“My Feet Went Walking” by Michelle Shin


My feet started walking one day.

 

Unfortunately, my body was still attached, so it was quite a nuisance. If they really needed more exercise, I could have gotten a treadmill, maybe walked more around the house. But it was adventure they sought and I was forced to comply. In revenge, I dragged them as they walked.

 

“I’ll be late for work!” I told them as they forced me past my car and onto a mountain trail near my house. They ignored me and simply wriggled their toes deep into the mud and then squished dry across beds of moss.

 

They took me through streams and up the sides of waterfalls. They took me to crawl spaces in urban centers to find tiny, pocket restaurants and dive bars. My thumb joined in on the mutiny and started hitching rides.

 

“Where you heading to?” the drivers would ask me.

 

“I don’t know. Ask my feet!”

 

In April, I panicked. “Really feet,” I yelled at them. “My taxes are due! Do you want me to be audited, get fined, maybe even go to jail?” My feet replied by kicking some stones down the street and then taking me to the Grand Canyon.

 

My feet became calloused. Worn, bulbous beets attached to my ankles and yet they kept on walking. “How about a break?” I asked them. “Can’t we just stop by a mall so I can sit in the air-conditioning and see what the women are wearing?” The idea of looking at shoes became pornography to me. But my feet would have none of it.

 

My feet went to Seqouia National Park and carefully walked across the giant tree stumps, one foot placed directly in front of the other. My feet went on suspension bridges and jumped up and down while I screamed in terror. Even at night, while we slept, I could feel them twitching, aching to get going again.

 

After over a year of no schedule and no sofas, I knew what I had to do.

 

“Feet,” I told them one day in April. “I see what you’re doing. You win. But you have not yet taken me to one place I would like to go: the Yukon.”

 

My feet paused in thought. It was nice to be still.

 

They must have agreed because we headed north. At first we followed dirt roads and grassy terrain. Soon my feet touched upon snow for the first time. They hesitated. “Oh, Feet!” I exclaimed. “This is so beautiful. I have never seen such overwhelming white, as if purity finally came to Earth. Look how it shines so bright, the shadows must slouch low and lurk near the mountains. We must keep going.”

 

My feet continued walking. We went through chiseled valleys veiled in bridal dresses and touched frozen streams with our toes. And then it happened: my feet stopped walking.

 

I looked down. These two lumps of coal that had tortured me were finally still. They looked sad—like orphan rocks fallen from their great mother mountain. I slumped to the ground, took a long breath, and then glanced around.

 

Then I realized… I liked what I saw. My feet had taken me to a magical place. Saw-edged mountains cascading in white, frozen pools that had captured the last image of the sky within them, sheer cliffs that promised eternity. I felt the cold creep up from my feet. For the first time, I felt the cold in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Shin lives in Hawaiʻi with her husband and son. She received her doctorate from the University of Hawaiʻi with an emphasis on creative writing and contemporary American literature and was a public high school teacher for ten years. She currently teaches at a local community college.  Her chapbook, “To The End: A Collection of Short-Short Fiction,” was published by The Poet’s Haven in 2015.