“What the …?”

Groggy somewhat for the short three hours of sleep, he rose up from bed trying to forget the last few days of extreme swings in his luck, from a nobody to a somebody to possibly back to his old status of wallowing in self-pity.

Still removing with his finger the dried rheum that accumulated at the corners of his eyes, he walked toward the door like a zombie, staggering out slowly. Unfortunately, he did not see the objects on the floor which nearly tripped him over.

“What are they doing here?” he asked himself, seeing the dreaded shoes at the center of the doorway.

He was alone upstairs, a correct observation since the noise downstairs came from his brothers and sisters. They could be so annoying that he preferred to be alone most of the time.

Without any intention of wearing the shoes, he hid them on a cupboard near the second-floor bathroom. He was sure his siblings would not bother to rummage through it.

They were watching TV, uncannily silent while viewing a once-popular video that could be older than them all.

He went directly to the kitchen where his parents shared a late breakfast. It was only Wednesday but a holiday so everybody had a day off.

“Can I go to the town center?” he asked, interrupting their small talk.

“What was that last night?” his father asked, still undecided to give him permission.

“Oh, just a nightmare,” he said casually. “Nothing more to it.”

“Your brothers and sisters asked us earlier if you were afraid of something.”

“Me? Afraid of what?”

“Ghosts!” shouted Max from behind him, startling him momentarily. His brother, a year younger, would not pass a day without irking him. “Your shoes walk around at night.”

Wilson would really like to give his brother a deserved slap on the head but he controlled himself. Besides, he would appear guilty if he did so, especially in front of his parents.

“You are just jealous!” he retorted. “Your shoes have holes.”

Defeated, Max frowned and complained directly that he be bought a new pair, too.

“In time, just wait,” their father said, diffusing the tension.

“You can have the shoes if you want,” Wilson sounded charitable.

“Do you mean it?” Max could not hide his elation. “Are you sure?”

“Your brother is teasing you,” their mother said. “He is very fond of them.”

“I can still manage with my old pair, Ma. Max deserves new shoes than me.”

“Pa! Ma! Please agree! I want them!”

“Are you sure Wilson?” their father asked. “It would take time before I could give you money to buy yours.”

He nodded, smiling at his younger brother. Deep inside, he was celebrating for dumping what he believed a curse to another person, the irksome Max.

“Say thanks, Max! You should be proud to have a very understanding older brother.”

“I won’t pester you again, Wilson. I promise.”

“I am sure your classmates will envy you!” he said, gently patting Max on the head.

His parents looked proud, sensing that their eldest was starting to learn what maturity was about.

“Can I go?” he asked once more.

“You have our permission. Just be back before four.”

“Do you have money?” his mother asked.

“I still have my change after I bought the shoes,” he replied, showing them the hundred peso bill.

(to be continued)



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