for sale: baby shoes, never worn.

The lore of Ernest Hemingway’s six word story is that he crafted the tiny narrative on a dare. And those six words became literary legend that have challenged writers to create their own succinct stories. I have made my own attempts, have read so many others. But now I think the original is even more exact and brilliant. What if those hauntingly sad six words aren’t what you think? Why would someone be selling unworn baby shoes? What happened to the baby?

What happened to the baby’s feet?

Who knew a six word story could have a surprise twist?

The baby is home and recovering. The hospitalization was hard.

I was worried about seeing him post-surgery, a little like how I was worried about seeing him after he was born. What would he look like? It might sound strange, but somehow, it’s like Ulysses had his lower legs cut off and became more whole. This is who he is.

I’ve been very protective of his legs and feet this last year. Ulysses will never remember having had feet. I think any memories of his body before the surgery should belong to people who know and love him, people we trust. I’m sure if a passing stranger had seen his tiny, twisted feet they would not have sat with that image long enough for it to stick permanently in their mind. But I didn’t take any chances. Remembering his feet is a privilege now, a sacred thing that I am glad I guarded carefully.

Everyone always assumes that the baby in Hemingway’s story is dead. But I know better now than to make assumptions.

(more detailed update coming soon! i haven’t been able to stop thinking about the baby shoes, and i wanted to get this down here before i forgot about it. i’m having a hard time carving out writing time. thanks for being patient with me.)

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “for sale: baby shoes, never worn.

  1. Not once did I ever think of it from that perspective.
    So glad to hear you’re home, can’t wait for more good news.

  2. Jenny

    April, I love reading your blog for two reasons: First, because I root for you and Uly in my heart, and the rest of your sweet family along with you. Seeing how others handle their challenges helps me in my own life. But even more, I love reading your blog because of how and what you write. I love that you have interests and exposures to life that are so different from mine. I had never heard that 6 word story, and I love that by following your blog, I have a new, interesting piece of literature to think about and mull over. Just yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about thoughts and conclusions I have made in my life that I don’t even realize I’ve made, which are dead wrong – likely because I haven’t experienced the thing which would give me another perspective. Thanks for poking my mind. Thanks for letting us share your experiences. So glad Uly is home and doing well. Keep up the strong work!

  3. I think about Uly nearly every time I see a pair of baby shoes. This is completely accurate. I have learned something about not taking things for granted from your little boy.

    Here’s hoping you get the time you need to write & process. ❤

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