I like to share an excerpt of a short story of mine, “Ugly Red Shoes” (page 86), recently published by Red Earth Review (Oklahoma City University, July 2016). This story takes place in Chile in times when my country was a lot tighter than now…
I am very grateful to the editors of Red Earth Review for sharing this story with all of you!
“. . . By the time Elisa came downstairs to interrogate her, her mother’s nervous system was as raw as the lamb lying on the kitchen counter-top. She purposely dropped the knife and onions, creating a loud noise in the stainless-steel sink. Elisa stood back, aware she had stepped into something deeper than lamb stew. Her mother turned around and faced her with hands on her hips. Elisa looked below her mother’s firm breasts, afraid she might otherwise encounter a couple of blue lightning bolts.
“Maria Elisa,” calling her daughter by her full name as she did when Elisa was insolent or in trouble. “Aren’t you insistent! What did you want me to do? I had no choice!”
Elisa saw a couple of drops of water falling from her mother’s face. She was uncertain if it was sweat, tears, or from the onion.
“Do you really want to know why I made you wear those red shoes?”
Elisa nodded. Her eyes were round, filled with intrigue and surprise. She could hardly wait for the truth that so long had evaded her.
Her mother’s hands dropped from her waist. “Let’s sit for a minute and drink a máte tea.” She said exhaling a long breath. “I’ll turn the water on. Can you get the gourds and straws?”
After getting all the implements ready for their tea and putting the lamb to cook, both women sat at the round table in the corner of the kitchen. Elisa stared at her mother. She suddenly looked old as she held her face, which had almost disappeared behind her long, white hair. The only sound in the kitchen came from the pressure cooker. The steam from the pot fogged the windows and for awhile they forgot it was pouring outside.
“You were three in that picture,” Elisa’s mother went on. “It was not an easy time for us. I was twenty-three at the most, and pregnant . . . You know how I always liked to dress you with the best? All of you. In those days we bought your shoes in Calpany. Do you remember that shoe store on Picarte Street, next to the bank, close to the plaza? . . . You probably don’t. It closed again. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter. Calpany made the best shoes in the country. They always made them out of leather and they had great support around the ankles. When Allende took over the country, he also took over Calpany, like many other factories during his regime. Calpany was forced to change their production . . . Things weren’t easy for your dad and me. We were allowed only one pair of shoes per child, per year. You were growing so fast . . .” Elisa’s mother paused as her voice began to crack. She took her eyes away from her tea and tenderly looked at her daughter.
Elisa returned a soft smile.
“Did you know your father’s lips used to swell like a couple bananas?” She burst into a nervous laugh.
Read the complete short story “Ugly Red Shoes” on page 86 and other wonderful creations and poem collection for the July 2016, yearly printed, Red Earth Review by Creative Writing MFA, Oklahoma City University.