the arc of a new rebirth in a different world



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No one has ever told me if they found their shoes.

Not that it matters. I could have told them.

It's all taken care of. I already know who found them. I've already told my family about it. It's been a week since my death, and they don't know about the shoes.

I wouldn't blame them. I would have done the same thing. I would have taken the shoes to my grave with me.

I would have worn them on my final day.

They're blue. They have a pale golden strap and the label reads: walter. They're the kind of shoes a man wears in his spare time. The kind of shoes he wouldn't have worn on the day of his death. He would have worn something more formal.

It's too bad my dad didn't find the shoes. It would have meant a lot to him.

I already know who wears those shoes. I know it with absolute certainty. I have watched him. Watched him walk his dog for three years.

He never even noticed me. I could have been standing right beside him and he wouldn't have seen me. I could have been staring right at him and he wouldn't have seen me. He would have carried along his daily routine. Look left, then look right then continue walking. That's all that has ever mattered to him.

He never saw me, even though I was right there.

But he found my shoes.

He stood on my porch. He stared at my shoes. Then he looked around. He looked to my front door and then he looked around.

My father never had a good eye for details. He's a lawyer. He's always going to see the big picture but not always see the details that make up the big picture.

And my father never found those shoes.

My father doesn't know about the shoes. I don't want him to.

I folded one of the thin pages of an old text book and set it on the counter. I forced a rusty nail through a thin hole in its pages and fastened it on the door. Then I attached a thick piece of yarn to it and tied the other end around through the handle of the shoe. Then I tied the yarn into a thin knot to secure it.

I stood in the bathroom, fiddling with my hair. My wedding was here in thirty minutes. I wanted to look nice. I wanted to look good. I wanted to look beautiful.

I walked in front of the mirror and smiled. I ran my hand on the glass and my reflection responded. I smiled. I was happy.

I had the same dress all the weeks I lived in the hospital. I never got to change.

I walked to the living room where my mother was stitching together my marriage necklace.

"How does it look?" I asked.

"It's beautiful," my mother replied.

"Are you sure?"

"It'll be perfect when it's done."

"It's fine the way it is."

"It'll be perfect when its done."

I stood next to her and watched the needle stitch the color.

"I was thinking about a song," I said. "Do you think I should listen to it before my wedding?"

"It's always good to listen to your song on your big day," my mother said.

"Okay. I'll do that."

"I also have a present for you."

"You do? What is it?"

"It's a surprise."

I missed my dress.

I missed the dress of the woman in the hospital, the one on the bed next to mine. We shared the same room. I remember waking up every single morning to see her in the bed next to me.

She always wore white. Always. She would arrive in a thick, white, coversuit that never fit her. She wore a pair of white slippers. That was all she had. The garments were so thick. It was like she was traveling through snow.

But she hated being white. She was always itching. She hated the white of her sheets and her pillows and her towels and her robe and the white of her gown.

She hated the white of her clothes.

She didn't like the white of her skin.

The first day I came to the hospital, she stopped me in the hall. She was sitting on the bench, staring at the floor and working on her gloves.

"Hello," she said.

"Hello."

"How are you?"

"Fine."

"That's all right. How are you?"

"I'm fine."

"It's nice what you're doing. It's good to help others."

"I'm lucky to do that."

"I know how you feel."

"How so?"

"You're not going to enjoy my company."

"I don't understand."

"I have a disease."

"I don't want to be rude."

"Don't worry about it."

I look down at my shoes. I start to put them on. I look at the old shoelaces I've tied a dozen times.

I remember wearing those shoes. I remember walking out of the house and going to graduate school.

I remember going out and walking my dog.

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