Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Realistic Fiction

Dear Students,
    This semester I really am practicing what I preach.  It has been challenging to PUBLICLY share my writing' however, I really must admit that THINKING SOMEONE might actually read this has spurred my fact, I should be responding to YOUR stories right now.....but I am putting the finishing touches on mine.... I must admit I am pretty proud of this realistic fiction just in case one of my neices or someone who knows my mother should stumble across this blog some day, remember that this is realistic FICTION!  However, my mother really does love shoes and would be pretty proud to see her image on the AARP magazine.
   I really do want to share credit for the ending of this story with my incredible grad students whose ideas served as mentor texts for my own writing.  IF SOMEDAY this story is published, I will happily share the royalties with you all; but, don't count on this as your life savings!

                      Shoes Fit for a Lady

Natalie grew up LOVING shoes. She coveted her sister’s Army issued heels. She adored the pearly white patent leathers stashed in the back of the closet after her sister’s fiancé died in the war. Whenever Natalie went to the post office or to the grocer, Natalie always meandered past Lustig’s Department Store where pointy heels and delicate flats sat patiently in the window awaiting customers. She grew up in serviceable tie flats; however, Natalie dreamed of wearing stylish shoes and dancing in elegant heels.

As she married and started her own family, Natalie’s affinity for shoes grew. She proudly took her young daughters into the best shoe store in town for back-to-school shoes. Natalie polished those shoes every day - all year through! No matter what her shopping mission in town, Natalie lingered at the shoe store window coveting the latest styles and colors. Natalie mended socks and saved pennies to make sure her girls had the best available school shoes; yet, she continued to dream of the stately heels and the delicate leather pumps that graced the shoe store windows.

Over the years, Natalie’s dreams and savings led her to many magical pairs of heels: heels that went to the office; heels that looked great with short skirts; heels that turned heads and heels that danced the night away! Natalie kept her treasured collection in their original boxes neatly at the back of her closet. Like trophies, they sat in retirement celebrating her daily adventures and commemorating special moments.

The years of wearing heels to work, shop and party took their toll and over time, her feet became crippled with arthritis and her toes became painful appendages. While Natalie’s social circle was significantly altered, trips to the A&P and CVS had become excruciating reminders of her feet’s limitations. Shortly after her 80th birthday, Natalie found it difficult to even walk, so, she agreed to her daugher’s request to check out the shoes at Hellers, where they wait on you like "in the old days." The goal was to find a pair of comfortable and light weight shoes that would not hurt!

They started the journey eyeing soft and sensible flats that were marketed as “medically advised.” Then, the duo meandered over to the walking sneakers with soft interiors and outrageous prices. Natalie was not enamored with either the look or the price of any of those shoes but she agreed to try on "a few pairs" of shoes.

In reality, she tried on more than 25 pairs of shoes! There were soft leather shoes with price tags greater than her first car and gorgeous sneakers with delicate trim, but none of them fit right. Finally, Mario pulled out a pair of pink sneakers. "I could NEVER wear those," Natalie asserted as they were pulled from the box. “I could never wear red again!” Yet, those pink sneakers were soft, light, lovely and even well constructed! Sadly, they were not available in any other color! So, against her better judgment, Natalie walked around Hellers making sure they were better to walk with than to look at! As she was checking out her pink sneakers, Natalie looked wistfully at a group of young ladies trying on shoes that would evoke a smile from Lady Gaga. Natalie strongly encouraged those girls," Wear them now while you can."

As she reluctantly paid for her new shoes, Natalie continued a running commentary on the discriminatory practices of the shoes industry. “There is no reason in this day and age that these are the only shoes you have for an old lady,” she invoked repeatedly to her audience of shoe salesmen and customers who all noticed Natalie’s passion and spirit. What Natalie did not notice, was that one of the young ladies was moved by the plight of the pink sneakers and immediately began working on a solution.

The next few months were busy ones for Natalie as she was able to shop and walk better than in many months. They were also busy ones at the New Balance design center where Cara, in spite of her Lady Gaga style heels, worked. There were a few incredibly busy months in the new design department and in the test marketing area which resulted in a new line of incredibly stylish yet totally practical shoes for women who wanted to look great in the years after they retired their heels. There was a push to launch this new initiative and most people implored, “Why didn’t I think of that!”  New Balance executives and stock holders were all very excited about the biggest new idea in many years.

Over in marketing, someone asked about the woman whose pleas had launched this initiative and after much searching, Natalie was located. It was indeed the beginning of a whole new shoe business.

Then one afternoon, Natalie's daily trek to the mailbox was extra special. A glossy AARP magazine lay nestled between her Cablevision bills and CVS fliers. Natalie knew even before she glanced at the familiar image on the cover that her pleas for stylish shoes had been heard. The smiling face implied what Natalie already knew. New Balance’s brand new shoes, the Natalie, were stylish like their namesake, light as a feather and as comfortable as slippers. They were available in many colors and the price was within the reach of those who had retired their heels. Natalie glanced down at her new shoes and pulled the magazine to her chest muttering softly, “I am so very thankful for these shoes.” Thanks to a chance encounter over a pair of heels, the future was indeed brighter, not just for Natalie, but for stylish ladies of every age!

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