She left them, the boy says, pointing.

She left her shoes by the front door, toppled carelessly, leaning on one another like sagging torsos after a long day. He bends down to touch them, stroke them, the subtle scuffs on the sides and the worn down heels, the support he never had. They were her favorites.

He can remember fluttering black dresses, the hems brushing her knees and hinting, always hinting, moving up a sculpted map of waxed and dimpled skin. The soles, ridges rubbed smooth on nights when she would trap men and store them in her locket, shiny souveniers. She'd come home when the back door buckled under her weight, smiling and swollen with short puffs of alcohol that radiated his eardrums. Come here, sugar.

He can remember thinking her hands are ice, and wondered why it didn't sound like an original thought. Her fingernails were long, red, probing. The zip of his jeans echoed every other zip that lingered in her hair, every other night, every other man willing to peel back layers of skin to expose... something. The thing that passed attention like butter at the dinner table, the thing that slipped out of his grasp, launched out the back door, and landed with those shoes.

The ones that brushed his calf while she whispered.

Mama loves you.

She promised.

His hair, bristled under my chin, shoulders folded neatly under my arms like a pressed shirt, he swears. She loved me, she loved me.

About the author:

Lindsay Oncken is an attempted writer living in Houston, Texas. She's about ten years younger than she'd like to be, loves crustaceans and Bambi, and doesn't find herself as interesting as the rest of the world.