In these shoes

Photo of four shoes
Photo by Zoe Davies

In these shoes is a 13 minute radio documentary created by RMIT student Zoe Davies, and colleagues. It is a collage of music, stories and vox-pops inspired by the photo above.

‘Abandoned and tucked away in a corner of Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD, I stumbled across two pairs of abandoned shoes and was instantly struck by their storytelling potential,’ said Zoe. ‘I was intrigued by how these tattered shoes came to be placed so perfectly yet so insignificantly. Struck by their presence, I began to think about kinds of stories that could emerge in attempting to explain how they came to be placed in that exact position, in that location, at that present time.’

Zoe kindly asked me to contribute and I spontaneously wrote some short, very shor,t fiction. It was probably the first piece of fiction I’d written in more than 25 years.

RMIT student Madeline Rebecci read my little contribution, bring a female voice and sensibility to the words.

For the full context, pop on the kettle and listen to all of In these shoes.

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I try to love him again or should I leave once and for all?

Should I walk up those steps to his place or should I turn around and not look back?

I know he’s home. He always leaves his shoes by the front door. His daggy brown leather slip-ons, there on the steps. It was his way of saying he was home. And it was his way of saying, Mind the carpet.

I liked the way he polished one shoe, the left, and let his other shoe fade with the weather.

I liked the way he seemed conservative: neat hair, smart casual clothes, fresh socks every day. But then there were his favourite shoes. A pair, of course, but like odd socks almost. An odd couple.

He was right-footed. And he used that right foot to brake when we rode through the city in the dark. He’d dink me, for once throwing caution to the wind. We’d roll all the way down Flinders Lane, from Spring St to Spencer St and that right shoe would do most of the braking. I’d sit on the bar, side-saddle, my hands in the middle of the handle-bars. His arms would reach out around me to the grips on the handle-bars. I felt safe, like I was enclosed.

But, eventually, too safe. Too enclosed.

He liked city life, especially the order of it. And that apartment in the CBD: sealed and secure. Like a cocoon.

I liked it too, for a while. Needed it.

But my favourite shoes missed the open spaces. Those blues shoes were so light. Not much more than soles, really. They hardly left a footprint, hardly left a trace. Especially here in the city, on the footpaths and steps.

They weren’t city shoes, really. They made me feel nimble. It was almost like walking barefoot. Naked soles.

Not like brown leather slip-ons.  They were for, what’s the word, strolling.  Ambling.  Pausing.  And then sitting down.  And stopping.  Inside that apartment.

I preferred to keep moving.

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