“Where’re my shoes?” I asked, leaning in through the door, frustrated. “I can’t find them, again.”
A ripple appeared on her smooth brow, and the scented candle on her side flickered. “Did you try in the rack?” she said, without opening her eyes, sitting erect in the lotus position.
She took in a long breath, exhaled it slowly. “In the study?”
“Under the dining –”
“Oh, come on!” I flung the grocery bag down. “Looked everywhere.”
Her eyes sprung open, steadied themselves on mine. “Why are you so worked up?”
“Well, maybe ‘cause I have a call in thirty minutes, but it’s veggies I have to go shop.”
“It’s Monday,” she reminded me. “Your turn. And you knew it.”
“I know! That’s why I’ve been looking for my damn shoes. Any idea?”
“No.” She dismissed me, and straightened her back. “Go look again.”
I stared at her. “You know. I’m so fed up of this. I take my shoes off at one place, and the next morning they aren’t there.”
She stared back, her mask of calmness threatening to crack around the jaws. “You’re not blaming me for it? Are you?”
“I don’t know. You do need to be careful about them, yes. Leave them where they are, if you can’t keep them at a place I could find. It’s just so frustrating when I have to –”
“Careful about your shoes? Me? Wow. Why? Coz I’m the wife?”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“That’s exactly what you mean. It’s always the duty of the woman to keep her man’s things in place: his towels, his undies, his hankies, his shoes. Your mother did it for your father, didn’t she? And I’ll have to do it for you,” she said. “Till death do us apart.”
“You’re taking it the wrong way. Anyways, I’ll go check in the balcony again. Maybe –”
“No. Wait. I know where they are.”
I squinted back at her. “Are you kidding me?”
“No. But let me confess something, first.” She uncrossed her legs, stretched them out, and slumped back against the wall. “These shoes of yours, you know…” She examined her nails. “They are special. Aren’t they?”
“Yes,” she answered herself, “they are. They come alive when left alone, you know.”
“Oh, stop it.”
“You’re right,” she continued, ignoring me. “You don’t find them. You won’t. Because whenever you’re out of sight, I pick them up and hide them behind the sofa.” She looked up, and our eyes locked. “Then I go back to them in the night, when you’re asleep.” Her voice suddenly dropped to a scandalous whisper. “And I watch them. I watch them make love to each other – all night long.”
We looked at each other for a long moment, before I slowly tore my eyes away. “Okay.” I raised my hands. “Will… check the balcony, then,” I said, picking up the bag.
In the living room, looking at the clock, and shaking my head clear of the disturbing images, I hurried past the sofa, and stopped at the balcony door. I glanced back, unable to resist an urge to check. I tiptoed back to it, and quietly leaned over to peer down the gap behind it.
And, there they were – my shoes!
Curious, I looked closer. One of them was trying to wriggle on top of the other, or so it seemed.
I jerked back up in horror, my eyes instinctively flying in the direction of the room. She stood there in the doorway, with her arms crossed, watching me intently.
She raised an eyebrow.
I shook my head, wore my mask, and dashed out to the market in my flip-flops.