If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that from time to time I post some creative writing exercises and prompts that I’ve worked on. It’s a way for me to improve on my writing skills and hopefully receive some feedback and helpful criticism from you guys, my loyal readers. Sometimes the prompts come from a cool little writing community known as Write On Edge, and sometimes the ideas are plucked straight out of my head. Scary, I know.
Today, I ventured out into the World Wide Web in search of a new idea for a prompt. Something outside the box a bit. I wanted to write a little fictional story, but was looking for a unique spin on it, something more interesting than the typical hum-drum short story. That’s when I came across this website and the following prompt:
“You are in a waiting room (doctor’s office, job interview, etc.). People are sitting more or less in a circle. Describe several of them — focussing only on their feet! Type of shoes, cleanliness and condition of shoes, toes if they show, how they let their feet rest. Are they quiet or do the feet move? What can you tell about the person from the feet?”
So without further ado, I give you a little story I’m tentatively calling “Slightly Scuffed Black Bostonians”.
The steady beat of time echoes through the room, bouncing off the taupe colored walls and into our ears. We’re strangers, yet the increasing hatred we share towards the clock on the wall seems to join us together somehow. The waiting room is filled with 18-month-old magazines and the palpable feeling of anxiety. No one is speaking. The only sounds come from that damn clock and the tapping of feet.
To my left is Dark Brown Oxfords. Only one foot at a time makes contact with the floor as his legs are crossed, leaving the other gently bouncing up and down using his knee as a fulcrum. As his stay in the waiting room lengthens, I notice the speed of his bouncing foot increasing. He’s getting frustrated. The color of his socks so perfectly matches that of his shoes, it’s nearly impossible to determine where one ends and the other begins. With every bounce of his foot, the fluorescent lights of the room send beams in every direction thanks to the fresh shine on those Steve Maddens.
Since he arrived, now upwards of 25 minutes ago, his foot has not stopped bouncing. I can tell he wishes he were any of a hundred other places than here. He’s important, probably a lawyer or executive, and sitting here in the doctor’s office seems beneath him. By the steady cadence of that bouncing foot however, I have a feeling there’s no one more important to him than the doctor he’s about to see.
Sitting across from Dark Brown Oxfords is Black and Red Hightops. I look down at my own shoes, noticing how they pale in comparison to these behemoths. As he adjusts his lanky frame, trying to get comfortable in such small chairs, the rubber treads of his sneakers squeak on the vinyl tile. As he settles into the least obtrusive position he can find, his giant Nikes skid, slide, and then come to rest side by side. His sweat pants are so long, the bottoms gather under his heels as he sits and I can make out the words Lakewood High embroidered on them. Probably here for a physical, I think to myself as I recall how brief my high school basketball career was, largely due to my 5’6″ frame.
A few seats over from Black and Red Nikes is a couple. The woman, Fur-lined Clogs, gently nuzzles her right foot in between those of her partner, Light Brown Loafers. He spreads his feet to allow her room, then closes them around the grey slip-on as if giving it a hug. They were the most recent to arrive, maybe 10 minutes ago at the most, and have been playing footsie since taking a seat. As if I didn’t already have an idea of the reason for their visit, the dried vomit stain on her left foot told the tale. Morning sickness.
I smile as I lean forward, placing my elbows on my knees and my forehead in the palms of my hands. I look down at my black Bostonian slip-ons, slightly scuffed but definitely serviceable, and take a deep breath. I sit back, adjusting my tie as the door to my right opens. Everyone looks, wondering if it’s their turn to finally leave the deafening sound of the clock and face the reason for their visit. The doctor’s assistant appears in the doorway and calls my name.
“Are you ready for your interview Dr. Smith?” The young woman asks.
“Of course.” I reply as the door closes behind me. As we walk down the hall towards the office of the man I may soon call partner, I think about the folks I left in the waiting room. Does Dark Brown Oxfords have any idea what the stress of his life is doing to his health? Will I be seeing Black and Red Hightops in the NBA some day soon? Are Fur-lined Clogs and Light Brown Loafers ready for the adventures of parenthood?
She leads me into an office and I take a seat as I await the arrival of the man who will potentially decide the future of my career. My feet bounce up and down in anticipation until I hear the doorknob turn and the door open. The first things I see are his feet as he enters the room. Slightly scuffed, black Bostonian slip ons. I smile. I think I’m going to like working here.
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