The making of Woman

Submitted into Contest #204 in response to: Write a story about someone seeking revenge for a past wrong.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Urban Fantasy Contemporary

I had had enough. It all started with Dior. The making of Woman.

They thought that shooting daggers into women’s heels made sense for post-war emancipation. Stilettos became popular when stuck up French men decided that women were going too many places too fast. So they put out the stiletto. Literally, "short dagger with a thick blade," (Italian, stiletto, 1610s). There’s something ironically tragic about the technology for war machines – hardened steel – being applied to women’s feet; more specifically, the dagger under women’s heels. It is the pain borne by the Little Mermaid, this time self-inflicted by women for self-love via the psychological entanglements of the fashion industry.

Shoes came and went, designers rose and fell, and I watched from the sidelines, selling back pain and vanity in hues of reds, blues and suede. The crazier the shoe, the more it would sell. I was surfing. From the slums of South Africa to Oxford High Street, high heels were at an all-time high.

And then came the glamorous 4. I was in my 40s at the time, and Carrie Bradshaw and her crew swept the collective imagination. Sexy nightgowns, endless cocktails, a new moral code for liberated women, and of course, the shoes. The Shoes. Glamour, sexiness, luxury, extravagance. Women may not have wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw exactly, but we wanted to know someone like her, we could identify with rigid Miranda, we could aspire to free ourselves like sassy Samantha.

And as I watched, I was mesmerised, then perplexed, and gradually, I had enough. I watched their feet. I watched their pointy toes, their silly runs, their sticky-outy calves and the opulence of superficialdom, parading as some deep existential commentary on life. Was it fashion or oppression? My back started to hurt, my hips were a mess. My business was growing but my inner temple was decaying.

Women’s empowerment my foot. To be precise. I had circles in my head, questions going round my brain. What is empowering about hobbling along New York’s avenues while breaking your spine? How would you run away from a stalker in those? Why have to soak your feet in magnesium sulfate every night? Why should I have to look taller than I actually am? Am I not enough? Am I not enough? They had been telling me this my whole life.

One day in Central Park I went to get some air, I thought of closing my business, wondered if I could branch out to flats. I saw a group of girls playing in pretty dresses and high heels. Girls of 5 or 6 maybe. Running around but not really. An ultimate Frisbee whirled by and they just stared at it. They didn’t even try to catch it. Jump and run, not with those heels. Is this what we had fought for? Was this what Gen X-Y-Z-M had come to? I just couldn't take it any longer. My blood curdled. My brain boiled. My life’s work had come to this. Putting girls into a lifetime of toed straightjackets. It was the last straw. Revenge would be just and measured.

I took my time. I recovered from my hip replacement. I moved on to other things. But in the backdrop, like those bubbles floating across your computer screen when you are not looking, changes were afoot. The web of retribution was spreading unseen and unheard. I had friends in the right places. Secret Agents. Moles. Soles. A crypto Youtube video shifted everything. In 3 minutes, maybe 4, it showed all you needed to know. Those who needed to know saw it. Changed forever. The movement was everywhere, but silent. The stilettos kept clicking on the sidewalk, but the quiet squelch of rubber was spreading underneath.

And then, Just like that, as if out of nowhere, Carrie Bradshaw was back. And so were her heels.

It was time to execute the plan.

On the 3rd of November on a cold and rainy day in New York, the mass heel-out started. Screens, social media, billboards, radio and TV, every social media outlet there was had been tapped. Subliminal messages filtered out. The stampede on stilettos was on.

As if in a blur, every toe tapped woman and shoe shop vendor out there picked up the stilettos and put them in bags. Sacks, bins, baskets, whatever container they could find. They marched as in a dream to the outskirts of the city. Signs replaced the tequila ads and gave directions to the recycling lots. “Everything must go” meant that everything really must go. No more stilettos, anywhere. Sent to the recycling plants, converted into tents for the homeless. All those steel heels needed just a bit of fusion to make great tent poles. That same week the United Nations decreed an amendment to Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” through the footnote “High heels, in particular stilettos, are hereby outlawed as a cruel and archaic instrument of oppression”.

And while the fashionistas and shop vendors and shoe-makers and designers trekked to Sunset Park in Brooklyn to deposit their instruments of oppression in the recycling baskets of new age industrialism, activists fell on the city and sneaked vegan rubber into the stores. Even Barbie’s outfits were fitted with sneakers with not one pink stiletto in all her wardrobe. The blur lasted a few days. People were confused, some of them nauseous, Fox News investigated a new strain of Covid-19 found to cause collective memory loss. After a few days the waves started to fade and social media went viral again. The chip was taken out of the Google Megadrive. Netflix reality TV went back on air. Some things were different. Lawyers and insurance brokers and makeup vendors took 30% less time to get to work. They got to sleep in or stop to chat to the guy on the corner on their way to work. In the evening they had more energy, less sore feet. Women's bodies became straighter.

And then came the Launch. The next season was out. Carrie Bradshaw and her friends were wearing knitted Birkysocks. They marched through the Upper East Side with a bounce in their gait. The credits rolled with Itzy’s Sneakers playing loud and clear next to the New Producer’s name, Grandmothers Inc. 

June 29, 2023 19:46

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1 comment

S Fevre
16:47 Jul 05, 2023

Thanks for your likes, everyone! I was very happy to discover Reedsy and this is my first story submission. Whilst I followed the prompt on Revenge, unfortunately I only realised after the fact that the theme was part of the Wild Wild West... definitely not in line with my story!! That said it was fun to write and I look forward to being part of the community :-)


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