There was a box on the front steps when Isaac got home from work. The mailing label clearly had their last name and address, but Isaac didn’t remember ordering anything. Perhaps Marianne was expecting a package. He picked it up and carried it inside.
Charlie met him in the entryway. “Dad! You’re home. What’s that?”
Isaac held out the box. “I think it’s for your mother. Do you want to take it to her?”
“Mom!” Charlie ran into the kitchen with the box.
Isaac changed his shoes and followed Charlie into the kitchen. He went a little more slowly and quietly, but that happens as you get older. You learn to save your energy for other things, like late night movie marathons or long days at the office.
Marianne held up the box when he came in. “What’s this?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t order anything.”
“Neither did I.” Marianne frowned. They both looked at Charlie.
“It wasn’t me! I’m not allowed to order things.”
They looked back at the box. Marianne shook it gently. “Maybe someone sent us something. Let’s open it and see what’s inside.”
Inside the box, there was a single shoe. The left side was bright red, and the right side was bright blue. Marianne picked up the shoe and turned the box upside down. A packing slip drifted gently to the floor.
Isaac picked it up. “It looks like there’s only supposed to be one shoe. Someone ordered a left shoe, but it doesn’t say who.”
“What kind of shoe is it?” Charlie asked.
“It’s a bowling shoe.” Marianne smiled. “We haven’t taken you bowling, have we? I can’t remember the last time I went bowling.”
“Is it fun? When can we go? Tomorrow? Next week?”
“We’ll have to see when they’re open,” Marianne said. She set the shoe back in the box and set it on the counter.
“I’ll email the company and let them know that we didn’t order this. I imagine someone is really disappointed they didn’t get their shoe today.” Isaac checked the packing slip for contact information.
He sent the email and forgot about it as they got ready for dinner. After dinner, they started a movie marathon. Charlie fell asleep before the first movie was over.
The next morning, the box was empty. Isaac noticed, and wondered where the shoe went. He moved the box to the edge of his desk so that he’d remember to ask, and then started going through the bills and balancing the budget. An hour later, the box was completely forgotten.
Two days later, Isaac received an email, telling him that the information appeared to be correct, the shoe was paid for, and so the company wasn’t worried about a single misplaced shoe. Isaac put the box in the recycling and forgot all about it.
A month later, in the middle of the night, Isaac woke up and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. The moon was nearly full, and the kitchen was brightly lit. He didn’t need to turn on the light. Just as he stepped into the kitchen, something growled.
He froze. The growling grew louder and louder. Something emerged from the wall next to the stove and raced across the kitchen floor. It was the bowling shoe, on wheels, with a little man inside clutching a steering wheel and cackling with glee. There were nice seats and all the appropriate bumpers and mirrors and such, as far as Isaac could tell.
The car disappeared into the opposite wall, and the growling sound faded away. Isaac waited a few moments longer. When nothing happened, he got his drink of water and went to bed.
At dinner the next day, he asked. “Do you remember the bowling shoe?”
“Whatever happened with that? Marianne asked. “Did you send it back?”
“No, they said to keep it,” Isaac said. “But then it disappeared.”
“A mouse stole it to live in like the old woman in the shoe,” Charlie said. “There’s a picture like that in one of my books.”
“I wonder if it ended up in the recycling by accident?” Marianne looked concerned. “Did they charge us extra on our last bill?”
Isaac leaned forward. “Actually, a tiny person made it into a car. I saw him driving around the kitchen last night.”
Marianne and Charlie laughed.
“I wish I remembered my dreams,” Charlie said. “I bet I dream of really funny things, too.”
“I don’t really remember my dreams either.” Marianne sighed. “I guess you get that from me. Sorry, kiddo. Luckily, you are good at using your imagination when you’re awake, so I don’t think you’re missing out. Right?” She turned to Isaac and smiled.
“Right,” he said. And the conversation moved on. They never mentioned the shoe again. But sometimes at night, when Isaac heard the growling sound of a nearby car, he wondered if the sound was coming from outside or inside. He was never sure.