“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…”
They were on her feet again, dangling there like icicles from a willow tree, dripping dewy gems in the glittering morning light. She couldn’t afford them. She knew it, the sales woman knew it, everyone in the tiny Oxford high street boutique knew it. She was misplaced. A foreign object lodged in an esophagus pipe, the sales assistant choked on her.
She had possessed the shoes five times in all—possessed, but never owned. She had ordered them online, fleetingly bought them on day trips to Bath or London, each time keeping them with her for a few days before the guilt or credit card company came calling. They would then return themselves. Too small, customer changed mind…the excuses rolled into the computer system. She had never bought them from this store, though, it was too close to home. She liked the illusion that her visiting implied—a popular Oxford student in need of new shoes for a gala, a ball, a first date, an evensong (not that anyone believed the scenario as she rolled in wearing her matching Somerville College sweatpants and hoodie). She hadn’t meant to come at all, but the store was so strategically placed between her walk from college to the Bodleian library, she couldn’t help herself. One day she would own them properly, she promised herself, as she always did, lifting her feet off the floor and clicking the heels together like Dorothy. She would mount them in her closet, a specially made shelf, pride of place, an alter to temptations victory, but for now they were a friend she was waiting to bail out of their glossy prison. She put them back in the box, passed them to the snotty sales assistant, and left.
At night they were hers entirely, free from the confines of the store, free from the constant gaze of a shop assistant, free from the bounds of a credit limit. There were no limits to what life could give you when your feet were snuggled up inside the nude court pump. The shoes were all she dreamt about. Soon even her unconscious was not enough space for temptation, and her consciousness too became obsessed. It was no longer about the ownership, it was about what one could become with a pair of shoes like them. They became the epitome of her future; nothing was accessible without them. She brooded on them. Conspired with them. There was nothing healthy about the dedication she took in daydreaming about them. After all, they were only shoes.
All reason was abandoning her. It was the shoes or nothing. If she didn’t have them, she wouldn’t graduate, wouldn’t get a job, would never get married. They were the be all and end all for her as a person. There was no more a solitary, intelligent woman standing against the world, but a solitary woman and her shoes. Without the shoes, she would lose all her identity and become nothing, blend into the background.
The rock was heavy in her gloved hand. Her breath hit the balaclava, the hot air seeping up to fog her glasses. She had wanted them for so long, she could mark the minute and the hour. Who else could claim that? They shimmered in the window, lit by a single spotlight beckoning her forward. They yearned to be worn, she could hear them calling out to her. They wanted her to have them. The rock flew through the panelled glass window.