The Man With No Shoes | Teen Ink

The Man With No Shoes MAG

December 25, 2018
By Maddiesg SILVER, Needham, Massachusetts
Maddiesg SILVER, Needham, Massachusetts
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Shoes can tell you a lot about a person. Winston was a firm believer in this, being someone who looked at many shoes himself. Although he had grown up hearing that eyes were “the windows to the soul,” he was always quite perplexed by this expression. Eyes were simply holes in one’s head that allowed them to see. Winston couldn’t find anything remotely revealing about them, just a sense of awkwardness when he had been caught staring into someone else’s for too long. On the other hand, staring at someone’s shoes rarely ever became a socially uncomfortable interaction. Most people barely noticed a small man in the corner intently watching their feet, and Winston liked it that way.

High school queen, skateboarder, bored businessman, frazzled housewife, Winston was able to fit most people into basic categories such as these simply by the brand, color, and condition of whatever was on their feet. Not to toot his own horn, but Winston felt that he had figured just about everybody out. At this point, the world couldn’t surprise him anymore, he believed that he had seen it all.

Winston was seated in his regular spot, a bench in the back corner of the Alewife train station, watching the usuals pass by. A pack of polished, black loafers shuffled past after dismounting from the 7 o’clock train, a solitary pair of Louboutins clacked against the dusty floor tiles, two pairs of scruffy Converse shifted as they waited on the platform. Winston mentally documented all of this, noting that a pair of knee-length boots were missing among the group, as well as several Nike sneakers. He sighed, a bit bored with the predictability of the station, the way the same people always stood on the same platform and waited for the same train to whisk them away at the same time every day. This order was ordinarily calming to him, almost therapeutic, but today he felt antsy.

That’s when he noticed something different. Two bare feet walked past, making an unfamiliar slapping sound as they made contact with the floor. Strange. Winston looked closer, studying the leathery skin and the overgrown toenails with intense interest. In all his years sitting at the train station, he had seen many strange feet, but at least those people had enough sense to cover them in flimsy flip-flops or sandals. This stranger before him did not seem to abide by any of the socially constructed rules, sticking his bare feet out for all to see. Their nakedness unnerved Winston. He wondered what kind of a man couldn’t afford to buy himself shoes? A dangerous man, perhaps. A man who was of questionable intelligence. An unpredictable, rash man with a temper. Certainly not the kind of man Winston wanted to be anywhere near.

He shifted over on the bench and curled in on himself, turning his eyes downward and his shoulders in toward his body to deter any possible social interactions. The man, however, took the space made free by Winston’s shrinking. 

“Sorry, it has been a rough day,” the shoeless person offered apologetically, placing a plastic bag down in the small remaining stretch of bench separating them. “A really rough day.” He seemed to be speaking to no one in
particular. “I had to sell my shoes, had to sell ’em away, can you believe that?” He scuffed his bare feet against the station’s dingy floor tiles.

“It’s my little girl’s birthday. She’s seven. I can barely believe it.” He shook his head. “Said all she wanted this year was a birthday cake. A real one, with sprinkles and frosting and her name spelled out nice and pretty on the top. So that’s what I went and got her.”

He gestured to the bag. Winston peeked through the clear cellophane case to see the pastry. It was a small, white circle, rimmed with confetti-like sprinkles with the name “Amelia” written in fancy cursive frosting. “It sure is pretty, ain’t it?” the man said, noticing Winston’s interest. “I just had to get it for her. But I had to sell my shoes for it … it was worth it, of course.” He seemed to mull this over for a while. “Still, that’s not a decision that any parent should have to make, it just isn’t.”

There was a crack in his voice like he was about to cry and Winston did something he rarely ever did; he looked up and met the stranger’s eyes. They were kind eyes, sad, sweet and beautiful eyes, sharply contrasting his bare and dirty feet. Winston stared at them, not allowing himself to pull away.

While staring at the man, a sense of shame washed over Winston. He was ashamed that he had judged the man, ashamed that he had assumed this stranger was a bad person simply for his lack of footwear, when in fact this man beside him was a more generous person than Winston had ever been. Slowly, Winston reached down and slid off his dirty, white sneakers one at a time, exposing his socked feet to the harsh chill of the station. He picked up the shoes and handed them to the stranger beside him. F

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This article has 29 comments.

