by Kathy Sattem Rygg -
Lizzie crossed her arms in front of her chest and scowled. “I don’t like any of these shoes.”
Her mother sighed. “You have to pick out a new pair for school. Those sandals you wore all summer look like a wild animal got a hold of them.”
Lizzie glanced down at her feet. The pink glittery jelly sandals were her favorites even though some of the rubber straps had broken off. Her toes didn’t get sweaty when she ran, and they cushioned her heels like pillows. All the shoes on the shelf in front of her looked like stiff cardboard that would make her feet smelly by the end of the day.
“You’re going to need something warmer to wear when it gets cold,” said her mother.
“I can just wear my sandals with socks. I’ll even wear two pairs of socks when it snows.” Lizzie thought that made perfect sense.
“Let’s just try on this nice pair of Mary Jane’s. They’ll go with everything.” Lizzie’s mom held up a pair of black shoes with a heavy sole and a thick strap across the middle.
Lizzie wrinkled her nose. “Those are boring. And who’s Mary Jane?”
Her mother closed her eyes and let out a deep breath. Her mom only did that when she practiced yoga or didn’t like something Lizzie said.
“Would you like to try something on?” A short, plump lady with pumpkin orange hair, sea green eye shadow and smudgy red lipstick waddled up to them. The name badge on her polka dot blouse read “Maude.”
“Yes, we would,” said Lizzie’s mother.
Lizzie shook her head and sat down hard on the chair behind her. She stared at Maude then looked away, blinking back the tears that were stinging her eyeballs.
Maude disappeared and came back seconds later with Mary Jane’s shoes. She slipped them on Lizzie’s limp feet. “Can you stand up, dear?”
Lizzie half-stood while Maude pressed on the tops of the clunky black shoes, smashing Lizzie’s big toes.
“They fit perfectly.” Maude beamed.
“Great! We’ll take them.” Lizzie’s mother pulled her wallet out of her slouchy red purse. Lizzie sank back down into the chair.
Maude bent over and gently rested her hand on Lizzie’s knee. She smelled like one of those purple flowering bushes in the spring, and her green eye shadow shimmered like a tropical fish.
“This is your lucky day. With every pair of shoes you buy, you get to pick out a second pair for free from our shoe shack.” Maude pointed toward the back wall.
Lizzie peered around Maude and gazed at a flimsy cardboard cutout of a log cabin. It was colored in with brown marker and the corners were bent and creased. Written in black zig zag lettering across the top were the words “Shoe Shack.” A worn, velvety tan curtain hung across an opening cut out of the middle of the cardboard.
“Oh, that’s fun! Lizzie, why don’t you go look in the shoe shack and see if there’s a pair of shoes you like.” Her mother turned toward Maude. “Do you have much of a selection?”
“We try to keep a few pairs in every size.” Maude winked.
Lizzie shuffled to the back wall. She wasn’t so sure about the shoe shack. She had made better looking forts out of cardboard at home. She glanced at her mother who gave her a toothy grin. Lizzie pulled back the curtain and ducked inside.
“Holy Guacamole!” Lizzie gasped...