It had to be just before I walked in the door, of course. The slush seeped in through the metal-edged holes which all Converse have on either side, those holes that are all too helpful in the summer but which aren’t nearly as useful when you’re facing your average Chicago winter.
I hung my soggy socks to dry and navigated over to Amazon, found a reasonably priced pair of boots that had excellent reviews. The shipping speed was lightning quick, it seemed.
Immediately after I clicked that little checkout button, my doorbell rang. A car sped off right after, out of sight before I even opened the door. And there, sitting right on my doorstep was a box from Amazon.
It couldn’t be. It must be something else I ordered earlier. But my order history didn’t lie–those boots were the last thing I’d ordered in the past six months. I fetched a box cutter and braced for impact as I opened the thing up.
The boots seemed to glow as they sat there in the box, laces woven from golden thread that looked nothing like string; the rubberized coating of the boot’s outer shell looked as if it could withstand a flood of biblical proportions. But that was it. No packing list, no ads for the brand–the boots’ tongues didn’t even show the size.
But I wouldn’t need to know the size, it seemed, as I slipped the boots on. They conformed to every square inch of my feet perfectly, my toes felt as warm and cozy as if they’d been tucked securely into their own miniature beds. I looked out the window, at the flurries and mounds of snow that the Windy City had to offer. There could be no other option.
Nothing could stop these boots. Slush, snow, brackish puddle water… they stood up to everything. They might even be able to walk on air.
I checked that no one was watching–they weren’t. I put my right foot in the air, mimed as if I’d just taken a step toward the sky. But when I went to put my foot down, it crunched against the air as if I’d just stepped in snow. I lifted up the left foot–it crunched just as satisfyingly as my right one had. I looked down, and my eyes seemed to lie as they took in the fact that I was now hovering a foot in the air.
I took another step up. And then another. Within seconds I was moving past treetops, ascending beyond the pitted roofs of musty storefronts, walking up some sort of invisible staircase in the sky.
The people below were like ants in the distance as I leapt up the invisible steps two at a time, my boots crunching the air-snow and compacting it with each step. Before long I was above even the twin antennae of the Sears Tower (real Chicagoans don’t call it Willis), and the sun sent out blinding rays from dead ahead. It was like a guiding star as I headed up and straight for it, my hand shielding my eyes all the while.
The crunching stopped. So did my labored breathing. I looked down.
Earth hovered beneath me, encased in its little blue bubble–a bubble that I was no longer a part of as I floated weightless in space. Despite the lack of air, my body felt refreshed and oxygenated. None of it made any sense, but then again neither did a pair of boots that allowed their wearer to climb an actual stairway to heaven.
I pushed on, the sound of crunching unable to be carried without the medium of air but no less satisfying as the vibrations buzzed up my miracle boots and into my toes that were still snuggled up securely in their little beds.
The stairs abruptly ended; they opened up to an invisible floor that stretched on in every direction, limitless. I ran forward and jumped, let the sun’s pull guide me in–an elliptical force that whipped me around at speed like the rock in David’s sling. I throttled on at incomprehensible speed, curved around the sun’s surface even as nuclear fusion occurred millimeters from my outstretched fingertips. I felt the heat but none of the incineration.
And then it happened.
A micrometeorite struck me in the chest, knocked the wind out of me as forcefully as it propelled the boots off my feet. I watched helplessly as they toppled end-over-end away from me, the weightlessness returning to me as my miracle boots slipped away.
This was it. I’d die in space, adrift beside the star that was responsible for my birth in the first place.
But no. There had to be a way back. If the boots took me here, I could take myself back. I concentrated intently, tried to channel a bit of the wise old Spirituality prof from my undergrad days as I meditated weightless in space. My forehead tingled as I willed myself to believe that I could get back home. It was true. It needed to be true.
I hurtled through space in an instant, by the power of my thoughts alone, toward the pale blue dot I’d always called home. Within seconds I was in the atmosphere, burning up as I guided myself over the familiar form of North America. I found the “U” of Lake Michigan through my squinting eyes, adjusted my feet like rudders until my city, my neighborhood, my street were all in sight.
I crashed right through my front window; the glass didn’t shatter so much as melt away. I hit my beanbag chair with an emphatic thump and tumbled over onto the floor.
I breathed in slow and steady, the sound that reached my ears more satisfying than it ever had been before. I looked to my computer’s monitor.
A pop-up had appeared next to a picture of the miracle boots: “Satisfied with your purchase? Leave a review!”