Autumn Tale

By Kerry White

I drove on a cool autumn afternoon down an empty two-lane road enjoying the aging cornfields and farm houses of rural Illinois.

In the middle of the road lay a child’s lone shoe, standing upright, heel to the right and toe to the left. The leather slip-on seemed in good shape. I know this because I slowed down to look at it closely, my window rolled all the way down. The road here was surrounded by farm fields, devoid of human life except for me … and a child’s solitary shoe.

I began to wonder what combination of serendipity or malice might have ended in such a forlorn figure on the grey and black asphalt. Was it a kidnapping, a signal to others I’m here, help me … flung out the widow after a furious struggle? Or perhaps a car was loaded to the extreme with treasured possessions traveling to a new home and hit a rut, the shoe catapulted into the air to land askew on the yellow dotted line.

Lost. Lonely. Its partner forever seeking its mate. Does it pine for the other? Do shoes have feelings or souls?

In the rearview mirror a car topped a small hill and approached. I felt I must move…and yet I glanced down again at the shoe, intrigued by its appearance and mystery in my life. I waved at the driver to go around me and received a “What the hell…” look. I knew I had created a problem for the driver of the other car. Actually, a mystery just for that person: “Today I passed a man blocking the right lane, staring at a castaway shoe in the road  … crazy people!”

I resisted the impulse to open the car door, lean over and retrieve the shoe. I thought to myself: that just might spoil the moment, upset the mind’s machination. What if I found it to have a hole in the sole or a loose heel? Case closed, intrigue ended, mystery solved. That’s not what I wanted. Today, I decided, I needed some secrecy to this, a bit of whimsical fascination on this cool autumn afternoon.

I rolled up the window, placed the car in drive and left. The image of that lost shoe filled my mind for long miles later, after numerous hills were crested and the sun set on a beautiful day.

Kerry White has seen 66 years but never really left the 60’s. Mid western by culture he seeks far horizons and different life views. Retired from the normal work day after years in graphic arts, White currently embraces the discipline of writing.

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