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The Second Hand Dance Shoes - A Short Story


“Here we go again!” sighed Size 12 Ballet.

“Who is the lucky one this time?” wondered Size 3.

“Lucky?” asked Size 10.  “I don’t consider it lucky to be picked!  Yet another pair of dirty, smelly feet who don’t know how to dance.  Why are the newbies always a size 10?”
“Well, I wish they were a Size 3” remarked Size 3 Ballet.  “It gets so boring in this drawer.  I love it when an eleven year old forgets their ballet shoes and borrows me.  I get to dance Pas-de-Chat, Glissades, Jetes.… mind you, their Pirouettes need more practise!  No-one new is ever a size 3.  I think I’d enjoy to be borrowed a little more.  It would be nice to help someone do their first plie instead of being stuck here in this drawer day after day.”

“You wouldn’t be saying that if you had experienced the feet I have had inside me!” replied Size 8.  “I spend half of the lesson time being kicked off their feet; sometimes even thrown across the studio floor!”

The dance shoes all gasp.

“I don’t know why they can’t start dance class at age 5 instead of age 2.  At least I’d stand a chance at staying on someone’s feet for most of the lesson.”

“I don’t know why you’re all complaining,” a voice pipes up from the floor.  “As a size 9 Tap shoe I spend all my time hitting the floor with such force you wouldn’t ever expect from a 4 year old!  Stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp – as fast they can.  My poor metal taps are sore from the pressure.  They weren’t made for such vulgarity; they were made to perform the gentle rhythms of Ginger Rogers.”

“Ginger Rogers!”  A laugh is heard from the shelf.  “Ginger Rogers!  A Size 9?  I don’t think so!  Now, size 4’s were made for the great Ginger Rogers.  Size 9’s are made for heel digs, toe taps and stamps.  What else do you expect from a child of that age?  Dance teachers are not miracle workers!”

Size 8 Tap speaks up dreamily, “I once was owned by a child prodigy.  Shuffles, pick-ups, tap springs, age 4!  I cherish those memories.  Days gone by.  I don’t expect to see another child with that talent wearing me ever again.  I just get the newbies like the rest of you.”

“I had a good 3 months last year,” said Size 13 Ballet.  Every Friday I was borrowed by a lovely girl called Kate.  She had beautiful feet.  She was only a beginner but she was made to dance – I could tell!  She picked everything up so fast even though she was a later starter at age 9.”

“That’s not late” said Size 11.

“It is when you consider some children are barely walking when they start class here.  Anyway, her Mum never bought Kate her own ballet shoes.  She kept promising the teacher she would have them by the next lesson but she never did.”

“Why did she stop borrowing you?”

“She grew too big for me.  She tried to squeeze her feet in for a few lessons but it didn’t work out.  I was being stretched to my cotton limit and her toes were being squeezed too much.  She needed Size 1.”

“Oh” – a general sigh is heard.

“Poor Size 1!”.  Size 2 lets out a sniffle.

“Tragic!” says Size 3.  “That’s not a day we want to remember.”

“What happened to Size 1?” asked Size 11.

“You don’t know?” asked Size 2.

“No” said Size 11.  “I’ve only been here 2 weeks – since Emily grew out of me and I got donated to the Studio.  I miss Emily.  I catch sight of her every now and then wearing her new sparkling pair of Size 12’s.  They may be sparkly but I bet they don’t care for her as much as me.  She pointed her foot better when she wore me too!  Anyway, what happened to Size 1?”

“It was the worst!” remembers Size 3.

“The very worst!” said Size 2 as she sniffled again.

“What happened?” Size 11 asks again.

“They threw her out.  She had holes and a missing elastic which was pulled out by the little brother of one of the dancers,” explained Size 4.  “Even with the elastic intact she wasn’t likely to last much longer.  She had been here the longest.  She belonged to the dance teacher’s daughter.  She had a wonderful year of performing on her feet, but one day she got a hole.  Then the hole got bigger.  Every time she was borrowed, it got worse.  Then, that very last time she was used, the front of the shoe popped out.”

“The dance teacher said she was dangerous!” sobbed Size 2.  “And that she mustn’t be worn again.”

“Then they threw her out,” said Size 3.  “We didn’t even get a chance to say ‘Goodbye’”.

“That’s terrible!” said Size 11.

The shoes all nodded, bowing their toes.

“I think she’s going to need a Size 10” says the unmistakeable voice of the dance teacher.

“Here we go again!” groans Size 10.

©Tricia A. Thompson


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