A young boy kept his neighbor’s foot under his bed. It lay among the dust bunnies, idle, bereft, still wearing its oxblood leather shoe. The boy had not forgotten the foot, but he rarely took it out to look at anymore.
The boy had stolen it on impulse. He had seen his elderly neighbor napping in a hammock in his backyard. He took the foot cleverly without waking the old man.
For a while, the boy thought the foot a marvelous toy. He made it march about his room. It would kick through the boy’s green plastic army men in great mock battles. He dressed it in his mother’s pumps, painted the toes, and practiced his pose. Occasionally, the boy would feed the foot, peeling back the shoe’s tongue and tenderly hand-feeding it oats or kernels of corn.
With time, the games grew crueler. The boy would swell like a lion and ambush the foot or tickle its arch until it cringed in a corner. But soon, he became bored and ignored the foot and felt depressed.
The boy turned to his neighbor for help.
I have lost all joy in the things of this world, the boy would say.
The old man could only weep while hopping on one foot.
Life seems very long, and the boy would cry. How do my days stretch before me?
After weeks of this, the old man spoke. Give me your hand, he said. I’ll teach you to dance.