I left Honey some breakfast before we left.

We wandered away from the way to the park. I remembered there were a bunch of shops by Graham and Jamie's convenience store. Maybe there'd be a shoe store there if I was lucky.

Kayleigh must've been smiling down on me. There was a shoe store in that shopping center. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw that.

When we stepped inside, the store had a bright green and orange color scheme. It hurt to look at. The flickering of the lights didn't help either.

Del led me inside and left me at a chair to find a thing to measure my feet with. That was something I would've forgotten to do. Nachimians likely used a different measuring system than we did.

My old shoes were a seven in men's. Here it was a six or six and a half.

Del went poking around for shoes. He came back with five or six boxes. About half of them had laces, and about half didn't. Some were white or silver. Some were black.

"Alright, Star. What do you think of these so far?"

I untied the shoes I borrowed from Cole. "Still don't like white. Drives me nuts when people can see the dirt on my shoes."

He only got one white pair. He pushed it aside.

A lady in her twenties came up to us. "Morning. You two looking for anything specific?"

My electricity pooled in my cheeks. Thank Kayleigh I had Del with me. I couldn't talk.

"Something well put together that's good for running errands in."

"There's a few pairs customers are always raving about. I can bring them over. What size?"

"Six, six and a half."

The lady went to find shoes after that.

"So, which ones do you wanna try first, Star?"

I shrugged. I didn't really know. "Just pick a black one."

Del picked up the middle of the three and pulled out a pair with laces. "Let's try this one first."

I pulled one on and let him try to tie it. Other people probably didn't pay much attention to this, but some were easier to tie than others. It took me a while to learn how to do it.

"I don't think it's too bad. Your turn."

Del was right. I could manage these. Now to see what they felt like when I walked.

I walked from the bench to a tall mirror. These weren't too bad.

"They don't hurt." I wasn't sure if I liked them or not.

That was when the lady came back with three boxes. "Find anything you wanna put back?"

Del passed her the box with the white shoes. "Thanks."

The lady waved her hand. Her pitch went up. "Don't mention it."

I didn't like her voice. It was—it was shrill. It hurt my ears. The lighting in that place probably didn't help either.

I ran my hand over the top of the boxes. The one on the right was warm and inviting.

I opened it to find a pair of black shoes with a red stripe on it. I definitely wanted to try these on. "I wanna try these next."

Del put the black laced shoes back in their box. "Go for it."

These ones didn't have laces, so I just slipped them on. They'd be good for going out when one was in a rush or half asleep in the morning. It felt like they hugged my feet.

Walking in them was amazing. It was like I was walking on a cloud in my socks. Not many shoes if any could do that.

"I want these."

"Okay." Del knelt to be at my eye level. "I know you don't wanna hear this, but Hannah told me we need to get you another pair while we're here. I might get myself some, too."

"Why?" I probably sounded whiny. I didn't care, though.

He looked into my eyes and smiled. "It's not good to let the soles get holey like that. It's good to wear something different, sometimes, too."

The lights hurt more now. I had tears in my eyes.

"I don't wanna wear something else."

"Can you at least try?" He put a hand on my cheek. "For me?"

"Okay..."

"Want me to pick?"

I nodded. In that moment, I didn't much care. I just wanted to go home.

He pulled out a grey pair. These ones had laces on them.

He went to work on tying one of them. It took him two or three tries before he managed it.

"I don't want these."

He pulled out the other grey pair. The light they reflected hurt my eyes.

"Did somebody invent shoes made out of tinfoil?"

"Wouldn't surprise me. Maybe it's one of the ways they recycle in this world." Del put the shoes away.

"Well, it's a stupid one," I muttered under my breath. "Del... I don't feel good..."

He wrapped his arms around me. "Why?"

"The lights..."

"We'll hurry up then, alright?" He opened another box that had black and green on it. "Too busy, huh?"

I let my silence answer.

He put them away. Del moved another box out of the way. The size inside was wrong. Then he opened the last of the lady's boxes.

"What about these? They're like the red ones you like."

"I just like the red ones." I was dizzy now. My head hurt more. "Del. I don't feel good."

"Okay, okay." Del took a long breath. "Cover your eyes. I'll be right back."

I did it like he told me to.

He put his hands over my eyes, and we got up and left to go home.


***


Thoughts on Del and Star in the shoe store? Theories? Predictions?

~Shino out!

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