The Case of the Flying Shoe

I will freely admit that I am a semi-hoarder.  I am finally cleaning out my college notebooks and text books – it has taken me a while to realize that I will never use them again…I graduated in 1999 so I think it is about time.  As I am going through notebooks filled with class notes I am looking for little keepsakes like poems written during a bored moment in class or a picture doodle that just looks great.  In the search I found the following story which I wrote for my English class.  It is based on a true story but we were told to embellish it.  Give it feeling, life, sound if possible and after rereading it I think I did really well.  I do not know the grade I received as there were no markings on the paper.  Please enjoy a little tidbit of my life.  I am retyping it exactly as I wrote it on July 25, 1997:

The Case of the Flying Shoe

My step-father ruled with an iron fist and a deep controlling voice.  He was a big man with Apache Indian heritage.  He stood 6 feet 4 inches and weighed between 250 and 300 pounds.  Some people would even say that he was a good looking man.  With blue-black hair and piercing Caribbean blue eyes, he could turn heads.  My step-father, the situation and surroundings in which I grew up helped to create the child I was at the time that this story took place.

My family was very isolated and self-contained due to the fact that my step-father did not want the world to know of his depravity.  Outside influences were strictly monitored.  We were allowed to go straight to school or church and directly home.  Only members of the church we were attending at any given time were allowed to discuss our lives.  When they went too far and mentioned an observance they thought were odd we just switched churches.  Yet no matter how much my step-father tried to keep us away from other people he could never totally remove the influence others had on me prior to his arrival in my life.  I was an independent, stubborn, little girl.

The roller coaster ride I was on because of his Jekyll and Hyde personality caused me great confusion and helped in building my rebellion.  Here was a man I both loved and hated and there was nothing I could do to change him.  As a rule he would not allow us to voice our own opinion or disagree with one of his rules and if we tried corporal punishment was his way to stop us.  My mother was as much under his control as we were except hers was more emotional than anything else.

As one of six children I had an abundance of joyful days  Although I had no idea of the total isolation my family was under, I thought I had all of the freedoms that other children had.  I also had a really awesome temper.  I could throw a fit with the best of the best and win.  At an early age I became quite rebellious.  I would fight against anything and everything my step-father wanted me to do whether it was good or bad.  By the time I was eleven years old, aside from the fear I felt every time I came near him I had a huge lack of respect for my step-father.  Even then I knew he did not practice what he preached.  I began to feel he was using the churches we attended as a cover, a clever disguise to make him look like a good, solid, upstanding, community oriented person instead of the immoral, unrighteous person he hid.

Right after lunch on a beautiful fall day, probably on a Saturday, after an early morning trip to collect wood for our wood burning stoves, I got into trouble for something I had not done.  Being the rebellious child I was I threw quite a fit.  I was just trying to get my point across that I wasn’t guilty of what I had been accused.  This act of rebellion only served to get me into more trouble.  After being spanked, I was told to go to my room and not come out until dinner.  Dinner was such a long way off and I could not see myself sitting in my room for hours with nothing to do.   Especially not when my brother or sister who had actually done the horrible crime I got into trouble for went outside to play.  I remember mumbling to myself as I stomped off to my room that “it wasn’t fair, and I would not stay there for long.”  I think I was planning to run away at that moment.

Growing up in the mid-seventies bell-bottom blue jeans and wooden platform shoes or sandals were the craze.  I had a pair of brown platform sandals and when my temper got the best of me that day they just happened to be in my way.  I picked up one of the shoes and threw it as hard as I could.  I was actually aiming for the floor but as I have never been able to throw in a straight line that darned shoe landed on my bed.  Being eleven years old, extremely small and skinny, probably about 3 feet 4 inches tall and around 70 pounds, I didn’t think that my hardest throw would bounce as high as it did off that bed.  In that moment I was so mad that I kind of forgot that a bed bounces.  At eleven what child knows anything about “the angel of projection” or that “force works in an equal but opposite direction.”

