Her shoes

It was a beautiful day – warm and sunny. His mom picked him up from the kindergarten. First, they had to go to the market to buy some groceries and then home where his sister was waiting for them, as she had already come back from school. However, the second they left the grocery store they heard sirens – the ones that indicated they were under air attack. They ran to the closest shelter, as that was the usual drill in situations like this one. The shelter was basically a fire station – huge, but dark and quite stuffy, because of all the people that were crammed inside. It was his first time in this shelter – usually they used the one next to their house – and he did not like it at all. Yes, he appreciated some grownups’ attempts to calm him down by offering cookies, but all he really wanted was to leave this terrible place. His mom wanted the same, as they had another reason: his sister was home alone. He was listening as she was consulting with other grownups about what to do now. Some people advised her to stay here with the boy, because here they were safe and the daughter probably already went to the shelter next to their house. This did not satisfy her. She turned to him and asked: ‘Do you mind staying here while I go home to check on your sister? And one of these ladies from our neighbourhood will bring you home after the attack is over?’ This he refused immediately, with unhinged fear and panic that left no space for negotiations. At that moment his mom leaned over, put her arms on his shoulders, looked him in the eyes and said: ‘In that case, we run’. And then she did something that, for him, marked the seriousness of the situation: she took off her heeled shoes. This strange act confused him deeply. ‘This way I will run faster’. Yes, it made sense, but in his mind this whole thing was just not right. His mom taking off her shoes in public? Running away barefoot? On a dirty road? He has never seen her doing something similar. ‘Ready?’, she asked. He nodded. They started running. All he could see were the beige heeled shoes in his mom’s hand. All he could hear was the sound of her bare feet hitting the asphalt.