Bland Stuff

A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time someone told me this story.

“There was a girl about your age, and just like you she had freckles, and just like you she forgot to wash up after she had a snack. This girl grew up not too far from here, and what she loved more than anything was high heels.

“Even before she could walk, she stared and stared at those ladies in their high-heeled shoes. She watched them tip-toeing up and down the streets, unsteady like baby giraffes. As she grew into a toddler and then a little girl and then a teenager, she tried to copy the way that they walked. They say that for months at a time her heels never touched the floor.

“She begged and begged her parents to let her have a pair of heels, just little heels, she said, but they resisted. Finally, when she turned fifteen, they relented a little and got her a pair of kitten heels; the lowest heels you’ve ever seen. But she didn’t care. She wore them day and night.

“Eventually, though, she got tired of living so close to the ground. She got a job at the local greasy spoon; for £4.50 an hour she wiped down tables and cleaned grease out of the back of the oven. By the time she was done, it could hardly be called a ‘greasy’ spoon at all anymore.

“She took her wages and bought another pair of shoes, these ones just a little higher than the first pair, and for a while she was happy; she loped up and down the streets, as graceful as anything.

“But the same thing happened; these heels became her new flats and she worked hard again and bought an even taller pair.

“This went on until not too long ago. She was walking down the street one day, by now five or six inches taller than her besocked self, when something in a charity shop window caught her eye; nestled between a velvet dress and an inexplicably massive Vaseline tin were the highest high heels she’d ever seen – and she’d seen a few.

“She didn’t hesitate; those shoes were hers. She carried them home under her arm, determined to practise with them as soon as she got home.

“They were everything she’d hoped; her toes might have been on the ground, but her ankles were celestial. The heels themselves were so sharp they sliced the floor open, but she didn’t care. She slept wearing her new shoes.

“That night, there was a sharp frost. The whole world turned white as bone and brittle as burnt sugar; there had never been such a frost. In a single night, summer died and winter froze its body solid.

“Our heroine didn’t know any of this; all she wanted to do, as the sun rose on the newly icy world, was debut her shoes to everyone.

“But when she stepped outside, those heels, those daggers of heels, cracked the frost and the frozen pavement beneath it. The whole world broke like cold glass under a hammer, and to this day archeologists are looking for slivers of it.

“But we all lived happily ever after, anyway.”

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