Annie's Red Shoes

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In my neighbourhood there lived a girl who, among her many heirlooms, inherited a pair of red shoes. Her name was Annie. Annie was well versed in all the trouble that may come to one who wears red shoes, but she decided she would disregard it.

She took the beautiful shoes down from a shelf and out from a box, and put them on her feet. Then she stood in front of a mirror and admired how lovely they were. Unfortunately, they were a grown woman’s shoes, and did not fit, but she did not care. Whenever there was nobody watching, Annie put on her shoes and danced around the attic, making the clickety-click noise with their firm black heels. After her play, she carefully put them away, and did not miss to care for them even once, though, after a while, she stopped to play the game.

When Annie was invited to her very first dance, however, her immediate thought was to put on the red shoes she had kept all those years. She hurried to find them, put them on and clickety-clicked in them around the house. But her mother bought such a beautiful blue gown that matched the colour of her eyes, and her aunt a pretty gold sash, and her godmother a pair of shoes that matched the outfit so perfectly, that the red shoes seemed old and unfashionable.

And when she thought about them again – on the day she was to marry the sparkly-eyed youth she had met at the dance – they most certainly did not go with the white bridal dress, although Annie tried them on and enjoyed their clickety-click sound. And when she considered taking them on her honey-moon, the box simply did not fit the luggage, and they were left behind.

Then the Annie became a mother, and she only wore sensible shoes in which she could run and do errands, and the red pair stayed in their hiding place. Most days she forgot about them, but once she did remember, and tried to put them on her feet, but these were now a little too broad. And though the shoes still clickety-clicked, Annie barely managed two steps in them before she fell down and twisted her ankle. So the shoes were again returned to a shelf, with half a mind to give them to her own daughter once she was all grown.

That silly girl laughed at them and said they were ghastly and would not even take them in her hands, to feel how well they were made. Annie therefore kept them, and put them on the shelf once again, with a sigh so tiny it was inaudible.

In time, Annie grew old and wise enough not to try the red shoes any more. Still, as the days of her life drew to a close, she would fondly take them out, and stroked them thoughtfully, as if they were a cat. This was how they found her one morning, with a smile on her lips, and the pair of red shoes in her lap.

When they prepared Annie for the funeral, they found her old feet had wrinkled and withered so much no shoes would fit. Then, considering nobody would actually see them, they put the red shoes on Annie’s feet, and buried her so. They fit perfectly, and let out only the barest of clickety-clicks while the coffin was closed. It was such a lovely sound that it was remarked how Annie’s soul must have gone to the heavens in those shoes.

They still say in the neighbourhood that if you listen carefully when the storm is coming, you will be able to hear the clickety-click sound coming from the clouds. And when they are coloured red by the setting sun, it is hard not to imagine the happy old woman dancing in the sky, finally wearing her red shoes.

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