“The Must-Have” by Wendy Nelson

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman.” 

I was 14 when they literally walked into my life. Living in a small Canadian town, our only option for shopping was the Sears catalog. At the time, my main mission was to get to that catalog before my two older sisters, so I could pick out what was to be—in my wise estimation—the coolest thing in the entire world, and get it ordered—FAST!

In my quest, I beat my sisters home from swimming lessons that hot July afternoon. Immediately noticing that the flag on the mailbox was down, I ripped open the metal door—ignoring how it burned my hand—and grabbed everything inside. Rushing into the garage, I went to my hiding spot under my father’s workbench.

The boots were on page 42, in all their shiny, leather glory. They were slightly above the ankle, all black with inside zippers, and had three-inch chunky heels. And the toes were rounded—no pointy witch boots for me!

They were perfect. I had to have them! I whispered to myself. The only problem was the price. I had some money saved from Christmas and my birthday, but it wasn’t enough. I needed time to save more. Using my father’s X-Acto knife, I carefully removed the page the boots were on, hoping my sisters wouldn’t realize what I’d done.

I worked extra hard that summer of 1989. I picked dandelions until my fingers turned green. I babysat the two little girls next door, even though I was sure they were the spawn of the devil. And through a garage sale, I even sold my favorite stuffed animal—a huge cheetah I had won at Canada’s Wonderland amusement park near Toronto. But in my mind, it was all worth it. My mission was clear: get the boots before school started.

All my hard work over the summer paid off and I was successful in reaching my goal, with a few days to spare. It was sweltering the day my mom and I drove into town. We didn’t have air conditioning in our big, brown van, but we endured the drive, all in the name of fashion.

My heart thumped like mad during the entire drive; I was going to be the coolest ninth grader—ever! I worried, though: What if they didn’t fit? What if they didn’t look the same in real life as opposed to the picture in the catalog? What if some other girl had the same pair? But knowing they would be perfect, I shoved those thoughts aside.

They weren’t perfect. My first day wearing them to school was a mess. But only I knew it. Yes, I received compliments galore. And yes, I was the envy of a lot of girls. But my dream boots were trying to kill me! They pinched and rubbed my skin raw. I struggled with them throughout the day and when I got home, all I wanted to do was scream and throw the boots away.

But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d worked hard for those boots and, by God, I wasn’t going to let them win. I didn’t care that they made a sound when I walked, due to something imbedded in the heel. And I didn’t care I had to wear thirteen Band-Aids just to keep the blisters at bay. These boots will not rule me! I will wear them down and be victorious!

Wendy today, with her must-have boots!

Wendy today, with her must-have boots!

It took me eight months to break them in. The once-stiff leather finally softened and the boots no longer rubbed or pinched. I had won! But my victory was short lived. It was as though my feet grew two sizes overnight and I could no longer squeeze my feet into the boots. All those months of pain and struggle for only a few days of comfort, I thought to myself, sadly.

I could have wallowed in the injustice of it all, but I didn’t. It’s been over 20 years and I still have those boots. They are my reminder that not everything, or everyone, comes perfect. But with a determined spirit, those fleeting moments of sheer pleasure a are very much worth a little pain.

Wendy Nelson lives by the beautiful shores of Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, with her amazing husband and two young sons. When she’s not busy being a hockey mom, you can find her with notebook in hand, and two dogs in tow, writing short stories and dark thrillers.

Women 250_rgbAgain, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman.” The book features 62 stories only women can truly appreciate! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1o9yZtl) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1Ctd6eK).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.