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Her Red Shoes – A Modern Berliner Fairytale


Once upon a time there was a city known for its charm and diversity; its ability and danger to arouse the hunger in you and to eat you alive.

With many expectations, Katie came to Berlin, hoping to find out who she was and was to become. It was a cold and sunny December day.

Her fear of having chosen the wrong people to live with vanished quickly, as she entered the flat that appeared to be fancier than she had expected. The light on the fourth floor confirmed the golden border´s shiny appearance which caught Katie´s eyes first when she came into her new home. Her new flatmates welcomed her with warm words, before they told her all about their lives in the city and about the truths she must have missed during her simpler life in a small town.

They immediately acknowledged her open-minded character and her sense for fashion. Only her red shoes caused some pejorative looks on the two girls´ faces whose perfect appearance and apparent experience of city life intimidated Katie. The shoes she wore were once her sister´s and now her´s for years and, although they started to fall apart, they were still her absolute favourite.

From time to time Katie learned more about her new friends and, although she missed her sister and her parents, she walked step by step with a pair of new boots into her new life.

She bought them on sale and, despite her girlfriends´ distaste for the garish red, they agreed on the function and style of Katie´s new winter shoes. At this point Katie did not think about, whether her longing for wearing something different than her friends was why the picked these conspicuous shoes, or whether she subconsciously missed the decomposing pair of her past that now lay in a carton under her bed.

The winter nights were cold and long, and even longer on the weekends when Katie and her friends dressed up and went to the clubs. The nights were more glamorous than Katie would have ever imagined before she left her small town, and before her journey of finding herself turned into an adventure of unnaturally bright lights and other overwhelming sensory impressions. The thought that she had always waited for this different life, a new way of being and being part of something, overcame her while her warm feet sweated in the glowing boots. She felt even safer in the choices she made when the guy next to her started smiling, first at her feet and then at her face. “Matches my hat,” he shouts at her while pointing to his Christmas hat as if she could overlook the accessory. Hours passed and the confidence in Katie grew while she silenced her instinct to sleep, abandoned herself to the atmosphere and danced with the new person in her life after her friends have left.
Towards the early morning hours of the following day she could no longer dance in her red boots, as much as she loved the way they made her feel. With one hand on Santa´s shoulder she tried to take them off, but they would not move a single bit. When she went outside to have a better try she noticed that there was no way for her to walk. It seemed that the boots were dancing by themselves and that her feet were moved by them. One boot continued the dance while she firmly tried to take off the other one, but she could not move them. When she danced back to the club the doors were already shut and she was all alone on the cold and dirty streets of her glamorous present.

Her feet felt numb while the awareness in her mind came back and scared her more than she had ever been. She realised how alone she was. That this was not supposed to be her way to become the person she wanted to be. And more than anything else she wished for a new start, in her old red shoes that were meant to carry her future stories. But it was too late now, as she was forced to dance forever, and forever to wait, for no happy ending to come.

By Maleen Schwinger 

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