{ I Have Narrow Feet That Rarely Fit into Shoes. }
Margaret Emery

margaret's feetIt's blister season. Right now my feet have harvested about fourteen of them—sometimes in new spots, sometimes not new. There's a blister on the back of each ankle, blisters on each pinky toe, and two or three blisters on each big toe. There's a big line of them on the arch of my right foot, and one or two on the sole of my left foot. Some of the blisters are scabbed over and they bleed at odd times during the day. About half of my toenails have fallen off and are in the process of growing back. They're not feet you would want to take to the prom.
   It's hard to explain how they hurt. They slide around in sandals. In dress shoes, even ones that I've spent a good deal of time breaking in, they bleed so much the blood sometimes defies gravity, traveling up from my feet into my tear ducts. Today I tried sneakers and the aching started from the balls of my feet to the sides of my arches, to my ankles to the backs of my knees. The skin cracks whenever I walk. It sounds like I'm walking on dried leaves or ice. I walk fast so I don't have to hear it.
   About a month ago I was dog sitting a Pit bull for a girl at work. The dog's name was Baby. As I walked Baby in the ninety-degree heat she would walk on the broken glass in the alley until her paws bleed. When we got back into her house, Baby lay down on the kitchen floor, wagged her tail and fell asleep.
   On my way home from dog sitting I took off my sandals and tried walking in my bare feet on the middle of the pavement where the sun hits it the most. I thought maybe one pain would cancel out the other, the way Baby's pain from the glass blocked out the pain she had from her owner being on vacation.
   It felt soothing and overpowering for about two and a half minutes, then I had to put my sandals back on.
   Of course for other people, there's nothing remarkable about my aching, ugly feet. They're just feet. Most people's problems revolve around something a little more noteworthy and less simplistic than their feet. But for me, they are usually the reason I'll break out in tears in the middle of the day. If I'm sitting down alone in a bar or sulking on the steps of a large gothic looking building, it's because my feet hurt like hell. I'm always tempted to make up something really great when strangers walk up to me and ask me if I'm doing okay. "You just look so sad," they say, or "It can't be that bad." They don't believe me when I say I'm just tired.
   I could always just show my feet to people, but it seems like too much of a hassle. Like when the hairdresser at Century Three Mall thought I had just graduated from high school, not college, I felt like it would have been inappropriate to take off my shoes and show her my feet. She might not have given me a good cut if I stuck my feet in her face and said, "Do these look like the feet of a seventen year old?"
   Or when the waitress at Mad Mex asks me more than once, "Are you sure you want the Insane Wings and not just the regular hot wings?" I can't whip off my shoes in the middle of the bar, put my underwear on the outside of my clothes and declare that if I can handle my feet, I can definitely handle Insane Wings. I probably could do it; I would just get thrown out of the bar.
   When a supervisor at work told me I was a meek, mild mannered person I knew he had never looked at my feet. Neither have the RN's at the hospital who have always pegged me as a fainter. I guess it's silly to expect them to understand.
   My friend Jen took a Polaroid of my feet once by accident. They looked wiry and calloused, curved over, a little bit deformed. Parts of them are red, parts of them are yellow, and they look uglier in the picture than they do in real life. I was so happy to have proof.

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