I could remember as a little girl, I was always intrigued with some of my classmate's shoes. Coming from an immigrant background, I grew up with scarcity as my everyday fashion snag. As I took my mind to Karl Clemens Elementary, the bell rang and I made my way to our assigned desks. I always lifted my desktop to make sure my pencil and eraser were still there where I left them the day before. It was part of my daily routine along with checking out Rosie's, Susan's, Ester's, and all the little girl’s shoes. The white ones with the pink laces, the black ones that shined like glass, the red ones that sparkled like Dorothy's on the Wizard of Oz. Although I didn't know what fashion was, I look at it now and I swear I had a front row seat to the best fashion show ever. One day, we welcomed a new student; a little dark haired girl with a yellow dress. She sat next to me in the last row next to the window. I smiled and she smiled back and I knew that we were going to be friends. Her name was Ray. I thought that was strange for a girl to have a boy's name, but nonetheless, it made sense when she said she was a "Ray" of sunshine to her mother. Little did I know she would become my "Ray" of sunshine for the rest of my life. Ray came to class one day looking especially pretty. She sparkled from head to toes, and I mean toes because she was wearing the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. They were brown with double leather straps that buckled up on the sides. I had never seen such pretty shoes. As time went on, we soon became close friends. One day Ray and I decided to play on the playground; the grass was especially soft and cushiony. I suggested that we take off our shoes and go barefoot on the grass. It was the most incredible feeling of soft, cool grass. We played, and talked and I noticed her shoes again. I discreetly pushed my shoes to my side; out of sight as I was embarrassed she would see my cruddy, old, faded shoes with the hole on the side from the wear and tear. As I was glancing at her shoes, I noticed a picture displayed on the inside of her shoes. A picture of a little girl carrying a little dog. I was fascinated with the picture.
I asked Ray, " Is that your dog?"
"No silly, laughing under her breath, “The shoes came like that"
"Wow!" I said, with a surprised face. " I've never seen shoes like that before in my life!"
"My mom bought them for me because I fell in love with the puppy."
I told Ray that the puppy was very cute, but not as cute as the shoes itself. The picture in the shoes just added another amazing feature to the shoes I already desired to have one day. The next day I was anxious to get to school to see Ray. She always left me fascinated with all her pretty bright dresses and of course…. those shoes. I finally got to the school playground. I figured we’d catch a few minutes of play time before the bell rang, but I didn’t see her. She must be in the classroom, so I hurried to class, but no sign of Ray. The bell rang, and Ray didn’t show up to school. As a matter of fact, Ray didn’t show up to school the whole week. I wondered if she was ever coming back and I started to worry. Three weeks passed, and Mrs. Curry, our teacher, finally called the class to her attention. She said that one of the students in our class was very sick in the hospital and will not be coming back to school. She went on to say that the student was Ray and we were to write her some “get well” cards. I felt sick to my stomach, and somehow I knew that I would never see her again. I began my “get well” card to thank her for being kind and showing me what true friendship was about. You see, Ray belonged to a prominent rich family. Her father was a philanthropist of sorts. He traveled the world for his job and along his travels he contributed his blessing over and over to the needy. Little Ray has seen poverty and destruction at a young age. She was familiar with how it looked . Perhaps that is why she displayed such a humble spirit. In the few weeks to come, it was announced that my most precious friend had passed away from a disease that was unknown. I felt a sadness that I have never felt before. As I remembered our times together, I never forgot her friendship. School was finally out and I was relieved because I felt a sense of loneliness and I wanted it to go away. One day during the summer, I received a package in the mail forwarded from our school to my address. With my name on it, I opened it and to my surprise, a pair of the most beautiful pair of shoes I have ever seen. They were brown with double leather straps that buckled up on the sides and a picture of a little girl carrying a puppy named Buster Brown in the inside soles. One of Ray's last wishes was to send me a pair because she remembered how much I admired hers, but I know deep down inside that she noticed my beat up shoes and wanted me to have new ones. Every once in a while in deep thought, I can picture Ray…. walking in the door….. on that first day of school….with her dark hair, yellow dress and her beautiful Buster Browns that will forever and always have a lasting impression in my heart.
By Elizabeth Escamilla