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4380515687_0759554925_zThey were arranged on the rack as was the norm.

Silver Wedges sat on the extreme right end of Row 1. She was dainty and delicate, faux leather and all, with patterns glistening in their newness.

The contrast of her reflective glow against the backdrop of the wooden shelf always made her stand out. Sitting quietly in her corner, she made a mental note of everyone called into attendance at this special meeting.

On the tier above her was Addidas, the fuchsia colored sneakers who joined them a little over two months ago.

Addidas was the most energetic one of all of them. Even now, she bounced ever so slightly as if about to take off on a sprint. She was also the most brightly colored with streaks of cobalt blue across the fuchsia. Addidas was nice enough and got along with all other footwear, except, of course, with Sketchers.

The laces looked tired and hung limp on Sketchers’ frame.  He told anyone who stopped to listen that he’d been with The Lady since 2006. He was black, as were his laces, and well worn from use—or so he claimed.

Silver Wedges wasn’t one to listen to gossip, but she had once heard it said that Sketchers was that battered looking because of the dust and neglect he had suffered when The Lady and her shoes lived in Nigeria.

Carvella and Lilliana claimed to have had more outing time than Sketchers. They were The Lady’s favorite pairs, so they claimed. It was why they had been picked to come on this hallowed trip. But how much of a favorite could they be, Silver Wedges wondered, if they had never left the racks, at least not since The Lady returned from Lagos.

There was Grey. His real name was Just Fab, but since he shared the name with a pair of black boots on the lower level, they had each agreed to be identified by their color.

Grey was a sweet looking pair. The unique combination of wedges and trainers made Grey a sight to behold. Silver Wedges found some comfort chatting with Grey anytime they had the privilege of being within close quarters. She was always curious about how he managed to be an amalgam of laces and straps, while maintaining the cute gait and balance that came with being wedges.

A squeaking sound came from the middle shelf. The meeting was about to begin. Silver Wedges wondered how long before the real drama would actually commence.

With the grey of winter clearing off to let in more and more sunlight, Silver Wedges expected to meet some new comers. Surely The Lady would need to purchase more suitable footwear. None of them were really appropriate for the oncoming fair weather, even though Ugg would not entirely agree.

Oh dear, Ugg was incredibly sensitive and petty. Some it has something to do with the fact that he’s made of more wool than leather. Rebel Soles, who is flat-soled and Ethiopian, said it was an Australian thing. “Back in the factory in Addis Ababa, we met a lot of those sensitive Aussies preening about their delicate skin and the comfort they offer.”

Truth be told, Rebel Soles wasn’t any less annoying, going on and on about how she is “carefully hand-made and environmentally friendly.”

“This meeting has been convened for two reasons.” Sketchers opened in his usual style. “ We have three new friends who have not been formally introduced. Ugg also has a few concerns he’d like to share. Let the introductions begin from the top most level and go in a clockwise direction.”

Sketchers’ grainy voice left a booming echo as it settled over the arena. Then there was silence. Silver Wedges wondered whether the two pairs of White Sandals from Primark would know how to differentiate herself from the Peach pair. Just then she heard Rebel Soles whispering to the white sandals, “You’re from the same store, so you differentiate yourself by your color, not your real name”.

Silver Wedges wondered who came up with this really dim idea of nomenclature, but then again, why would anyone buy two pairs of shoes in the same design and color from the same shop?

With the introductions done and dusted, Ugg padded gently, in all his brown fuzzy glory, towards the centre stage.

He mostly complained about feeling sidelined. His position as the favorite had diminished greatly since The Lady started this fitness routine. Silver Wedges could see him shooting daggers in Addidas’ direction. But since Addidas was known to care little about shelf politics, all the animosity was flying right over her head.

“I would like to suggest we draw up a roster. We should be arranged in such a way that would increase the likelihood of being picked. That way we all get a fair chance at getting out there, being used. Nobody wants to spend the entire lifetime unused.”

Ugg giving a suggestion to the entire shelf, without having previously run it by Sketchers? That’s a first. Sketchers was obviously not pleased because he promptly called for the meeting to be adjourned. He made a loud howling sound that shook the three tiers of wood where we all perched.

There was a flash and next thing, Silver Wedges saw Lilliana taking a sharp leap all the way from from the third level. Lilliana was known for her long spiky heels. As she jumped down, she directed the tip of the heels at Uggs and his soft paw front.

The loud thump was matched only by the deafening cry slightly muffled by all that Australian wool and fur.

Silver Wedges peeped from her corner. Was there any damage done?  Ah! That gaping hole was surely going to render him useless for the rest of his existence.

They don’t call Sketchers the Mafia Don for nothing, and he surely hadn’t earned the position of being the oldest pair for nothing.

Silver Wedges looked around for Carvella. There she was, standing beside Sketchers. The two stood heel to heel, waiting for Lilliana, who by this time was taking decisive steps in their direction.

There would be no further talk of insurrection amongst The Lady’s shoes. No better lesson for the first timers.



Image by Jen Gallardo via Flickr CC

About the Author:

Portrait-AtokeAtoke is a Nigerian lawyer, writer and certified foodie. She spends her week days writing at BellaNaija her weekends cooking and the times in between, staring at her Call to Bar certificate and her photo with BankyW. With a recently concluded Creative Writing Masters Degree programme, she is now trying to earn some money to refill the recently depleted financial coffers. Her work has been published in the weekly Nigerian lifestyle insert, This Day Style. Her stories have also been published on, accepted by Kalahari Review and loved unconditionally (under duress) by family and friends. Read more of Atoke’s writing HERE. And follower her @atoke_



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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “The Secret Lives of Shoes | by Atoke | African Fashion Fiction” Subscribe

  1. Manny 2015/01/30 at 16:32 #

    That was a wonderful story

  2. mariam sule 2015/02/02 at 12:02 #

    Haha love

  3. Tufli 2015/05/28 at 02:53 #


    A beautiful story in the style of the storyteller Anderson.
    I will tell a story to his granddaughter.

    Thank you

Leave a Reply

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