The room I slept in at night had two very large picture windows.  One of them just happened to be over my bed.   When that shoe bounced it flew directly at the weakest part of the window.  Which just happened to be lined up exactly with my arm.  I bounced that shoe on the bed with enough force to cause the shoe to fly up to the window exactly in the middle.  As I stood there watching that shoe fly through the air I did not react at first.   When I realized that the shoe was headed directly for the window I did what anyone would do, I jumped on the bed to grab it.  I was way too late, and by jumping on the bed I probably gave it more momentum.  There went my shoe, along with the whole picture window, right outside into the freshly cut wood pile.

Time stopped when I realized I could not catch that shoe.  As I watched, the glass began splintering into delicate little spider web lines as it broke from the center when my shoe hit out to the farthest corners reaching like little fingers into a forbidden candy jar.  Little diamonds of colored light reflected like miniature prisms throughout the room for what seemed like a life time.  Then I heard, like a harbinger of bad news, the crash of the window as my shoe hit it.  After the first loud boom the tinkling of little pieces of glass as they fell into the wood played like a lilting musical melody.  The silence after the music stopped was like being in a vacuum, there were no birds singing, or crickets chirping.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  In that moment the sight and sound of the glass breaking and the smell of fresh cut pine were forever imprinted on my mind.

I jumped off the bed and stood there for several seconds with my jaw hanging on the floor from the shock that I could do something so stupid as to break a window in a fit of rage.  I began praying very hard for two things:  one that my step-father had not heard that crash and two that I could have better aim when I threw things.  Then I waited for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only minutes for him to come running in to see what had happened.

Already afraid and angry at my step-father, when no one came running to see about the commotion, I very quietly sneaked outside.  I ran around the house to the wood pile, grabbed my shoe along with a fairly nice size log and threw them back into my room.  Then I threw a few pieces of broken glass into my room on my bed as well because the whole window had fallen and crashed outside.  I thought of throwing the glass back through the window from something I had read in a Nancy Drew book.  As an avid reader of Nancy Drew Mysteries, I knew there were ways to cover up a crime.  This was a major crime and there was no way I was going to get another spanking that day.   Well, this one I would have deserved, but I wasn’t going to get another spanking no matter what.

When I had hidden my shoes and had the room set up with no incriminating evidence in sight I ran into the living-room crying hysterically.  Alarmed, my step-father asked me “What happened?  Is anything wrong? Are  you hurt?” It was like he had already forgotten that he had spanked me and sent me to my room.  And, he had not heard the shattering of the window.

I held up the piece of wood in my hand to show him.  “No, someone just threw this through the window,” I  lied to him through the hiccups as I tried to dry my tears.

“Did you see who threw it?” he asked.

“No, it just came flying through my window and landed on my bed.”  I told him.  What else could I say, unless I looked in a mirror, I had not seen the person who threw the piece of wood.  At that point he jumped up out of his chair and ran to my room to see if this was true.  He even made me show him where the wood had landed.  I must have been pretty convincing because he believed me.  This was one of the few lies I got away with as a child.  We had just replaced that window about three months before and the relief I felt when he believed me was palpable.  I knew that if my step-father ever found out the truth I would not be able to sit down for a month.

Given my step-fathers stifling treatment of me, in retrospection the significance of this event was that it was one of the few times of great joy and renewal in my young life.  I did not feel shame about my loss of temper or about lying, which my upbringing should have imposed.  Instead I felt relieved and purified from the breaking of the window, and delight that my quick thinking and acting out of a scene from a Nancy Drew mystery had reprieved me from more intense control and oppression.  It was a rare moment at that period of my life when I had control and victory over my oppressor.

The thrill of the occurrence was exciting, joyful, and cathartic.  It marked my character as a fighter who was unwilling to tolerate oppression.  It was a life experience I use today as a benchmark for how I will accept other people’s treatment of me.  It was a moment of great significance in my life and I relish it today.  I finally came clean to my mother about three years ago.  I told her over the phone, long distance.  That way I would not get that well deserved spanking.  My step-father went to his grave never knowing the whole truth about that incident.  I am still in control.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chatter Master
    May 07, 2014 @ 05:53:13

    Wow. Even as a young child you had gumption and courage. 🙂 Good for you!



  2. tric
    May 07, 2014 @ 05:00:12

    Great story. Loved it. You were one feisty little lady, which obviously helped get you to where you are today.



  3. Miriam Dixon
    May 06, 2014 @ 22:37:42

    What a wonderful story, Charlene! You go, girl!!



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