by James Patrick Focarile
I looked at the old shoes in the corner of the closet. They seemed to look back at me. They were brown leather and had seen life. I dared myself to try them on. I’m not sure what I expected. After all, they were just someone else’s shoes.
Well, not just anyone’s. They were my father’s. Yes, they were big to fill, but there was something else. What if putting them on changed me in some way? Enlightened me. Gave me insight into how he felt, what he did, who he really was.
But nothing magical ever happens to me.
I looked at the old shoes again. They seemed to look back at me. It was foolish to think I could fill them. Foolish to feel and do so many things.
I couldn’t move, like so many times before.
But I wanted closure. No, I needed it. I missed him. I had this vision of him, of what he was to me. But so much time had passed. What if I learned something I didn’t want to know? What if my memory was just a shadow, a phantom of what was?
My memories were a kind of truth. Maybe that was good enough. What would I gain or lose by putting them on? Would I empathize with him, love him more, or would my memories of him crumble under the pressure of reality?
Why do we search for truth? Maybe because we all want to believe in magic.
I looked at the old shoes in the corner of the closet. They seemed to look back at me. I dared myself—
I walked closer to them. They sat near a full-length, antique mirror. I saw my reflection and the shoes, but focused only on my eyes. They were his blue eyes, everyone said so. I took a step closer. The shoes reached out to me and I slid them on.
I felt something, an intense energy. It wasn’t magic, but it was immediate. They were comfortable, but not mine. His eyes looked back at me, but I saw them as my own for the first time.
Looking back could provide perspective, but from now on any real magic was up to me.
* * *
James Patrick Focarile resides in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a M.F.A. from Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a B.S. from Rutgers (NJ). When not writing, he teaches at Boise State University and consults with performing arts organizations.
I love the rhythm and repetition and poignancy of this piece, James. Beautiful description of a moment of insight, memory and self-knowledge, of relationship, the tug and the hesitation so well portrayed that we feel the back-and-forth-moving-forward as we read this piece.