull of the bus's frequent stops and starts. It would be a long, wonderful ride home.