I did this for my Shoe Tree Challenge! Cutting it a little close, but it's done on time! Enjoy! This picture is my new favorite shoe tree pic. This one, below, is located in Nevada. Well, was located in Nevada. Someone chopped it down. Mean people. Anyway! Makes for good inspiration!
“But I don't know what to wear! If you would give me a clue,” Genevieve grumbled at her husband, but he didn't give in. He was an obstinate man. She huffed and grabbed the thick brown shawl she'd knitted recently, and pulled it around her shoulders, then turned toward the door, “Honestly, Harold, I don't know what you think you're doing dragging me out of the house at this hour! And without a decent breakfast too. You know I can't function properly without my egg in the morning,” she shook her head but followed him out the door.
“Just get in the car, Dear,” he said and he held the door open for her. She got in, muttering, and he closed the door after her before locking the door to the cozy little yellow home the two had shared since they married fifty-four years ago. He chuckled to himself as he climbed in the car and started it.
The sun peeked over the horizon, but not by much, and Harold turned the car to the west once they hit the highway. “Isn't it lovely this morning?” He smiled over at his wife and reached out to squeeze her hand.
She couldn't help but smile and squeeze his hand back as she looked out over the frosted desert brush that ran on for miles and miles. A dusted mountain range in the horizon glinted in the morning sun, and she nodded, “Yes, it is.” She cocked her head at him slyly. “It would be even lovelier if I knew where we were going,” She hinted.
Harold laughed outright, “Give it a rest, woman, I told you it's a surprise!”
She sulked and pulled her hand back from him, and he turned on a holiday CD to fill the silence.
After half an hour of driving, Genevieve smiled a little, recognizing a landmark. “Are we going to visit Bonny?”
Harold reached out and patted her leg and smiled, “You'll see,” in a tone that told Genevieve she was wrong. He smiled to himself at his cleverness, and she turned toward the window, barely hiding her own smirk.
She knew his antics better than he thought. He thought he was being so sneaky. He thought she hadn't overheard his conversation when he had his friends Fred and George over just the other day. But the new hearing aide she picked up at PriceCo a few months back had some very handy settings on them to help her out with things like that. The television setting was fantastic for eaves dropping.
She knew where he was taking her, but knew how much he wanted it to be a surprise, so she played the silly old wife, irritated and cold in the car because he wanted the heat down. She recognized the drive, even if he hadn't told Fred where he was taking her for their anniversary. Not their wedding anniversary, the anniversary of the day they met. She had told the story one thousand times, sometimes longer versions than others, but she knew the words by heart.
It was December 30th, 1956 and she was 17, home for the holidays during her first year at a lady's college to brush up on her social skills before settling down. Genevieve was not one to just do what others told her, though, and she bucked at the idea, however quietly. She had bigger plans than that. She would attend college as her mother wanted, but she had no intentions of ever settling down.
Genevieve was going to brush up on her art history, take some classes to fine-tune her technique, paint in her free time, and sell her paintings in a small local gallery. She would sell her art, get her own apartment in the city, and live happily on her own with a little short haired dog. She could see it all clearly in her mind as she drove to visit a friend who was also home for the holidays.
When steam began to pour from the hood of her Daddy's sky blue Cadillac convertible, she puttered to the side of the road and put up the hood, waving the steam from her face. Genevieve knew nobody would drive by and it was useless to wait, so she locked up the broken car and set off down the road. There was a gas station a few miles down and she could use the telephone to call her father.
Genevieve walked and walked, blisters forming from her beautiful black and white saddle shoes. They weren't made for that kind of walking. They were going to be ruined if she kept on too much longer, she knew, but she couldn't take them off and go barefoot on the side of the road. She trudged on, only stopping once for a few minutes in the shade of a cottonwood tree on the side of the road. Its deeply grooved trunk was rounded just right for her back, and she leaned back, listening to the creaking of the branches as the wind blew past.
It took her over an hour to reach the gas station, and when she arrived, she found a chair, sat down, pulled her shoes off, and gingerly rubbed her feet. It was then that Harold walked in, covered in grease, grey coveralls with his name sewn on the breast. He was wiping his hands on an old towel and talking mechanical jargon with the man at the register when Harold spotted the stranded girl.
Harold was kind enough to offer her the store's telephone, she made a phone call her her Daddy. He would have Harold's shop fix the car up, and he would be by to get Genevieve after work.
Harold drove the tow truck and Genevieve thanked him for driving her back, as her feet hurt something awful. He commented that woman's footwear should be more comfortable, even if it meant losing prettiness. The idea sprouted as they passed the cottonwood, and grew in her mind. They hitched the car up and were passing the lone Cottonwood on the side of the road, when she said suddenly, “Stop!” and he hit the brakes.
She jumped out and ran across the wide field and over to the tree that had sheltered her. She hugged its trunk and whispered to it, thanking it for its warmth, and sat down where she'd rested earlier.
“Please, let's go! I'll get in trouble. They'll think I'm driving slow because you're pretty,” Harold begged, but she just smiled. She stood wiggling bare toes in the dirt, grinning, swinging her shoes around. She let them go and they both just stood and stared as the shoes looped over a branch easily with the first try.
Genevieve grinned wide and said, “Cute shoes, but they kill my feet! The tree can have them. It's my gift for its hospitality!”
Harold fell in love with her on the spot, and spent the next few months wooing her. He wrote every day she was away, and spent every day of her visits home with her. They married the following summer, he opened his own mechanic shop, she sold her artwork from the walls in the waiting room, and they ran the place together until Harold retired and left the business to their son Tommy.
“Oh no,” Harold's voice snapped her out of her reverie, and to her surprise, the tree that seemed to spawn more and more shoes over the years was not there any longer. It lay on its side, shoes sprawled everywhere, sawdust and snow mingled on the ground. “Someone cut it down,” he said sadly.
It was her turn to squeeze his hand, and they walked up to the tree together, hand in hand. “Who would do such a thing?” she asked quietly.
“Vandals,” he shook his head.
“We should have a memorial. One of those website things Jenna keeps showing us with videos and things. People could tell their stories of the tree, and keep it alive just a bit longer,” she smiled at him. “You'll see. It may not stand any longer, but it won't ever be forgotten,” She kissed him right there, where she'd kissed him for the first time. There, where he'd proposed to her. There, where she'd told him they were going to have a baby. “I know I could never forget.”
“Neither could I.” He cupped her chin in his hand and he smiled down at her, “You, my dear, are more beautiful just now than you were that day fifty-five years ago. Happy Anniversary.”
“Happy Anniversary,” she echoed back at him, holding his hands and gazing into his eyes.
The two didn't see the police arrive, horrified, or notice the accusing looks they both got. They were too preoccupied.