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.)