There was an old woman who lived in an ankle boot with a neighborhood of footwear.
“Grandmother’s house!” her grandchildren called it, climbing its laces, and sliding to the sole. Although her five children—the parents of her grandchildren—lived nearby, her grandchildren enjoyed staying at her home more than any other place in the entire countryside, including the village candy store.
Of course, she was a good grandma—she fed her grandchildren, clothed them, scolded them, and encouraged them when they were sad. They never lacked for anything because she was so wise and creative. Gramps had passed away a few years ago, but she kept his shoes by the fireplace for everyone to remember.
The Shoes Neighborhood, which was over the river and through the woods, practically consisted of a shoe store. It had an army boot, a ballet slipper, a bowling shoe, a climbing shoe, a cowboy boot, a brogue, a cleat, a clog, a derby, a flat, a galosh, a golf shoe, a gumshoe, an ice skate, a knee boot, a Lita bootie, a loafer, a Mary Jane, a moccasin, a monk, a mule, an Oxford, a platform, a pump, a roller skate, a rubber boot, a sandal, a bedroom slipper, a sneaker, a snow boot, a stiletto, a thigh-high boot, and a wedge.
Much like the shoe section at the village clothing store, there was a type of shoe for everyone’s personal taste. Except in the Shoes Neighborhood, the customers lived in their shoe, instead of putting them on their feet.
“Shine up your shoes!” the neighborhood caretaker called, reviewing the homes during monthly inspection.
Especially during the holidays, Grammie, as her grandchildren called her, liked to light up her shoe.
“String the lights from the rooftop,” she called as the children dangled the glowing bulbs from the shoe top.
As much as everyone liked the Shoes Neighborhood for its cleverness and class, it had one enemy: Its long-standing rival was the Three-Footed Giant, whose feet never fit in shoes, because shoes come in a pair, and he had larger-than-life triple feet; so not only was the size a problem, but also his number of feet. Baam! Baam! Baam! The whole ground shook every time he came near the Shoes Neighborhood.
“You think you’re so special because you have shoes!” he bellowed. “Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!”
“Oh, not him again,” Grammie sighed, running to her shoelace window. She finished her morning cup of tea and buttered crumpets and put a lid on her bubbling lunchtime vegetable soup. “Hide the food, children!”
The children gathered Grammie’s apple pies, slid them under their beds, and slipped them in their sock drawers.
“Maybe if we got the Giant his own shoes, he’d stop bullying us,” one of her twelve grandchildren suggested.
“Who knows if that would even work,” another one of her grandchildren cried in fear, hiding the cookie jar.
“I’m willing to start sewing the shoes,” the oldest grandchild yelped. “Anything to end his tantrums.”
As the Three-Footed Giant plodded his way through the streets, the thigh-high boot home fell over, the roller skate home lost a wheel, and the stiletto home broke its heel. Several porch sandal straps fell to the ground from a local residence, swinging back and forth with no place to attach. It was not a pretty sight, and neighbors ran from their homes in tears and fright, afraid that their shoe house would be next to fall apart.
“Quick! Run and measure his footprints!” Grammie called to her grandchildren, as the Giant stomped.
“How big do you think his feet are?” the twelve children pondered, using a tape measure for the task.
“Ten feet long by five feet wide is what it looks like,” the tiniest grandchild announced, comparing his own small feet.
“He’s destroying our stylish homes,” a middle grandchild declared. “How fast can we finish his shoes?”
“A week?” one of the twin grandchildren asked. “No! More like a day or two!” her twin argued in response.
“Well, he seems to have wandered off for now,” Grammie concluded, standing on top of her ankle boot home, peering into the distance over the Shoes Neighborhood. “Let’s get to work before he comes back!”
As the twelve grandchildren worked for five straight nights in a row, they made the Three-Footed Giant individual army boots, matching his three distinct footprints, each of which had varying numbers of toes.
When the army boots were painted and laced, Grammie inspected the shoes with her spectacles.
“Looks good to me, dear ones,” she reassured, hugging them for their efforts. “Now, if he’d only wear them.”
She paced about the boots, gearing up for her showdown with the Giant, anticipating the next time he came ‘round.
“We’re putting these shoes on his feet, if we have to tie him to the ground to do it!” she declared.
Days later, when the Three-Footed Giant came back to the Shoes Neighborhood, Grammie had been baking.
“Those blueberry muffins smell so good!” the Giant drooled, sticking his nose into her shoelace window.
“Oh, dearie,” Grammie whispered. “So good to see you! I have a gift for you. Your own trio of shoes!”
“Shoes!” he roared. “Shoes never fit on my feet, so I look like a bumbling clumsy fool. I get sores on my ugly toes, and everyone makes fun of me. Why are you telling me that I could even have shoes? You’re mean.”
“Now, son, you listen to me!” Grammie proclaimed, coming from the front door of her ankle boot home. “You put these shoes on, and you stop feeling sorry for yourself.” She parted the trees in her yard and showed him his new trio of army boots. “These shoes are as good as anybody’s shoes, and they’re the perfect fit.”
The Three-Footed Giant paused for a moment and inspected the triad of boots, grunting and growling.
Grammie’s grandchildren stayed hidden, deep in their closets with the blueberry muffins, praying he would take the triplet army boots and leave before he decided to eat any more than their grandmother’s sweets.
“Put me down!” Grammie insisted, as the Giant swiped her up into his gigantic hand. She pinched him hard.
“Aaah!” the Giant yelled. “I just needed your help in putting on the boots. I’ve never done it before.”
“I can give you pointers from the ground,” she scolded, slipping down his side. “Behave yourself, young man.”
Then, he slammed his foot on the ground, and the whole neighborhood rattled, rumbled, and cracked.
“Fine, I’m trying to get my feet into your boots,” he moaned. “They look like shoes for a military general.”
“Yes, son, I’m sure you’d make a good military general, if you could get a better attitude,” she chided.
After much fussing, fidgeting, and rolling on the ground, the Three-Footed Giant shoved his feet into the boots. Then, he broke down sobbing like a two-year-old child. Each of his tears fell like huge raindrops.
“Now that you have shoes, you can walk wherever you want in peace,” Grammie explained, nodding.
Against her will, the Giant scooped Grammie up again in his palm and placed her at his heart.
“I told you to keep me on the ground,” Grammie pointed out, poking his shoulder with her eyeglasses.
“I can’t leave you on the ground,” the Giant blubbered in tears. “I love you too much!”
“Why, son, I love you, too!” Grammie exclaimed, as her grandchildren came running from hiding.
“I have a few friends who could also use their own shoes,” the Giant suggested. “Their feet never fit in regular shoes, and it causes so many hurt feelings. If I bring them by, could you make shoes for them, too?”
Grammie had a calm moment, considering any alternative other than “yes” and realized she must agree.
“My grandchildren and I will make shoes for anyone who needs them,” Grammie proposed, rolling out her measuring tape from her pocket. It fell from her hand and wrapped right around his arm and wrist.
From then on, the Shoes Neighborhood was known as the most generous place for people with misshapen feet. If their feet didn’t fit in anywhere else, they would always be able to find the perfect shoes with Grammie, who had more children of every size and shape than she could fit in her ankle boot home.
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Waters