The Golden Boots

Jo Hayes Ward

I peered dubiously at the layer of flat, damp stones:  “Why do I have to go first?” They didn’t answer immediately, which made me even more dubious.

I wasn’t exactly afraid, but this hadn’t been my idea; anything could have been down there and it may have been something sinister.  One thing was for sure, we weren’t supposed to be there.

Maybe I was supposed to go first because rule-breaking was my specialty, I pondered, or maybe it was because I owned the magic blue vehicle.

The young woman standing by my right shoulder leaned over to explain. “Its because you’re wearing the golden boots” she intonated phlegmatically, with perfect-seeming reason. “You’re the only one who can cross through safely.”

I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye but could not see her face properly.  She was smaller than I was and about the same age, with mid-length brown hair. I implicitly trusted her judgement– she seemed to have some innate sense of logic – although I wasn’t sure if we were actually friends, or merely acquaintances for this mission.

None of them were wearing shoes.  I looked down at my own feet, which were dangling over the ledge where I was sitting.  I had to admit they were looking quite fine. Two perfectly smooth and symmetrical round-toed boots that were clearly made of solid gold glimmered at me. They were very shiny.

I admired the boots for a second more and then made a decision to act.  Stretching my legs down as far as I was able, I managed to graze the nearest stone with my toes, but it seemed slightly out of reach to touch properly.

I continued to reach down, my arms and legs all straining, while behind me I heard them suggesting that the best way might be to just jump down onto the platform.

Easy for them to say! I had doubts about their suggestion;  as we had no idea of how far down we would have to go, or whether the stones would suddenly collapse leaving a gaping hole, it seemed foolish to make a leap that might lead to sudden death or discovery.

I decided to do it anyway.