My pops taught me, to look good you must have the right shoes. Now, he took off when I was 17, but he instilled in me that desire to look good, and I really loved my shoes. I had four pair of alligator skin in different colors, and two pair of Italian leather.
My moms always said to me about my shoes, “James, when you goin’ put them childish things down and grow up.”
Humph. I thought I had done that in September 2007, when I enlisted in the army. I told my moms that I was just… temporarily switching from one style to another. That day I left for boot, my moms told me to be careful, I was.
For three years, seven months, and fourteen days. On that day my world turned upside down outside Sanjin, Afghanistan. They told me later that Hank and Lightfeather were killed outright and Jake lasted three days. It was eight months before I got sent home.
My moms met me at the airport. The attendant brought me to a stop right in front of her. Already crying, she knelt down and held me, her sobs of ‘Oh my beautiful boy’ muffled in my jacket. I managed to find my voice long enough to say, “Mom… guess I finally got to put those childish things down.”
“James, you don’t hafta worry ‘bout that now, son. When you get those new legs, we will gets you some fancy shoes that fit.”
Four years have passed since I got my new legs and moms bought me my first pair of Ferragamos. I sit here, moments before my wedding, tying the laces on a new pair of fancy shoes, thinking about her.
I miss my moms—
Steven Hicks is currently a graduate student in English Literature after starting over at the age of 50 with the encouragement of his wife. Sharing his love of writing with a new love of teaching, he is attempting to find balance between the two at La Sierra University in Riverside California. “Childish Things” is his second published short story.
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