Kas glowered with suspicion at the Ancient Tennis Shoes. They lay sprawled on their sides dirt smudged white soles over treads worn smooth and flat. When he’d gotten them, they’d been shining black leather, crisp and the tread on the bottom laid out like artwork. The laces had been fat and beautiful, holding perfectly around his feet. The sides had been stiff and lined in cloud-soft cushion, so that each step was a bounce, not a plod. Running – oh, running. Kas didn’t have the words for what running in the Tennis Shoes felt like, just the feeling afterward when his feet didn’t hurt, and his knees didn’t hurt, and his spine and back and shoulders didn’t hurt and he always, remarkably, managed to get there on time: miraculous.
Once, he would have said that the Ancient Tennis Shoes were magic. But magic did not wear out, and he was long past believing in the Ancient Tennis Shoes, and into wondering how an inanimate object could lie to him.
Kas continued to glower at them until his common sense told him that his current actions would not get him out of the woods, would not make his blisters disappear, and would not convince time to slow so that he would arrive home on time.
He pushed his feet back into the Ancient Tennis Shoes, though he wasn’t sure why. He tied them gingerly, half to avoid the blisters and half on the fear that one of the laces might snap. Then he allowed himself one more glare and pushed himself to his feet.
While he walked, he counted all the reasons that had proved they were magic. One, they’d fallen out of a clear, blue sky, knocked him on the head while he was leaving the shop after work. Two, he’d never seen anything like them: no leather that smooth and sturdy, no padding so soft, no material so resilient and pliable as the sole. Three, they’d fit him, more perfectly than the boots he’d had made for himself. Four, a mad stranger had followed after them and given them a name.
He’d brought them home to show his mother immediately, and then wished he hadn’t, when she tried to convince him that magic things were not to be trifled with. She’d taken them out of his hands, tucked them into the bottom of a chest, and would have locked it immediately if she hadn’t been distracted by giving him a lecture about only using them for great deeds and hiding them away in the meantime so that no one would steal them. He argued, of course, that the best way to hide something was in daily use. No one would suspect that anything trod on and stamped on every day could be anything more than dreary ordinary.
Looking down at his shoes, Kas wondered if that was the problem. Perhaps, even the Ancient Tennis Shoes had started to believe in their own banality.
I’m a thief! And I’m branching out. This week, I robbed my good friend, The Kid for the first line of this piece. Don’t worry, she doesn’t mind any more than Bek usually does. You can check out the original piece she wrote tomorrow at her blog. (Thanks, Kid.)