Sometimes the Sun, Sometimes the Rain
By Kristy Gherlone
Ah and Bao were two little slippers, crafted on a day so fine, the sun glimmered in the sky like a brand-new penny. Ah saw it shining boldly over the tops of the adjacent buildings when the factory lady carried her over by the window. She took it as a sign of good luck. She was sure it meant that she and her sister Bao were destined for great things.
The factory lady held her up to the light. Her eyes squinted as she finished the last of the hand stitching. “You sure are a cute little thing,” she grinned, pinching her nose, “some of my very best work,” she said proudly, snipping the last of the stray threads. “I bet you’ll go to a good home. Some little girl will be happy to have you.”
She brought Ah back over to her work table and set her down next to Bao.
“Where do you think we’ll end up?” Bao asked excitedly as soon as the factory lady walked away.
“I don’t know,” Ah whispered back. Her tummy was full of butterflies thinking about all the possibilities.
“Maybe Australia, or Mexico, or even Italy! It could be anywhere!”
“Yes,” Ah said, speculating, “maybe.” Her mind wandered to exotic places where the breezes were warm and the wild animals napped under the shade trees.
“Do you think we’ll go by plane or by boat?” Bao asked.
Ah didn’t have the chance to answer, not that she knew the answer, because the factory lady had come back. In her hands, she held a polka dot box.
Ah was fidgety with nervous excitement as the factory lady scooped them up. She twitched and accidentally jumped out of lady’s hands. She landed with a soft thump on the floor. She held back a sneeze as the dust kicked up and tickled the inside of her nose.
“Oh goodness,” the factory lady said, quickly picking her back up, “I hope you’re not hurt.”
She turned Ah over in her hands. “No. Just a little dirty,” she seemed relieved. She brushed her off and set her into the box next to Bao. “You two stick together, now. No matter what happens, you must promise me that you won’t get separated,” she tucked them in securely with a piece of soft, pink tissue paper. “You won’t do anyone any good if you’re apart,” she added, closing the box.
It was cozy and warm in there. Before long, despite the excitement of the adventure ahead, Ah and Bao fell fast asleep.
They slept all through the long and choppy boat ride across the ocean. They slept all through the narrow channels and passage ways that led into the shallower rivers, and they slept through the grating, grinding noises of the boat crashing against the city port dock.
Ah and Bao didn’t wake up until the deck hands picked them up and hurled them onto the rough, wood- planked pier.
“Are we here? Can you see anything?” Bao asked Ah, rubbing the sleepy bugs from her eyes. She wiggled around, trying to see out, and rustled the paper.
“Rats!” The deck hand hollered in surprise, seeing the box move. He kicked it. The top flew off and Ah went soaring into the air. She landed in the mud very close to the edge of the water.
“Huh,” the deck hand said shaking his head, when he didn’t find any rodents, “I guess not.” He went to retrieve Ah. “It was probably just the wind,” he brushed her off, but she was dirty and a bit scuffed. He stuffed her back into the box and drew and X across the top with a black marker.
“Is this box no good?” The sisters heard another man ask. They felt themselves being lifted into air.
“They’ll be alright. Send ‘em over to discount. They’ll sell.”
Ah and Boa were tossed onto a truck. The smell of diesel and wood smoke was strong as they drove along. Ah’s dreams of wild animals and tropical places diminished with each passing mile. She shivered within the box. “It’s cold here,” she remarked.
“It is,” Bao agreed, “but I guess we wouldn’t be needed in too warm a place.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Ah sighed.
The truck’s tires screeched as they came to a stop. The doors crashed open.
“What do we have today?” A woman’s voice asked.
“Just a bunch of slippers. Some of ‘em are damaged, but they’ll sell. Don’t you worry.”
“Okay. Bring them on in.”
Ah and Bao felt the warm air of the shop keeper store as they were brought in and placed on a shelf.
All through the night Ah couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen to them. What kind of child would want her now that she was dirty and bruised?
The next morning Ah and Bao heard the shop open. Voices chattered as people flooded in. Their box was opened and closed so many times, Ah was dizzy with it all. The many faces became a blur and to her dismay, no one wanted them.
