“Are you going to school?”
His mother did not hide her doubts when he nodded, the suspicious glance at him was both a warning and an ultimatum: behave.
Wilson had every reason to attend his classes. For the first time, he felt overly confident that he was about to change how his classmates treated him. He was less of a beggar-looking with his newly-acquired shoes. And, he had no intention to tell anyone where they came from.
Punctuality was not his best trait. As usual, he was late. But only a few minutes, which was also a first. Ordinarily, he was often reprimanded for coming half an hour into the session.
When he entered the door, he saw them looking down: his shoes were instant magnets to their sight.
At recess, curious classmates admired his shoes, milling around him as if he was Cinderella who fitted the glass shoes.
“Where can I buy a similar pair?” chorused those envious.
“It’s one of a kind,” he boasted. The lie was essential to his plan: someone would buy it from him for triple the price he paid for.
“I’ll ask my father to get one done for me,” Sonny said, carefully inspecting the design. His foreign-made sneakers looked cheap beside Wilson’s footwear.
Wilson was the center of attraction, for once. As long he wore his pair, he would be for a long time.
– 0 –
The silence of the morning was disturbed by his agitated alarm.
“Where are my shoes?” he hollered. “I left them outside my room.”
His younger brothers and sisters came out of their rooms, thinking there was a fire. Figuratively, there was. Wilson eyed them menacingly, wildly guessing that one of them or all of them decided to make him an unwitting victim of a prank.
“Stop shouting!” his mother yelled back from downstairs. “Come here and tell me what exactly are you mad about.”
“My shoes,” he said meekly. “They’re not upstairs.”
“I saw them outside,” she said, angered by his disturbance. “You forgot, as always, to keep your things where they rightfully belong.”
Wilson could not remember if it was his fault or someone did indeed hide the shoes while he was asleep.
– o –
He flaunted them with a lively gait, as if he was a prized horse in a dressage competition. Those who saw him walked in such manner offered him different reactions from friendly grins to malicious smirks.
Wilson did not care what they thought of him. No one could spoil his high spirits.
However, in school, he was dismayed to find out he was relegated to second fiddle, not because Sonny wore a similar pair like his, but due to a more sensational information that even he was nerved to learn about.
He pretended to tie his shoelaces near a group of underclassmen, near enough to overhear their conversation.
“Have you heard about the crash a kilometer from the town center a week ago?”
“Yeah! That was awful! The lone victim lost his feet!”
“There was talk going around that the police has not recovered them. They disappeared.”
“What do you think happened?”
“They probably walked away unharmed,” jested someone, a bit insensitive to the news.
“That’s not funny!” another listener angrily admonished the joker.
“The police met with one of the victim’s relative who informed them that the dead wore expensive walking shoes.”
“No wonder those feet disappeared. Someone took them for the shoes.”
“I am sure that whoever took them would never wear them but rather sell them for a hefty price.”
Everyone agreed to the assumption.
Wilson, too, arrived at a similar conclusion.
Involuntarily, he stared at his footwear. The thought that someone originally owned them, a dead man if it was true, gave him the chills. Recalling how the pair who sold the shoes to him were too relieved for the sale, Wilson was not sure if he was still willing to keep them.
(to be continued)