I stand silently, my jaw hanging open, as I gaze at the enormous shining red door before me. Intricate flowers are embossed on the centre and at the topmost part are golden vines with diamonds as ringlets. It’s the queen of all doors towering elegantly over her kingdom. It’s the gateway to my dreamland.
My insides are pulsating with exhilaration. The door opens as if it felt my presence. I’m greeted by a blinding white light. It’s like I’ve been concealed in a dark box for a long time and now I finally escaped. I blink a few times until my eyes adjust. And I see the most breath-taking view I’ve ever seen. The walls are spotless white. Hanging below the high ceiling are several gigantic chandeliers. And, get this; there are endless rows of immaculate shoes. All shining against LED lights.
Gucci. Louis Vuitton. Miu Miu. Ferragamo. Louboutin. Jimmy Choo.
All the most coveted shoes in the world are in this place. Where should I start? I’m frozen with excitement and confusion. I sniff the air and it smells like fresh leather mixed with expensive perfume.
I could remain on my place, sniffing and staring for hours, if not for the gorgeous blonde woman who pats my shoulder and says, “Hi! Are you gonna try on our shoes?”
“I’d love to. But I can’t afford any of it,” I answer with obvious despair. “I’m just a student.”
“Don’t be silly. It’s free!”
What?! “Do you mean I don’t have to pay anything? You mean I can actually have a real designer shoe?” I gasp. Did I just die? Am I in heaven?
“Yeah, that’s what I mean,” blonde goddess says, “But you could only choose one.”
I walk over the first row. For the first time I notice I’m not the only one in this palace. There are tall, beautiful women giggling and sauntering around. They’re all wearing long dresses. Powder blue drape gown. White lacy gown. Red long-sleeved gown.
I look at what I’m wearing. I’m in a sweatpants and a lousy old t-shirt. Why didn’t I rent a gown? I suddenly feel out-of-place.
Never mind, I’ll just get my shoe real quick and head home.
I touch the first shoe and surreptitiously wipe the drool off my lower lip. It’s a silver strappy sandals with little diamonds on its straps. I’m in love. I badly want to try it on so I put it down slowly. Almost reverentially.
It doesn’t fit. Bummer.
I try another one but it still doesn’t fit, as well as the other and the other…
My feet are too small for a woman’s shoe. I feel exhausted by disappointments. Every time I look at a pair of shoe, it seemed more stunning than the previous one but nothing fits me so it’s useless. I’m in a dreamland but nothing in it is for me. Me, my sweatpants, my old, ragged, lousy t-shirt and my tiny feet don’t belong in this place.
I slump on the luxurious white couch to rest a little bit before I go off. I’m not gonna freaking cry over a pair of shoe, am I? I shouldn’t be depressed if I happen to be in a place where they’re giving away free designer shoes and nothing could fit me, should I? Oh my god. My eyes are burning.
I’m wiping the stupid tears with the back of my hand when I feel someone perch beside me. I turn and, oh boy!
I’m staring at the most soulful eyes I’ve ever seen. His eyes look like he knows everything about me. Like he can see through my core, read my mind and tell my future. He’s wearing a sweatpants and a lousy shirt. Just like me! I’m not alone! And he’s holding a –
Is that a –
Oh my god.
Is that a lacy cream pumps?
A very feminine, open toe, lacy cream platform pumps?
“Try this on. This will fit you perfectly,” his voice is very deep and gentle. He places the pumps close to my feet.
“No thanks. I don’t like shoes,” I lie. “I loathe it, actually.”
“Don’t let your disappointments make you indifferent,” he says in a surprisingly soothing tone.
“I’m not indifferent! I’ve tried on everything in this place but nothing could fit me,” I say crossly. “You hear it? Nothing. Nada.”
“Not everything, I suppose. You haven’t reach that corner yet,” he says, pointing to farthest corner on the left with little butterfly paintings on the white wall. “Where you could’ve found this one – the one tailored just for you”.
“Why does it have to be placed on the remotest corner?” I’m still unconvinced. “If it’s really for me, it should be where I could easily see it.”
“Is that so? Wouldn’t that spoil the thrill?” he says calmly. “Aren’t you glad you’ve try on and seen those beautiful shoes? You would’ve not experienced it if you got what you want right away.”
“I’m beginning to believe I don’t belong here. I was about to head home,” I say.
“The door would’ve not opened if you don’t belong, in the first place. And I won’t let you go home without having this,” he gestures to the pumps he’s holding. “Didn’t you wish for it?”
“I did. But do I still deserve it? Though I gave up?” I ask.
“I’m proud of your tenacity. You walk through almost all those shelves, didn’t you?” the man answers. “You just thought about giving up. But you’re just taking a rest then you’ll get up and try again.”
“Tenacity? You don’t know me. I’m impatient”.
“You do like to whine from time to time,” he smiles while shaking his head. “But that’s how you cope. The world can be tough. No one can get on without whining. Believe me, I understand you. You get frustrated and cry but you carry on. Now,” he holds my hands and passes me the shoes.
I grasp the shoe and look at it. It’s even more beautiful closer. It’s unbelievably exquisite. Why do I have a feeling that this particular pair of shoe is what I’ve been looking for all along? Like it really is made for me. I know if other shoes happen to suit me, I would’ve kept searching until I found this one. It seems like the perfect fit… but what if it’s just like all the other I’ve tried on? Will it be worth it to take another chance and risk another disappointment? Will it be worth it to have faith with this stranger?
Taking another chance is always worth it, I decide. And who cares about disappointments? I can always get over it. And yes, it’s worth it to have faith.
I put the shoes down and slip my feet in it and –
It fits! So perfectly. It feels comfortably familiar.
I glance back at the man and see him smiling as if saying “see?”
“Thank you so much. Who are you, by the way?” I ask. “What’s your name?”
He looks at my eyes and says, “I’m J–
My reliable alarm clock yanks me back to reality.