Guess whose short story won Honorable Mention in IDAHO Magazine’s Short Story contest?
“The Chocolate Shoe” was inspired by the delectable shoes, sold by The Chocolat Bar in downtown Boise. The opening scene of the story mimicks my first excursion to The Chocolat Bar. While my frame of mind was much more upbeat and outgoing than my character’s, I actually do fancy those Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramels. Mmmmm. But that is where this story’s similarities to my life end (thank goodness).
The female narrator purchases a chocolate shoe on what appears, at first, to be a whim. As the story unfolds, we learn the purchase was more than just a splurge. It was a mute attempt to exercise her freedom and break free from emotional bondage.
Who is her oppressor? Does her act of rebellion win her independence?
You’ll have to read it to find out.
Unfortunately, IDAHO Magazine does not publish the winning stories. Never fear. When my to do list shrinks to a more manageable size, I’ll send the story out to magazines and find it a home.
Because this story is more literary in nature (alas, no magic or dragons here) I will publish it under Donna McCain. I’ll let you know when the story is available for consumption.
Meanwhile, here’s a taste to whet your appetite. Bon Appetit!
I fancy a caramel with Hawaiian sea salt. I step into The Chocolat Bar in downtown Boise, checking the street like I always do. I see only strangers, like I always do. The tiny shop offers a refuge from the cold, the golden air a reprieve from the colorless sky. A woman stands talking with the clerk behind the counter. I am always surprised to see other people here, as if this place belongs to me alone.
I haven’t been in for a few months, but my routine is the same. I wander along the display case and glance at the sample plate as if I’d stumbled across it on accident and may as well try a piece since I’m here. I’m not so bold as to go straight for it without pretension. I test the white chocolate Fall bark with bits of pistachios and cranberries. Delicious. I hesitate for a moment before I take another sample, a dark chocolate shard laced with cinnamon. Brazenly, I try the last offering, another dark chocolate sample with a flavor I can’t identify. I’m curious about it, but not curious enough to interrupt the clerk’s conversation with her customer. It doesn’t matter. The customer finishes up while I pretend to ponder purchasing something I’ve just sampled. I dutifully scan the glass cases with their trays of solid chocolate in delectable varieties, their truffles sprinkled with colorful bits and dabs. Glass jars filled with chocolate-dipped pretzels sit on the counter top. I don’t understand the lure of pretzels. Behind the counter a woman in a white smock cuts slabs of fudge on a thick sheet of marble. I inhale deeply, prepping my taste buds with the rich scent of flavors to come. I stroll to the last display case, zeroing in on my predetermined purchase. There they are: chocolate-covered soft caramels sprinkled with pink Hawaiian sea salt. The clerk has shadowed me discreetly. I order a square and see a gloved hand wrap my piece in parchment paper.
On the bottom shelf, a new item draws my attention. Chocolate high-heeled shoes. Amusement draws a smile. These are not flat squares with a shoe design stamped on top, neither are they completely three dimensional. They are more like reliefs. There are two, one made up to resemble a flashy zebra print, the second in a more sensible pattern. If the word sensible can be attributed to a chocolate shoe. I am fond of the zebra. I consider it further. I surprise myself because I want it: a chocolate shoe relief on white cardboard shrouded in clear cellophane wrap. I summon the courage to ask the price. $40. This would be no pocket-change purchase. I would have to use the credit card. This purchase would leave evidence. He would never approve.
Something takes hold of me. Heart beating in my ears, I claim the shoe. The same gloved hand removes the shoe from the case, and I follow the clerk around the counter as she brings it to the register. I watch her ring up my purchases, my recklessness flitting around in my chest. When I give her the credit card, my hand doesn’t even shake. And like that, the deed is done.
I step onto the street feeling I am carrying a sack of gold in my right hand. I feel infused with a new power. I don’t even eat my caramel, afraid to break the spell. If I did this daring thing, what else could I do? I could do any number of daring things.