When she opened her shoe cupboard, Elisa-Rose was spoilt for choice. Vertiginous heels, colorful sandals, strappy bejewelled platforms, faux crocodile brogues, and heeled ankle boots. Elisa-Rose liked fashion and especially shoes, which were at the top of her list of pleasures being a rather compulsive shopper. This love of shoes, and particularly of high-heeled shoes, came from her mother, who, as far back as she could remember, always wore heels for every occasion and in every circumstance. We should add that our young Elisa-Rose stood 5 feet 1 inches tall, blow-dried hair included, a minimal height that made her keen to gain inches, by way of beautiful teetering heels.
In her life as a dynamic young manager, she was always impeccably dressed, working as she did with the select and demanding clients of a large business bank. Her rather regimented outfits consisted of immaculate suits, with skirts or pants, which deserved nothing other than elegant shoes with high heels, even very high heels. Elisa-Rose thought they made her look slimmer and placed her at an acceptable height, equal to her colleagues and assistants, all taller than she was.
But unfortunately, high heels and crazy arches are inversely proportionate to comfort when walking. Elisa-Rose had to use subterfuge to keep going for the eight hours of her working day, aloof and smiling, both feet caught in a vice. So, to face her long days on her pretty high perch, every morning and evening Elisa-Rose put on trainers to go to and from work, a pair of white canvas trainers, which she had adorned with fluorescent pink laces, to pep up a bit her very classic footwear. Thus attired, the beautiful girl could stride over paved streets and slippery pavements, across crowded metro platforms, and up and down the interminable corridors and staircases with light, lively steps.
It was only once she had arrived at the huge office building where she worked that she put on her prodigious heels, beautiful, magnificent, vertiginous, but so damaging to wear that you might have thought the suffering they inflicted was the price to be paid for one’s social ascension. And although Elisa-Rose had achieved great success in her career and appeared to be flying high professionally, her love life was as empty as her heels were high. No time to spend on anyone, no time to take time, everything revolved around her work, and the speed of her step. The perfect embodiment of a woman of action, Elisa-Rose was used to being in complete control. But there you are, sometimes a pair of white canvas trainers, adorned with fluorescent pink laces, may change the whole course of a life.
As she did every morning, with her trainers on her feet, she took the same route from her apartment to the subway station. Standing in the packed train taking her to her place of work, a young man had noticed her and was waiting for her to look at him.
This was Leo. The first time he saw her get on the train, he had been entranced by the slim, elegant silhouette of Elisa-Rose and intrigued by her white trainers adorned with fluorescent pink laces which, besides searing his retina, were alluringly out of step with the beautiful woman’s sober suits.
Each morning he got a little closer to her, hoping that their eyes would meet. He told himself that he would then try a smile or a little word that he had prepared in his head, in preparation for the day when he dared to speak to her. Fluorescent pink laces on white trainers! That had inspired him to write a song, as Leo was a musician and composer. A promising new artist, rather shy and a bit dreamy, who hoped this beautiful and very petite little woman would eventually notice him.
Then, one morning, one of those when heavy rain was falling despite the summer mildness, he saw her get onto the train with her white trainers soaked and one of her pink laces undone. Leo took this as a sign, as if fate was eyeing him up. Making up his mind to cut through the crowd of subway passengers and approach her, he saw her coming in his direction making her way towards the exit doors. Just as he was finally right next to her, getting ready to point out her undone lace, the train, which was entering the station, braked so sharply that Elisa-Rose tripped over her lace, fell forward and ended up in Leo’s arms. When she looked up at him, Elisa-Rose felt her cheeks blushing, not with the fluorescent pink of the trainer laces, but with a powdery pink that made her look so good Leo could not take his eyes off her.
Of course, they liked each other immediately. You don’t always need to be perched high up on heels to feel giddy... It was but a small step to conclude that a pair of white trainers adorned with fluorescent pink laces were more than a little implicated in this love story. It was just a light step in trainers, helped by a bit of stormy weather that maliciously untied the laces, and a good pull on the brakes that occurred by chance.
Ever since that day, in Elisa-Rose’s shoe cupboard, her pair of white trainers adorned with fluorescent laces holds a place of honor, right next to another pair of white trainers, size 9 adorned with laces that are... black.
Translated by Wendy Cross