Noteworthy Writing Prompt #12
"Write about white feet at a pool ."
I have a feeling, when my husband thought up this prompt, he must have had a humorous story in mind. I did play around with a funny story about a construction worker who lived in steel toe boots all week then brought his kids to the pool on a weekend, but the details and idea's I had never took hold. The pieces didn't fit because there was another story to be told here and it wasn't a funny one. Sorry Rene.
Sometimes, it'll happen that way. The stories we think we're going to write about, end up being very different from the ideas we started with. Don't get stuck in your first idea and don't be afraid of the process. Just go with it. Move forward and see where it takes you. Above all else, enjoy the ride. You may learn something amazing during the process of it all. I did.
By Anuschka delaCourt
His movements were slow and methodical. Each layer was unwrapped with care, and as if peeling an onion, tears formed pools along the corners of his slanted brown eyes. Gently he released the cotton fabric formed in strips encased around his most cherished gift. More precious than anything this world could offer.
Lately, he had been so focused on obtaining wealth for his family, that he was blinded to the old customs encircling his modern world.
“How could they have done this to you?” He whispered softly as tears fell onto the cotton fabric that had slid into the water beside the small pool at the rivers edge. No, this was not an onion being peeled. It was his baby girl, and he was unwrapping her broken bound feet on a bed of moss just outside his village. Instinct guided him to this safe place that he would run to as a child when life got chaotic. It was a place of peace, his sanctuary.
He had left for a business meeting in the city two months ago, wrapping up a final business deal with an export company. When he got back, those he called family, those he had trusted, mutilated his little Meili; his progeny.
“How could she be so stupid?” his chest tightened with anger at his mother. Her old idea's and traditions had frustrated him for decades. He was educated abroad, and although he respected his elders and most of the traditions handed down through the generations, the old Chinese custom of foot binding, he could not honour. He was glad when it was banned in 1912 when he was a teenager. However, throughout his youth he had trouble persuading his family to take on this change. Unfortunately, it was still prevalent, two decades later, among the women nearest and dearest to him. His mother never understood his views on the old tradition, yet he never thought she would go behind his back and disfigure his daughter.
“She will never find a good rich husband without small feet.” She would argue with him, before he left. She was holding on to a crumbling tradition, but he knew better, he had seen the changes in the city and these changes were good. These changes would help them move forward towards a better life.
“Why?” He longed for his partner. His wife. This never would have happened had she lived through childbirth. No, he was alone, fighting against an antiquated system that his family, the people he loved, still hung on to so strongly.
A shiver ran down his spine as he reached the last of the wrapping and he caught a glimpse of her toes bent unholy beneath her plaster white feet. Hope of healing faded and he cried unabashedly for his innocent daughter and the pain she must have suffered when they broke her toes.
As the gentle sounds of birds singing and water splashing against the rocks engulfed them, he sat rocking his 3-year-old daughter in a moment of peace that protected them from the hostilities close by.
“There has to be a way to fix this.” With a renewed determination he got up, and lifted his daughter off the cool mossy ground. He would take her to the city, to a doctor who would fix her feet and he would find a way to stay there and educate his daughter. Change was good. This was the least he could do to stop the subjugation and move his family forwards to a better life.
To learn more on the history of Foot Binding:
- Painful Memories
- Foot Binding
- Rene my husband and muse. The person who challenges me to be a better mother, wife, writer and human.