Charlie’s Room: The Shoes

Isaac was dreaming. Somehow he knew he was dreaming, but he couldn’t quite wake up. In his dream, people kept knocking on the door. He’d open the door, and the person would smile and wave and walk away. He’d close the door and the knocking began again.

The tempo of the knocking changed. Now it was a monkey at the door. Then it changed again and it was a dog knocking in a shuffle-tap rhythm.   The knocking grew sharper. He opened the door and no one was there.   He looked back and forth. He heard a strange rustling sound and looked down.

A bird was perched on the door knob. He looked down at the bird and it looked up at him. It launched itself off the knob, and he felt the feather soft touch of its wings on his face as he woke up.

Marianne’s hair was in his face. He sat up. She rolled over and the blankets rustled. There was a tapping sound coming from outside the room.

Isaac stood up and walked softly to the door and opened it. There was nothing there. He checked the doorknob and then behind the door. Nothing there either.

The tapping sound started again in a different rhythm. It was coming from Charlie’s room. Charlie’s door was open a little. Isaac pushed the door open all the way and looked inside.

Charlie was asleep. His quiet, regular breaths sounded loud in the middle of the night. Moonlight streamed in through the window, lighting the carpet in front of the closet. Inside the closet a pair of shoes danced.

Tap tap tappity tappity tap tap tap they danced. They floated and whirled and danced some more. And then they stopped.   Isaac walked into the room. His bare feet made whispery noises on the carpet.   Another pair of shoes started to dance.

Isaac sat in the moonlight in front of the closet and watched the shoes dance.   He softly hummed a tune. The shoes danced in time to the tune as he hummed.   He sang a lullaby. A pair of shoes waltzed.

Isaac clapped quietly after each pair of Charlie’s shoes took turns performing.   He considered fetching some of his shoes and maybe Marianne’s too. He really wanted to see if his sandals would do a shuffling, kicking dance or more of a tapping twirling one.

Just as he started to stand up, a cloud drifted in front of the moon. The light dimmed. The shoes stopped. Isaac sat back down and waited hopefully. The shoes didn’t move. He waited and listened to Charlie breathe quietly.

He started to feel tired. He laid down on the carpet so that he could wait more comfortably. He was really, really tired. The shoes would wake him up if they started dancing again. He could just take a short nap. He fell asleep.

Charlie woke him up in the morning. “Dad, why are you sleeping on the floor?” He asked. He shook Isaac’s arm.

Isaac sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was morning. The sun was coming up, and the shoes in Charlie’s closet stood neatly in rows.   Had it been a dream? If it was a dream, then why was he in Charlie’s room?

“Dad?” Charlie asked.

“I’m not sure,” Isaac said. “I think your shoes were dancing.”

“I sometimes have strange dreams too, Dad,” Charlie said. “Not that one though. That’s really weird.”

Marianne came into the room. “There you are! You were up early today, Isaac,” she said.

“Dad was sleeping on my floor. I think he had a weird dream,” Charlie said.

“Hmmmm,” Marianne said. “Well, let’s have breakfast.”

That night, there was a snowstorm. It snowed six inches in the night and hadn’t stopped when morning came.   Isaac woke once in the night.   Light came in from the streetlight outside, dimly illuminating the dancing snowflakes. He checked Charlie’s closet. The shoes didn’t dance.

He checked again a few nights later when there was moonlight again. The shoes didn’t dance. Did they only dance before big snowstorms? When the moon was a certain size? Once every hundred years? He asked them in a quiet whisper once, but they didn’t answer.