Mr. Bentley sits on the same bench with the same smile waiting for the same bus every day. I walk by looking at this old man wondering what could be so interesting about his old boring life. I didn’t think much about it until I woke up one morning. I continued with the regular morning routine. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and so on, but everything changed once I found a gift outside my door.
I picked the gift up and set it on my table. There was no note saying who it was from. Opening the box, I found a pair of loafer shoes. I put them away thinking nothing of it as I walked out the door to my normal day of work.
As I walked past the old man, I heard loud shoes behind me, so I looked back. Nothing there. I started walking again, and the noise continued. I looked back again, and nothing was there. Once more I started walking and right when I looked back, I tripped and fell flat on my back. I looked to my side where a pair of loafers sat patiently, waiting for me to pick them up. At this point I was going to be late for work, so I just ignored them and kept walking.
There was something familiar about those shoes. I remembered the shoes I had received earlier that morning but quickly brushed off the idea as shoes can’t walk on their own. The idea that someone left them there and I accidentally tripped on them was more of a logical idea. As I continued walking, about to reach my destination, my feet felt like they were exhausted and had already been used the entire day. I looked down and found loafers on my feet. Perhaps the same loafers on the street.
I thought I was going crazy. I told myself I just needed to get into my office, sit down and drink some water. As I reached for the door, my feet swung me in the direction I had just come from. I started walking involuntarily as my clothes changed into an old man’s. I thought I must be dreaming.
The shoes rushed me to the bus station and swung me up the stairs of the waiting bus. I was greeted with so many smiling faces recognizing who I was even though I had never met them. I sat down and watched as the bus drove past my house and my office. I watched as we drove by the famous coffee shop and my favorite bookstore. The bus came to a screeching halt as it had stopped right Infront of an old run-down building. The shoes pushed me up out of my seat and walked me down the stairs and into the building. As I was being forced, I tried and tried to pry the shoes off, but it was as if they were a part of me.
I walked into the building and found an empty room with a single door on the right wall. The loafers dragged me to the door and opened it. My jaw dropped as I stood in front of the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Dust cleared to reveal millions of workers dressed in their very best. At first, I thought I had stopped at the North Pole, but there was nothing Christmassy about this room.
I got the workers’ attention as I stepped through the door. They all looked up with silent faces. As the shoes pushed me through the crowd, the people created a path for me leading to a grand arena filled with even more people. I walked into the center of the arena as all eyes were on me. I felt the anticipation around me as they chanted a name that was somewhat familiar to me. As I started to make out the name, I heard Bentley.
My mouth opened as another voice spoke coming out of my body. I listened to try and figure out where I was. I had always thought Mr. Bentley had nothing important to do but seeing all these people react the way they did with him showed me that they rely on him every day.
I could only make out a few words because of how loud the crowd was, but I knew the conversation had something to do with the universe. Everything went black.
I gasped and woke up on the sidewalk where I had fallen right in front of Mr. Bentley. I looked up at his warm smile then down to his shoes. He was wearing the same pair of loafers I had been wearing on this journey. I slowly got up and sat next to him on the bench. Curious, I asked what his job was. I got a response I was not expecting. He told me he was a scientist working on the next big project dealing with the universe and a possible multiverse. He then pointed to the ground where I had fallen and asked me if I understood the lesson I had just learned. I was very confused and stared at him waiting for an explanation. He told me that the only way someone could really understand the life of another was to walk in their shoes. He wished me a good day and I went on with my life never forgetting that one moment that seemed to change everything.
Hannah Napolitano, Writer