(short story by Olivia Forgione)
I left everything behind; even the rose colored heels that received a workout in jeans, dresses and sometimes little else in front of a mirror. It was a decision made between myself and a barren room that contained so many invisible items it was hard to find the courage to leave. There were no eclectic furniture pieces, nor accents or normal accouterments that you would find in the life of a random twenty-something year old. There were no bad feelings left really. The invisible items included a laundry list of what made up bad relationships.
The walls spoke volumes. Contained in these walls were the constant arguments whose anger ricocheted back and forth. The screams, yells and unimportant anguish that became a part of the room never left that chamber. They were common arguments. The arguments ran the gamut from financial issues, which eventually led to questions about infidelity, and finally whether this whole thing was really, actually going anywhere. We both knew that it was not. He would leave in the morning from our place not so much happy with the situation, but content to let it continue. He did this because he knew nothing else. I was in the same state of mind, but for the longing of an eventual escape.
At the time, I knew, the release was far down the line. But at that point, the words between us at lower decibels had ceased-save for a few procedural conversations. “What are you wearing to the party?” I would ask. To which he would reply with an empty shrug or an indifferent glance. He may have reluctantly pulled a random suit from his mess of a closet, only to keep the tortured situation going while appeasing me in the process. I would slip on the rose heels. He didn’t mind. Just so long as the talk was few and far between, and —he could return to whatever he was doing prior to the life in society I was trying to have for the both of us.
In all honesty, I could have worn a clown suit and he would have asked something like, “how long would we have to stay” at the event as opposed to why I may have had on a big red nose or floppy shoes. That was the modus operandi. At first he thought what I did was cool, and all the people I met were so very interesting. That was when the relationship had more time in front of it than behind. Now, to him at least, the wonder and interest of my profession was as boring as our horizontal life.
The existence wasn’t all tortured and there were bright moments, even in the doldrums of random relationship happenings. The first time we met, I was wearing the rose heels. They had brought me luck in the past so I figured why not wear them? He made some sort of joke about how the heels added to my height and how he’d have to prostrate himself to kiss me (assuming he was getting one at all). He loved the heels as well, or at least he said that he did. At one point, he surprised me by purchasing some designer variation of the rose heels, only these were pumps as opposed to sling backs. The rose heels had been with me through every fight, both physical and verbal. When I threw the salad bowl across the room, -with the salad still in it- he grabbed me by my arm and lifted me (not ignoring my “new” weight which had grown since finding the comfort of a relationship). I was wearing the heels.
When he left me on the corner after a wonderful dinner that went awry around the time the check came, I was wearing the heels. Hailing a cab with heels in hand and bare feet on the cold pavement gave me time to think about this situation. Sure we weren’t living together at the time, and I had done some equally mean spirited things, but you never leave a woman in her heels on the street, alone.
Even after that incident, I moved in with this man. We had an up and down relationship but I loved him whether it led to a feeling of ruin, or whether I was in complete rapture. He gave me nothing, yet I felt like I received so much.
I stared at the bare walls as if I half-expected him to come shuffling in; asking me where I was going. The rose heels lay there in the middle of the room. I put the keys on the counter and locked the doorknob from the inside. My friend laid heavily on the horn of her car to the dismay of my neighbors. I was ready to close this chapter of my life, and the door…
But I couldn’t.
Throughout all the pain and all the arguments, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There was so much I wanted to say and I am certain I said it. But something was left unfinished. I opened the door and ran back inside, still hoping to avoid him. I picked up the rose heels that I left behind as a last vestige of my flawed relationship. Although I turned my back on a major part of my life and sacrificed a lot, the heels were the one thing I wasn’t willing to give up.
Olivia Forgione is a fiction writer living in New York City