MartinZ said...
on Oct. 18 2021 at 7:32 am
MartinZ, Newport News, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Really good story, did an excellent job developing Winston's character over such a short piece! Very focused and straightforward plot. Beautiful, simple, knows exactly what it wants to say. Great stuff.

on Aug. 25 2021 at 4:09 pm
WolfGurl PLATINUM, Not A Real Place, Indiana
20 articles 5 photos 174 comments

Favorite Quote:
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. –Anatole France.

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. –Josh Billings

Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.- George Carlin

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. —Franklin D. Roosevelt

Never lose. Either win, or learn. - Me


on Feb. 15 2021 at 11:53 am
ArlotoINK BRONZE, Brighton, East Sussex, Other
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

love this

TJ089 said...
on Oct. 19 2020 at 9:49 am
TJ089, Elkhart, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I am confused the story is called a man with no shoes but, the picture shows a person with shoes.

on Apr. 30 2020 at 11:04 am
read4ever BRONZE, Newfields, New Hampshire
1 article 0 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
" It is my belief that there are two people in the world: Those who look at clouds and see shapes, and those who look at clouds and see clouds."

huh, creative!

yazanal-azri said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 6:14 am
yazanal-azri, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I think that this story was very well written and that is due to the writer knowing how to get to the plot and having an interesting climax that leads to a person with no shoes that I could never have thought was something interesting and something that I would want to read.

on Apr. 30 2020 at 5:07 am
Mariaescalante, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Overall beautiful story. Very creative

falhuthaili1 said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 4:41 am
falhuthaili1, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I feel as though in the end you debunked Winston's theory about eyes being the window to people's souls. Shoes are material things that do describe people and their personalities, yet it is a generalisation and also depends on the person's financial status. Some people can't afford to buy the shoes they wish to, that they feel describe them or their style well. Eyes however can be read and are more personal, no one has the same eyes, they also allow a way to decipher people's emotions. The same goes for body language. I loved the storyline and the simplicity of your story, it provided everyone who read it with a great moral! Thank you :)

on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:43 am
harris_sidiki, Moscat, Maine
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I like this story because it was very engaging throughout the whole story. I never felt bored and I stopped reading it when it finished!

hunaidae said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:20 am
hunaidae, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I enjoyed this because the story really looks into how people are judged because of how they look, what they have, or what they don't have. This is a really well-written story not to judge people by their appearance.

ctan1 said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:15 am
ctan1, Muscat, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Its nice knoweing what limits he will go to,to get a cake

liamoconnor said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:10 am
liamoconnor, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
very creative and intersesting stroy, well done.

balabal said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:08 am
balabal, Muscat, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The story is beautiful. I love the ending and the moral of the story, even though it's short and simple, your descriptive style of writing made it interesting and engaging.

noooooooooo said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:04 am
noooooooooo, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Beautiful story with a lot of meaning and a beautiful moral!

rrayanxx said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:03 am
rrayanxx, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
In my opinion, this short story is a success. I love how it is short and concise and it kept me interested and engaged! Well done!

adupont1 said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:03 am
adupont1, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Really nice piece of writing, I really enjoyed reading it. I like the moral of the story and how you elaborated so much on a simple object (shoes). One way you could possibly improve your work (you don't have to take this into account, it is just an idea), is by maybe giving a bit more information about Winston or a bit more of his background because we barely know anything about him. Congrats.

Daliabagi said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:03 am
Daliabagi, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I love the creativity in this:)

krishu said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 3:03 am
krishu, Al Khuwair, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This story had the same moral but the way it was communicated to the audience was unique and beautiful. I enjoyed reading the story and the creativity of the idea, Great job!

on Apr. 30 2020 at 2:57 am
instatyreses04, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
very nice

Sajjad said...
on Apr. 30 2020 at 2:56 am
Sajjad, Muscat, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The way you wrote the story is very engaging and very descriptive, well done!