Once Upon A Time
by Terry Day
“Seven,” he counted. One for each year of his private misery. Eyes closed this time, he imagined himself a brave knight, his shiny steed racing to the mountaintop where fiery dragon awaited him. Reality slapped him with a hard tumble at the top.
Eyes open, he adjusted his loosened lace, so it hung even lower, dangling like fresh bait over the snapping metal jaws; his last hope. Making his seventh descent, he breathed a long, sad sigh. He was no knight in shining armor. He, in fact, was the one who needed rescued.
“Cinderfella,” his friends taunted when, inevitably, he had to stay home to do chores and care for two younger half-brothers. Every bleak day seemed like the one before and the one after. In nightmares, he ate soggy Fruity O’s as the sky pelted him with mounds of dirty diapers. At thirteen, he realized no magic on Earth could save him from feeling worthless and alone.
Almost noon! He had time for one more try. He was hoping for at least a cast on his leg. Then, maybe someone would finally take care of him, for a change.
Too soon, his watch beeped twelve. He saw his mother beckoning, the two trolls by her side. Time for Cinderfella to leave the mall. He knew there would be another day, another opportunity. Reaching his mother, he smiled quietly. He knew the secret passed down the ages—One shoe can, indeed, change your life.