Life is like a pair of shoes; you never know how far it will take you.
“Alright, Jimmy, it’s between you and me now.”
The saleswoman watched with disapproval while Sierra paced in front of the window like a stalker. Her eyes locked on her prey, a pair of Romy 100.
A good week couldn’t begin without a little visit to Jimmy Choo.
Sierra loved heels and lived an undying romance with Jimmy ever since Cecile gave her a pair at her graduation.
“Women wear heels, Sierra.”
Cecile’s words still rang in Sierra’s ears. For Sierra, who never knew her mother, Cecile not only was a friend or a sister, she also wore the protective cap.
Where was Cecile now?
Her last call came from Melbourne. Cecile globe-trotted, and Sierra lived her adventures through her Instagram posts and Snapchat with her non-neglectable other 585K followers. One could classify Cecile as an It-Girl.
Things finally turned out well for Cecile, and Sierra was happy to see her friend’s dark episodes were over.
“Puis-je vous aider?” A sales assistant asked.
Sierra advanced while she looked at every shelf, followed by the eager sales assistant who walked a few steps behind, “oh, je regarded [I'm just looking].”
This month again, Sierra’s pocket was short. The woman could choose between buying her tender Romy heels or eating pasta all month.
It would be okay if Sierra knew how to cook spaghetti. God gives out talents, and cooking was one Sierra did not inherit. So no, heels this month, but she could still look.
“Puis-je essayer cette paire en 39?[can I see these in seize 6UK]”
The saleswoman sighed; it was just the beginning everyone knew Sierra and her tryouts. Usually, the interns and the newbies took charge catering to her demands, but there was no one to order that day.
Sierra wasn’t mean or bossy; the woman just tried ten different pairs of shoes and paced around while interfering with sales.
“Oh, get the pink ones.”
“They’re gorgeous on you, and they make your legs look as long as a Victoria Secret model. Gigi Hadid better start running.”
“I have Louboutin; if you ask me who I prefer between Jimmy and Christian, it’s like asking if I prefer my mom or my dad. It’s just a no can’t do.”
Shoes had this effect on Sierra. If heels could be raffled like sneakers, Sierra would click and sign up. Only heels affected her this way. For the rest of the world, Sierra remained a collected and calm woman who hardly showed her feelings.
Happy or sad, she always smiled, giving way to straight and polished white teeth. Sierra was the woman with the Colgate smile who got everyone to sign. It ran in the family, and for that, she resembled her father.
A grin cleared all misunderstandings, and Sierra’s method got her through life and the position she was in now.
“You are a black porcelain doll. Let yourself go, Sierra,” Cecile would say.
Sierra couldn’t help it. Unlike Cecile, she had no back-up in life.
The black woman struggled through university, studying, and working to pay her bills. Child of an immigrant, Sierra refused to end up as one of the girls who dreamt of living a good life through her man’s pocket and ended rinsed up in a council flat with three kids.
So Sierra studied hard and got a job at Renault. Sierra was not a car fanatic, but she knew how to sell them. BtB or BtC, the woman was like a fish in water when it came to negotiating.
The incentives could have her living lavish. Unfortunately, Sierra was a fashion victim with a mortgage and student loan still pending.
The woman kept up appearances, pleasant and friendly one could say Sierra climbed the ladder at her rhythm. She planned everything in her mind from her promotion at work, the salary she would negotiate, her engagement to Vincent because the man would end up proposing, their wedding, the dog or cat, perhaps both instead of children.
The last part also needed smooth negotiation, but Sierra believed she could get the man to rule out kids.
She did not dislike kids; they were not her prerogative. Sierra backed up her reasoning with the fact her father and older brother raised her. She had no idea what having or being a mother could be like; thus, she did not wish to experience it.
For Sierra succeeding, the work, marriage, and friends combo were all the accomplishments she needed.
Even if Jacob warned her not to run after vanities, Sierra saw no danger in desiring social success. Heaven’s gate would not close on her face because she preferred spending money on designer clothes rather than fast fashion.
Upon this reflection, Sierra’s eyes fell on them. They were not in the main room but the middle of a small vestibule under a transparent bell on a column.
