SILVER SLIPPERS

arabian market
Mousey brown with fiery red potential, she could laugh, cry and make war without pausing to draw breath. The stuff of legend when gift-wrapped, for upon just merest glimpse it is said many a red-blooded cove’s fly buttons would hit the ceiling tout de suite. Unwrapped, in the blink of an eye she could freeze time. On a good day she was ‘sugar and spice and all things not nice’. She had a duplicitous way about her. Fluent in seven languages, yet lately she rarely spoke unless spoken to. Defining her customary demeanour, when interrogated she says she would rather be the disregarded, au naturel mannequin in a Knightsbridge boutique’s window looking out, than a frivolous Sloane Square pavement Ranger looking in. Born of salacious hunger, her lovers’ purely superfluous essentials and regardless each and every one summarily dismissed when their purpose for being was deemed done with; when her hunger had abated. Outlandishly, in these days of enlightenment she asserts being brought into this world via Elohim’s far-fetched metaphor.

I rather like the cut of her jib, she has backbone, yet as of now I must stand back and clinically dissect and assess those facets of her current state of madness that afflict her so severely. Her name is Eve.

My predecessor was at odds to warn me that Eve has the propensity toward violent conduct, whether that be by way of self-inflicted physical harm; experimenting with the ways and means of ‘ending it all’; brutality toward those who would care for her; or on occasion making improper, most provocative sexual overtures to staff, both male and female, is entirely dependent upon her dreams and nightmares du jour. You see, and put in simplest terms, whereas the likes of most to take of our rest and thereafter hopefully wakeup refreshed, Eve is eternally ensnared in deepest sleep in ‘mind’ yet, if sanctioned, overly active in wide-awake ‘body’. It is for that very reason we keep her safe in an unsightly straight-jacket, our compassionate nursing staff providing the comfort of kindness while tending to her dietary requirements and personal hygiene.

I met with her for the first time yesterday, in the cell of softened walls where she is presently lodged. Not that, in the event, it mattered a jot, I thought it a sound idea to be accompanied by one of the nurses she is familiar with so as to remove from the equation any chance of her bewilderment.

“Tell me Eve, where are you? What do you see?”

“You know exactly what I see. You’re here with me, silly man?

“If you would, describe the place where we are together, please,” ever hopeful she might describe her current surroundings.

“Oh, if I must…boring, so very boring!” Notwithstanding, an eloquent Eve continued, “We are beneath an unyielding executioner sun, within the grizzled stone walls of a primordial round city, surrounded and under siege from a ‘kicking its heels’ legion of ever shifting golden dunes for as far as the eye can see, where this very day the matchless monthly bazaar is underway. The Wanderer’s caravans carrying their rubicund faced merchants and all manner of exotic produce arrived before dawn and set up the stalls ahead of first light. Fabrics, spices, leather and jewellery. Ornaments, grains, unleavened breads, fresh fruits and dried. Desiccated fish, goat kebabs, black tea and, somewhere in the shadows presently, cowed and shackled, shapely mortals of all varieties.

Snaking the jigsaw puzzle of pinched, cobbled lanes you and I, lovers in love, stroll toward centre-ville’s market square. The heavenly scent of Frankincense fighting for dear life in the dry atmosphere containing more than just a scattering of horrid wafts of strong tobacco, hashish and camel dung. Combined, the pong is close to overpowering. I am overly excited under the shade of my pretty pink parasol and a respectful headscarf to match. You look so handsome wearing your Panama hat for protection from the sun. Ahead of us, the hustle and bustle of animated womenfolk clad in hijabs, veils, kaftans and burqas, plus males, young and old, fat and thin, in whitest robes. Every so often, a few proud men in scarlet fezzes surface, then are gone. Music too, a haphazard yet pleasing delirium of lutes, flutes and zithers. A cacophony of drums, clapping hands, the whispered on the wind barter and banter, vocals from rooftops, par excellence recitations and pandemic kindred castigations escaping the open windows and levelled rooftops above…and lest you forget, do remember you’ve promised to buy me some of those Arabian slippers with the pointy toe bits at the end, like Aladdin’s. I’d like silver coloured ones…there do you believe me now when I tell you what I see?”

Feeling I needed time alone to digest the lifelike detail of the scene she had painted with spoken words and accepting that to Eve she was verily ‘there’ not ‘here’ I took of my leave.

Homeward bound, the thought struck me that it might be therapeutic for her if I were to acquire the silver pointy toe slippers she claims I promised her. A long shot I know, yet I took a diversion, ventured to Old Spitalfields Market in London’s East End on spec, hoping I might find some. Sure enough, I eventually stumbled upon a stall run by a pleasant enough, tiny chap plainly of Middle-Eastern origins. Whether he was in the process of growing a beard or simply had not bothered to save lately a debatable point. Regardless, following a little haggling a price was agreed. She would have her silver slippers. I felt rather pleased with myself, then quite out of the blue, a peculiar happening for as I made tracks the stall-holder called me back to mention a thing he could not possibly have known, “Eve will adore those mate; they’re her size as well…give her a kiss from me when you next see her.”

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49 thoughts on “SILVER SLIPPERS

  1. The ending..the ending is pure class. It made me chuckle and how because it comes on top of your amazing prose and the whole build up to this exotic world etc.etc. Brilliant piece Mike x

      1. I agree. A floral headband and a white dove in silhouette, tattooed about her person…I need to think more as to exactly where upon her person. Palm of hand is unusual? Hand gestures send out strong messages.

      2. I’m intrigued. My dear wife has had a bat tattoo on her butt for many a long year. When she was pregnant with Zoolon I recall mentioning that the bat had morphed into an albatross. It was then that she thumped me…an unduly hard ‘thump’ I recall!

    1. The slippers arrived late. Believe it or not, prompted by a pair I gifted my dear wife as an extra Christmas present. She tells me that they make a better ornament than an article of footwear! My thanks that you read this piece.

  2. I do not blame the man for needing time to digest. Eve is hypnotic, magical–the last line deems it so.
    Eloquent brilliance shines in every detail of this story-in-a-story. I tip my hat to you, Master Steeden. 🙂 xxxxx

    1. Cheers, Ms Lee. I’m enjoying putting these little snippets to the blog. I feel the key is now to get a feel for the land/place in which Eve’s dreams take her to. A ‘thinking hat’ and possibly several glasses of something red may well be called for!

      1. I’ve just read some of your work. Smooth writing and pertinent words. A very gifted artist for sure. If you don’t mind I mention your blog to my musician son, ‘Zoolon’ when I next bump into him. I know he’ll like your work and follow.

      2. Thank you very much! Such kind words coming from a talented writer. Zoolon is a cool name. Please do send him to my blog, always happy to hear new insights as I try to grow an audience.

    1. The silver slippers. I must have written 100,000 words with those slippers in mind. I am truly touched that you found and liked this one for it was the skeleton I’ve spent hours adding flresh to. My thanks, Inese. You’ve cheered me up given I’ve been afflicted with a fiercer than average common cold for days now. Everytime I sneeze I can’t see a wretched thing out of the left eye. Interesting that I laugh about it. Methinks I’m on the mend. Much more importantly, how are you?

      1. Mike, so sorry you have got a virus! It is a misery, and it hurts your eye. I am taking a huge portion of Vitamin C every day to avoid getting sick as people are sneezing and coughing right behind my back. Vitamin C and optimism is the only cure. I have no optimism these days though. Otherwise I am all right, considering.
        The silver slippers stuck in my head 🙂 What a detail!
        Stay well.

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