Gazing at me from sun-glints shimmering like wide smiles on the glass of the window, two red patent leather thigh high boots winked from seventy two eyelets. Fringes running down the centre of each boot fluttered like flirting eyelashes. Two rough suede cat-like tongues rolled as majestic voices spoke soft and low in unison.
“We’ll take you. Wherever you wish, we’ll take you there.”
“Are you really talking?” I asked, looking askance at a pair of shop-soiled scarlet boots in the shoe display. ‘BARGAIN OF THE MONTH — £5’ was attached to the left one in smeared print on a torn piece of dirty white card.
“Yes-ss we are. Purchase us. Pleasant journeys await,” they hissed, long red laces slithering like serpents.
“Don’t think I can afford you,” I bantered, peering at their brooding slits of eyes.
“Can’t afford not to,” they mocked, eyes widening, red irises gleaming through fronds of tasselled leather.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means £5 is a lowly price to pay for our talent and ingenuity.”
“If I buy you, I can’t afford to go out tonight. I’m nearly spent up,” I joked, looking at the Next carriers held tight in the crook of my elbow. “Anyway, you’re not very clean.”
“Brush from us the dust of the earth and we will shine in any place you care to be.”
“Okay, then. Deal. Take me to the Dolce Vita nightclub tonight and you’re on,” I laughed, not quite taking it in.
Am I having a conversation with a pair of thigh-highs?
“You have your deal,” they giggled in high pitched squeals.
“My friends won’t believe this.”
“Ah, but you must never tell,” they warned.
As I dusted down the boots with a damp cloth, they curled and stretched. One of them purred and pawed at me as I eased it onto my foot and up my leg to the centre of my thigh. The other one hooted owl-like as I yanked it over my knee.
“You feel a bit warm,” I said as I admired my dazzling form in red leather boots and black satin short dress.
“Our heat is our splendour,” they buzzed, like bees collecting pollen.
I had no idea what they meant, but the boots were getting hotter.
“Let us proceed.”
“I just need to put in my earrings…”
But I didn’t have time. There was a shushing and a whooshing and — KA-BOOM — there I was, inside the Dolce Vita, surrounded by my friends.
“You said you were gonna be late: you’re bang on time,” announced Vicky.
“Lovin’ the red hot boots, girl,” said Leah, “Where d’you get ‘em?”
“Strange. I didn’t see you come in,” Lola whispered in my ear.
“No, well, I … er …” I answered. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
The boots felt blistering hot around my calves.
“Thank you for the ride, but can you cool me down?” I begged the shiny boots.
Their eyes glowed like hot coals, blinking in the dim light of the club. In a trice, icy sweat was trickling in welcome streams between my toes.
“What?” asked Shona.
“Er… nothing.” I kept quiet: didn’t want to lose the magic.
“Where would you wish to travel now?” my red allies yapped in sharp barks like terriers, tongues lolling over my tanned thighs as I whirled and boogied better than I’d ever danced.
“How about the plains of the Masai Mara?”
Fast as lightning, I was there, in the dead of night. Hyenas laughed; baboons chattered in the distance; a lone vulture screeched from the branch of a long-dead tree.
“Take me home,” I yelled to the sweltering red boots, “I’m terrified.”
I awoke, dripping with sweat, in the cool serenity of the morning. My boots were sitting safely side-by-side against my bedside table, tapping their grass-smeared stiletto heels and humming a soft melodic tune.
Though my feet and legs were seared and blistered, I was besotted. Oh, how I wanted those boots back on. And they’d cool me down whenever I asked. I was sure of it.
“Where are you off to?” Mum shouted from the lounge as I clicked open the front door.
“Not sure,” I hollered back, “Zanzibar, perhaps.”
The moment I said, “Zanzibar” I was there, on a beach strewn with banana palms and coconut trees.
I yelled, “Bondi Beach” and I was there, gazing at huge surf waves.
“Come play volleyball?” a good-looking male called over.
“Cool me down,” I commanded my red thigh highs.
“Of course, my dear. But only if you pledge your heart and soul,” they tittered, like two bright robins.
“My heart and soul are yours.” I bowed, playing their game.
The boots had me soaring high and leaping wide, bounding in cool splendour.
“How d’you play so well?” asked the fit Aussie.
Trying to impress, I panted, “The boots. They’re enchanted.”
A smouldering pain shot up my legs. The boots’ laces tightened. Seventy-two eyes glowered.
“Now you must pay the real price of our worth, my pretty.” They laughed like hyenas.
And with a sound like a volcanic eruption, the sand opened up into a deep chasm.
We shot down into an inferno, the tongues of the boots licking and flicking upward past my waist, over my shoulders and face until I was half crazy with pain.
I gaped at my scorched body. Orange and yellow flames licked me. Blue and white needles of fire charred my skin black.
I was thrown onto a sizzling rock. The boots unfurled their laces and removed themselves from my legs, seizing layer upon layer of skin in their wake.
“Why?” I asked through screams of anguish, “Why would you do this?”
“You told.” Toothy demonic grins leered from the stitching between leather and sole, “Now here you are, in the fiery depths…”
“But I gave you my heart and soul.”
“Precisely,” they screeched like devilish imps. “Precisely.”
Sheila Newton lives in the town of North Shields, on the beautiful North-East coast of England, with her husband and two cats. A retired teacher and nurse with degrees in Nursing and Education, she’s an avid reader, blogger and writer of short stories and travel articles and she belongs to a local writing group. She has had four commissions for travel articles in England and France. Her articles and short stories have been published by various online publishers. She has been published in the small press magazine, Debut, and is awaiting publication in This England magazine. She has won first prize in a competition with online writing community Fan Story, and honourable mentions in the ‘Writers’ Weekly’ 24-hour short story contest. She is a three-time contributor to Flash Fiction Chronicles. She blogs for North East Life magazine and a local blues/rock band.