Day after day they sat on the shelf, looked at but never bought and each day their price was marked down a little further until they could be had for a mere fifty cents. Ah was starting to lose hope they would ever find their forever home.
The sun shone brightly one morning after a long period of rain. Someone had left the box open just a tad, and Ah could see out. She took it as a good omen that it would be the day they would be going home, but just like the days before, their box was opened and shut. Opened and shut.
Ah was starting to get sleepy about mid-afternoon when she heard the chimes on the shop- keeper’s door. She heard to approach of tiny foot prints.
Their box was opened. Ah nearly gasped at the sight of the child’s face peering back at her. She was the most beautiful child Ah had ever seen, but she somehow she seemed so sad. It hurt Ah’s heart to see such suffering from such a small little girl.
“Daddy?” Ah heard the little girls say in a small voice, “Daddy, look at the cute kitten slippers.”
“Close that box,” he boomed, “we can’t afford such nonsense. You’re getting new shoes for winter and that is it.”
“But daddy, I’ve always wanted slippers,” the child’s voice was wistful, but defeated.
“I told you no!” The father scolded. He snapped their lid shut. Ah heard the child sniffling as she was taken away.
“It’s okay if she wants the slippers,” the shop keeper said kindly, “there’s no charge. They’ve been here a while and I don’t think they are going to sell after all.”
Ah heard the little girl’s feet running towards them. She felt the sway as their box was lifted off from the shelf.
“Bao!” Ah cried, “We’ve found a home! Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yes!” Bao said. “I’m so happy I could cry!”
“You better not do that,” Ah laughed. “What good is a soggy slipper?”
The little girl opened the box when she got home. Carefully, she took Ah and Boa out. She admired them. She smiled broadly before putting them on her feet.
Each day, Ah and Bao shuffled up the stairs and down. Out to the mailbox and back again. Into the kitchen and into the bathroom. Into a sister’s room and into a brother’s. Never had Ah and Bao had such a time!
Ah loved the little girl. She loved her giggle and her gentle touch. She loved the way her tiny little toes tickled her belly and the way she stopped to smile down at them throughout the day. Ah knew her life couldn’t have been any better if they had been shipped to a tropical oasis.
One night, just before the little girl went to bed Ah heard her say a prayer., “Dear lord, please bless daddy, and grandma. Please bless mommy up in heaven and give her a kiss for me, and please keep my new kitty slippers safe because I love them. Thank you, Amen.”
Ah got teary eye-d. She hugged the little girl so tightly before she jumped into bed, the little girl couldn’t get her off. She had to wear Ah and Boa while she slept!
Later that evening, long after the stars and moon began to shimmer in the sky, and long after the little girl was fast asleep, Bao smelled something awful. It was a smoky, poisonous odor. She woke Ah up. Something was wrong! Ah could tell that the little girl was still asleep. She wouldn’t normally act out, but she was worried. She folded herself in and bit the child gently on the pinky toe.
“Ouch!” the little girl cried, awakening with a fright. She sniffed the air and jumped out of bed. “Daddy! Daddy!” she screamed. She smelled what Ah and Bao did! “The house is on fire!”
Ah and Boa were hustled out into the cold, dark night. They rushed down the street and away from the heat. Ah was shaken loose and slipped off the little girl’s foot. She could hear Bao and the little girl crying for her as they hurried away.
The next morning Ah woke up on the cold, dirty pavement. She was alone and scared. She remembered what the factory lady had told them: “Don’t get separated. You won’t do anyone any good if you’re apart.”
Ah didn’t care about herself, she could only think about the little girl and Bao. Ah knew she would be very sad without her, as she didn’t have very much to begin with and Bao wouldn’t be any good alone. She might even be thrown away!
A steady rain began to fall. It collected on the streets and formed rivers on the sidewalk. Ah was nearly washed down a drain! She took it as a bad omen that all was lost. Her tears mixed in with the rain and were washed out to sea.
“Daddy!!” Ah heard a small voice squeal. “I found it! I found my lost slipper!”
Ah’s heart leapt as she sailed up into the sky! The little girl had found her! She held Ah up and covered her with kisses. “I’m so glad I found you,” she whispered.