I scuttled across the wet ground, ducking beneath my umbrella as the rain pelted down. My left foot plunked into a shallow puddle; within moments, a distinct squishing sensation accompanied each new step and my foot grew cold and wet…
A large selection of boots was displayed on one wall of the store. I looked at several pairs, running my hands over the soles, dismissing those with plastic smooth bottoms that would not provide proper traction on the wet streets of Vancouver. I settled on an attractive pair of russet leather boots that covered my calves and settled just below my knees.
I waited on a short bench while the eager sales girl scampered to the back room to retrieve my size. My left foot throbbed and rubbed against the fabric of my sneaker. I untied the laces and pulled my foot out to give it some comfort; the swelling had not subsided since waking in the morning. The sales girl returned, bubbling over like champagne, and placed the boots in front of me. I pulled one over my right foot. My thick cotton sock created a bit of friction, but I was successful at manoeuvring my foot inside. I was sure they would be comfortable once I could get them on and walk around. I picked up the left boot, inserted my slightly swollen foot and pulled – nothing happened. My foot wedged just before the heel. I yanked a bit harder without success. I was sure it would fit if I could get my foot past the narrow passage to the bottom; I decided to try it without the extra material of my sock.
I glanced around, making sure the sales girl was not hovering over me as I stealthily removed my left sock, stuffed it in my coat pocket and re-inserted my foot; with a bit of effort, it slid in. I took a short walk around, testing the comfort around my bare swollen foot, and then returned to the bench to remove them. The sales girl stood there expectantly, shoebox in her hand, while I pulled off the right boot, making an effort not to remove my sock with it; the left boot, however, was a conundrum. My rogue sock was tucked inside my jacket pocket, leaving my left foot naked with eminent exposure. Every detective show I ever saw flashed through my head while I tried to think of some distraction to divert the girl’s attention away from the humiliation of my bare foot. I stalled a bit with fluffy chit-chat, and, as luck would have it, the sales girl noticed a new buyer, excused herself and skipped across the store.
I heaved on the left boot with no success. My naked, swollen foot was held hostage within its leather walls. I gripped the bottom with both hands and pulled with all my might, frantically trying to extricate my foot from its prison. The new buyer exited the store and I watched the sales girl approach; she appeared to waltz towards me in slow motion as I pulled, trying to hide the strange grimace that overtook my face in the store mirrors. She strutted over, a big wide smile on her face, no doubt thinking about the commission she might make; when she was intercepted by a fellow employee, I made one final heave, freeing my foot, and frantically pulling my sock back on just as she arrived with the box.
“I’ll take them “, I panted.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.