The Red Shoes … Published in The Sun!

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In June of last year, I posted a story I had written, The Red Shoes. I submitted that story to “Readers Write,” a column in The Sun magazine, and … they published it, albeit a much-edited version! Here is their edited and published version:

Although no one else was home, I took care to open my parents’ closet door quietly, as if they might hear. If either one of them caught me, I’d be in trouble. My father’s clothes, pushed to one side, were all brown, gray, or black. He was a contractor who worked with his hands and smelled like sawdust and sweat. My mother’s clothes, which took up most of the closet, had bright colors and patterns. She was vivacious and quick to laugh, but she could also be short-tempered.

I ran my hands over Mama’s dresses, noticing the abundance of green, her favorite color. The beads on her emerald gown seemed to pulse under my fingertips. What would it be like to wear such a dress, to look and feel exotic? It’s not that I wanted to be a girl; I just didn’t want to be me. At the age of ten, I already knew that I was different, that I didn’t seem to belong in rural North Carolina. My brothers and the other kids at school — and even some of the teachers — had made sure I was aware of that.

I didn’t know when my parents would be home or whether my brothers might come crashing in, so I couldn’t be sure I’d have the time to slip on the dress and then return it to the closet unnoticed. No, the dress would have to wait. But what about the boxes of shoes that lined the closet floor? I pulled out a pair of blood-red high heels and turned them over in my hands. Then I took off my grass-stained tennis shoes and put on the heels. My feet fit perfectly. Those red shoes transported me to a place where I belonged.

The Sun warns that they “edit pieces, often quite heavily,” which they did! I’d be interested in knowing what you think of their edits. The original story is here. I, of course, was just happy to get it published!

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6 thoughts on “The Red Shoes … Published in The Sun!

  1. Amber Sawyers

    They did a nice job of editing your piece for space in the publication, but your original is truly rich. If I were an editor…(sounds like a musical)…I would have kept it whole!

  2. Susan Fulbright

    I went back and read the original. I wish I had known about your struggles at Startown. Not really sure now which exact grade you were in when I started there, but I know I was a young, naive, first year teacher, and you were in 7th or 8th grade. I don’t know if I could have helped, but I like to think I might have. Times were so different then. We like to think they are better now, but here in rural NC, I’m not so sure.

    • Susan! Things were so very different then, and, honestly, I don’t think that any teacher or most other adult was trying to do anything to me other than help me; they just didn’t know how to help me! It’s a different world now, even in NC!

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