When I was twelve years old, I saved up all my pocket money for a pair of dusty-pink suede shoes I admired every day, as I walked past the shoe shop on my way to and from school. I had always worn brown or black, functional, unfeminine shoes before, but something prompted me to invest in these pretty shoes. I wanted to look like a girl for the first time in my life. Before, I had always been the one in jeans and a lumpy sweater, halfway up a tree with leaves stuck in her hair!
Finally, the day came when I had just enough money saved up, and I shyly entered the shop. The only preparations I had made, apart from the money itself, hidden carefully at the bottom of my jeans pocket in an old, brown envelope, was that, inside my school shoes my feet were bare of their regulation grey socks! The shoe seller lent me a pair of pop-socks to wear, and I slipped on the beautiful shoes. First time in a one-inch heel, I felt as though I was as tall as a house, and I tottered round the shoe shop, trying to look as if I’d been born in heels.
I didn’t wear the shoes for the bus journey home. I knew I’d have to practice walking in them, so as not to wobble and look ridiculous. With a younger sister who delighted in mocking my every gesture, that was a prime consideration! Just as I entered the house, I suddenly felt a strange tickling sensation between my legs. I ran upstairs, aware that I was feeling rather faint, the shoe bag still clutched in my hand. I locked myself in the bathroom and sat down. Sure enough, there was the tell-tale little red stain I had thought would never appear.
—Jan Tchamani, Birmingham, England
Jan is a college teacher and the project leader of Red Tent (Heart of England).