Muscovy ducks waddled past the porch every morning, leaving their nests for time in the neighbourhood pond.
Aneratsporp sat on the porch and watched the ducks.
He knew his grandparents would carry a basket of crumbled biscuits out to the pond soon, feeding the ducks, pigeons and sparrows that congregated around the pond most mornings.
Aneratsporp wanted to join them.
But Aneratsporp was not a regular boy.
He thought he was made of leather and nails, pieced together by his mother’s fifth husband, the local cobbler, childless until the age of 75 when he married Aneratsporp’s mom.
Aneratsporp was always small, his mother assuring him from birth that because he was special, it would take a special person to fit into his life.
The old cobbler said the same thing to customers whose feet were too small or too large for the wooden shoe forms displayed in his shop window.
As a baby, Aneratsporp lay in a crib at the back of the shoe shop while his mother laundered clothes for the local hotel.
His grandparents didn’t like that their grandson spent all day staring at the ceiling next to open pots of glue and varnish.
When Aneratsporp was three, his grandparents came for him and took him to their cottage on the edge of Decatur, Alabama.
They tended a small working farm, setting him on the porch where they could watch him while they gathered eggs, pulled weeds and milked goats.
Aneratsporp was happy being a shoe.
By age five he was 18 inches tall.
He couldn’t read, write, or talk but he understood what people said.
He knew his grandparents loved him and kept him from being seen by their customers.
He didn’t mind.
He sat on the porch, being a shoe in sunlight and rain showers.
He knew he was a special shoe because, of all the shoes in the house, he was the only shoe that his grandmother changed clothes everyday.
He smiled when his grandparents called him their little babushka.
A mockingbird landed on a tree behind the house and sang a song just for Aneratsporp.
Tweedle, tweedle, tweep. Chirp, chirp. Doohickey, doohickey. Tweedle, tweedle. Chirpoodle. Chirpoodle. Tweet.
A fluffy bird song.
The Muscovy ducks waddled back to their nesting sites.
The sparrows flew away.
Pigeons returned to their pecking order under the eaves.
Aneratsporp heard his grandfather scrape a hoe in the garden while his grandmother poured water into the trough in the animal pen.
Aneratsporp closed his eyes and dreamed of being the perfect little shoe for someone someday soon.