“Madame, madame,” called the sales clerk in a hasty voice. Her call was two seconds too late Sierra's eyes already shimmered with the love she had for the 110 electric blue Romy.
“Avez-vous cette paire en 40?”
Sierra did not know the price, and it did not matter. The shoes were perfect for the person she had in mind. Cecile could afford anything. Still, she, too, was entitled to enjoy a gift.
What a more fabulous present than to offer a loved someone something you cherish.
The determination in Sierra’s eyes got the clerk moving; five minutes later, they were at the counter. The sales clerk cleared her throat before announcing the eye-pricking eight hundred and ninety-five euros. They were a hundred euros more expensive than the shoes she desired for herself. Yet, Sierra did not flinch as her credit card slipped into the minus zone.
Thank goodness Vincent had a restaurant, for her food allowance and a few other bills savings were now Jimmy’s.
“Madame, vous allez bien?[are you okay, madame]” The clerk asked as she watched Sierra’s chocolate skin change to cedar dark.
“Je vais bien, merci,[yes, I'm fine],” Sierra replied and hurried out of the shop. On the street, Sierra recollected her thoughts.
How could she buy something she could not afford?
Perhaps she should get a refund; other people did it, no biggie. She, too, could benefit from the return process; she made a step towards the door. No, it was not too late; she sighed and walked away. Sierra was about to cross when she made a U-turn only to stop as her eyes crossed those of the sales assistant who gave her a don’t-even-thing-about-it stare through the store’s window.
No, she could not keep them, even for Cecile. Her budget was on the line. Sierra took a step towards the door.
Cecile always sent her beautiful gifts, could she not spend such an amount on her? She was her best friend; they even shared each other’s underwear.
Suddenly, Jacob came to mind; he would ask Sierra how many homeless people she could feed with the shoes’ price. The charitable soul of the priest always made one feel guilty.
“Damn,” Sierra muttered as she imagined her father rolling in his grave. Still, it was not like she brought the shoes for herself; the action was uninterested. She stopped the debate to grab her phone. Before she could catch it, it vibrated. Sierra thought to ignore the incoming call from Geneva. She had no connections in Switzerland, but the phone would not stop. The only person who could call from another country was Cecile, but making calls was not the It-Girl’s thing.
Cecile loved letters or postcards written with a Mont Blanc pen, which she found chic, unlike text messages. The habit was strange for someone who replied with emojis on Instagram.
Annoyed, Sierra pressed to refuse. A minute later, the mobile began to vibrate again; perhaps it was urgent.
The voice was a whim, “Sierra, is it you?”
“Who is this?”
“Sierra, it’s Madame Gauthier.”
Sierra could not believe it; she had not spoken to Cecile’s mother in years.
Sierra could hear the sobs, “madame Gauthier, are you alright?”
A few seconds past, where all Sierra heard were muffled cries and sniffing.
“Sierra, something has happened.”
It was one of those moments where one knows what would follow can change their life. Sierra inhaled and closed her eyes. The scene rebooted another moment where Jacob called to announce their father’s death.
Why was it this thought that came to mind?
Perhaps Cecile was getting married.
Come on, Sierra, think happy.
The self-coaching brought a frigid smile to Sierra’s face.
“Sierra, Cecile died yesterday.”
There it was, the phrase, which breaks you in and out. Sierra remained paralyzed with her plastic doll smile.
The woman could not speak; instead, she fell to her knees in the middle of the street.
Why did every single person Sierra loved have to leave her?
Nonsense, Cecile could not die; she had not even hit the 30th milestone. People did not die at her age. Cecile was a Muse, beautiful, and eternal.
Madame Gauthier was a spiteful woman who disinherited her child. Sierra could not mindfully believe her, “don’t lie.”
“I beg your pardon?” Cecile’s mother asked.
“Vous mentez, arrêtez de mentir.[ you're lying, stop lying]"
“Sierra, it is not a lie. Cecile left us yesterday at 10 PM.”
“I am not listening, blah, blah, blah,” Sierra chanted like a child.
Mrs. Gauthier could not believe her ears. Flabbergasted by Sierra’s behavior, the woman yelled.
“CECILE IS DEAD, SIERRA.”
Sierra hung up, leaving the silence of the dial tone as a response.