Four Pairs of Shoes

by Isabelle Cipolla

Around eleven in the evening, my family and I return home from the cinema

My mother stops us at the door

“I just vacuumed the foyer,” she says, “Take off your shoes; leave them outside”

My brother and I kick off our sneakers lazily and trudge inside

My mother slips off her sandals and bends down to arrange all of our shoes neatly

Father’s pair, mother’s pair, brother’s pair, my pair

We say our goodnights and head into our separate bedrooms

It is my mother’s scream that I hear first

I jolt awake, the grogginess of sleep replaced by fear 

She screams again, piercing my ears

Next I hear the gunshot, then silence

My father is yelling

Another gunshot, more silence

I throw off my sheets and stumble over to the bedroom window

Now overlooking the front of the house, I see a strange car parked in the driveway

The footsteps making their way up the stairs are getting louder

I hurry over to my closet and step inside, shutting the door behind me

The tears begin to stream down my face 

I bite my fist to keep from crying out

The intruder is walking down the hall

He stops at the first room, my brother’s

A commotion, objects clattering to the ground

A gunshot, silence

My room is at the far end of the hall

Each moment that passes by feels like an eternity

I wait for the door to burst open, to look death in the eyes

But he never comes

His footsteps are receding back down the hall, descending back down the stairs

I have escaped, I am safe

I quietly open the door to the closet and peer out my bedroom window once again

The intruder has just exited the house

He stops

He has noticed something on the front patio

He bends down to take a look

Our shoes

He counts father’s pair, mother’s pair, brother’s pair

My pair 

My heart sinks in my chest

He smiles, and turns to re-enter 


I am a sophomore who likes to play soccer.

What motivated you to write this piece?

I had a dream where this happened, and it terrified me so I wrote it down.

Do you write sporadically or regularly?

I write sporadically. Whenever I have inspiration, I’ll grab whatever writing utensil is closest to me and write it on my hand. I keep a notebook by my bed, so if I wake up in the middle of the night and think of something valuable, I can write it down and won’t forget it.

What message do you hope to convey to the reader through your piece?

Never leave your shoes outside.