Glittering waters trickle over jagged edged rocks resting on the creek bottom. Sunlight breaks through the clouds, a respite from the overcast threatening to pour spring rains but refusing to drop from the darkened sky. Graffiti randomly spoils the otherwise blank canvas of the concrete pillars supporting the simple bridge above, columns temporarily disrupting the natural flow. The roar of a lone car driving over this bridge drowns the sound of rustling leaves in the wind. A light clanking soon joins the disorder of sounds, produced from an aluminum soda can casually tossed from a passenger in the now unseen car. Dents mar the can’s structure as it bounces along the pavement toward the guardrail, to which it collides and hurtles over the edge to plop in the creek below.
Carried by the lazy current, the soda can begins a slow journey of solitude past trees and shrubs, weeds and insects, flora and fauna. No eyes to see nor ears to hear, only a senseless object devoid of life floating naturally along a country creek. It is only a can that is incapable of thinking or awareness, yet somehow it knows it does not belong in the presence of resting frogs and brilliant orange blooms. The shiny artificial paints covering the aluminum somehow seem lackluster and plain in this new environment. New dents and scratches from drifting over rocks and colliding with stray branches give a sense of fragility; even the tab near the opening has been detached and lost near an abundance of soft gray clay.
Darkness descends as nighttime arrives and the soda can stops in a shallow sandy embankment. Stars are visible briefly between clouds before the landscape is completely shadowed from the incoming storm. Distant clashes of lightning and thunder arrive to the creek. Strong winds assist in breaking branches and creating current. No raindrops yet to raise the water’s depth but only moments till the first. Vibrations pass through the ground from a great thunder-clap and the winds push a branch onto the can.
The aluminum caves from the sudden pressure and tears the length of the can. Fresh raindrops clatter inside, increasing in amount with each passing minute until the environment is drenched in a downpour nearly as heavy as a waterfall. The wounded soda can soon submerges beneath the large current and rapidly increasing water depth, where it is covered by sediment that is unable to surpass the fallen branch.
Buried and invisible now, one could question the existence and presence of this can. Had it really only a day before been filled with bubbling soda?
Sunlight gleams through a dusty, frost covered window of the front porch to the once white house. Twin cement flower pots disrupt the entering light, one cracked and spilling its contents, the other as if recently new. The same soil within these pots sits on the soles of the boots just inside the house within the ray of sun, boots completely unaware of the significance of this spring morning, their light-colored leather dry from misuse. They are the kind of inexpensive shoes that are still well made, boots made for rough outdoor work with strong laces and thick soles. Only a month had passed since their owner last wore them, but their sad appearance would suggest longer.
The shoes longed to be filled again, to wander around on damp soil after a night of light rain and sink ever so slightly into the earth with each step- a feeling their owner had once relished as he walked to retrieve his morning newspaper. But the boots would never again feel that same warmth of their owner again, nor that distinct shape of foot imprinted into their fabric insides. Never again would the left boot complained to the right of the extra pressure exerted onto it from the old man’s limp which accompanied his usual shuffling steps. These shoes knew best what had brought their old man happiness, which things gave him sorrow, the places he loved most to wander, but now they lay forgotten inside the house which had once been his. Shiny black loafers were the last shoes the man would wear, though they did not know him as the boots did, as they were better suited for a well-dressed farewell.
If the boots had known they would never see the man again, they would not have changed anything. Every peaceful morning stroll past the corn fields to cross the old stone bridge they would happily repeat, sometimes dangling off the side and reflecting back from the soft current of water below as the man would listen to the trickling water and birds singing. Days of dirt being carelessly dropped upon them as the man tended his personal garden were priceless experiences. Noisy restless days when the man’s family came to visit were the ones the boots missed most, with the young granddaughter standing upon them so they could help her dance.
Feeling forgotten, they laid in the sun while a small crack beneath the door allowed the refreshing breeze to visit. They were expecting a day just like all days of reminiscing the past month, barely daring to believe when the door opened and fresh light rushed through the room. Tiny little feet in pink sandals walked toward them and gave them a warmth greater than that from the sun. They expected nothing; they were no longer capable of dancing with her without the man. But they felt something strange, a pressure inside, barely noticeable and softer than what that had become used to carrying. Uneven, small steps carried them outside, to the place they had been most, and finally they felt at peace.
No longer forgotten shoes.