top of page

Red Painted Toes

Another Sunday story. One maybe we've all felt.

He walked toward the apartment, a bag in each hand and his gaze on the tips of his shoes. He was lost in thought about bills to pay and a leak to fix and too many unanswered emails. He let the strap of one bag fall over his wrist so that he could free his hand to reach for the keys in his pocket. That's when he turned the corner and saw red painted toes slipped inside a pair of gold sandals.

Red painted toes slipped inside a pair of gold sandals he once carried across the sand for her.

"Hey," she whispered.

He didn't speak.

"Can I help you with those?" she asked.

Can I help you with those, he wondered. Can I help you with those?

Still, he did not speak. He looked again at her red painted toes and torn jeans, the loose tank top and bracelets and lip gloss and all of the fire in her deep blue eyes.

"Let me grab one," she said.

"Why are you here?" he managed through a hoarse and scared voice.

He could see her chest rise with uncertain breath before she looked away.

The bags became heavy in his hands and he remembered coming home on a different day. He remembered how he'd found empty spaces where her things had been. Empty spaces all over.

"I guess I just came back," she finally replied.

They stood in silence then. And the bags got even heavier.

I guess I just came back.

He felt stuck to that, just stuck. He couldn't move or breathe or think, until she turned her eyes back to him and he saw that small smile forming in the corner of her mouth.

That's when he knew.

So he began to move, to move passed her. But it was tight. It was too tight. He had to twist and push and turn and he had to feel her warmth and meet her gaze, and it was really hard. But he did it.

He felt her warmth and he met her gaze and then he twisted a little more. He twisted and he pushed and he turned and he just kept going. And he felt it. Finally he felt it.

He felt his going.

The door was open and he set the bags inside. He turned back to her then, met her gaze once more, felt her warmth. But he felt her empty spaces too. He felt them all over.

"Can I just come in for a minute?" she tried. "Can I just talk to you?"

Red painted toes slipped inside a pair of gold sandals he once carried across the sand for her.

"No," he told her. "You can't."

bottom of page