I found this very short story today. It was a college assignment from a few years ago where we were given the title ‘For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.’

It’s safe to say I never left my comfort zone while writing it. 

——————————————————–

All in all, I was pretty happy with my sandwich. It had taken twenty-five minutes of solid effort, and now it was about to pay off. There are very few people these days who can find the time on a sunny Tuesday afternoon to devote themselves to a snack. But with the baby asleep upstairs and the house to myself, I could gather trace elements of every compatible foodstuff my fridge contained. Sitting down at the kitchen table with a glass of milk and my massive sandwich, I allowed myself a long, contented sigh.

My wife arrived home seconds later.

As usual, she moved in a flurry of breathless excitement. I heard the car door kicked shut in the driveway, the quick click-clack of heels on concrete before the key turned in the lock. Entering the hall, she called my name.

I took a huge bite from my lunch and tried to think of a way to make her go away. Taking a swig of milk, I issued a non-committal burp which she took as an invitation.

Rushing in, she placed a small cardboard box on the table and looked at me expectantly, arms crossed. A sense of foreboding grew gradually in the pit of my stomach and wrestled with my lunch. Keeping my eyes on hers, I chewed slowly, unwilling to break my spell of silence, knowing she would crack first.

Her lips broke into a smile and she reached for the box, wrenching off its lid.

The false rubies shimmered in the light from the kitchen window. The glint in my wife’s eyes was unmistakable, the gleam of madness.

Tenderly, she removed the silk coverlet to reveal the entirety of her purchase; two impossibly tiny shoes, completely red and horribly familiar looking.

“They’re the replica ruby slippers Judy Garland bought her daughter Liza when she was a baby!”

I cleared my throat noisily, “From the Wizard of Oz?”

“Yep.”

“How much?” I asked quietly, my mouth full.

“Liza wore them when she first….”

“How MUCH?”

“Well they’re one of a kind”, she started, suddenly realizing I wasn’t as excited as she was, “…And the woman said they’d be perfect for any baby girl. She gave me a discount when I told her about Dot.”

I got up, still holding my sandwich and went around to the other side of the table to read the price-tag.

“You know we can’t afford that, it’s obscene.”

“She gave us ten percent off the marked price, it’s a bargain really. If you consider the history.”

I looked at her wide-eyed, “What history? Assuming we were interested in the life and times of Liza bloody Minelli OR her crackpot mother – which we’re not! Or The Wizard of Oz – which I hate! There’s no proof these shoes weren’t made by that friend of yours in the shop! ”

I took a moment to regroup and tend to my sandwich which had almost been shaken apart during my tirade.

I looked at her again; she was on the brink of tears. Victory seemed assured, so I softened my approach, quietly promising other, smaller, purchases in the future as I carefully laid the coverlet back on top of the ghastly shoes.. I whispered that I would return them if she liked and put my free arm round her.

She smiled, kissed my cheek and whispered into my ear, “They’re beautiful, and I’m keeping them!”

I lunged to make a grab for the box. That was when she pushed me.

Caught slightly off-balance and trying absurdly to safeguard the survival of my sandwich, I tumbled backward over the table and hit the marble floor hard.

I came to as they loaded me into the ambulance, my right arm jutted out at an unusual angle and my head throbbed horribly. Looming out of the haze, I could see my distraught wife holding our child as neighbours crowded around.

With my one good hand I beckoned her closer,

“Return…the shoes,” I breathed.

She nodded quickly, embarrassed in front of the paramedics, and reached into her coat to bring out a zip-lock bag, “I found this. Thought you might be peckish later!”