The fine stiletto heel tapped smartly as Charles placed the shoe on the polished wood desk. His mother donned her reading glasses for a few moments of close examination.
“Jimmy Choo. Very nice.”
“Well, what do you expect me to say?” With an exasperated sigh, she leaned back in her chair and looked up at her son. “I could say I told you so, but that wouldn’t help.”
“No, it wouldn’t.” Charles dropped into the chair opposite his mother’s desk and sighed. “I still don’t believe you.”
“I know. Tell me about the girl?”
“She’s beautiful.” Charles smiled gently as he remembered. “Dark hair and grey eyes. She’s funny and intelligent. And when she smiles…”
“But you don’t know her name.” It wasn’t a question.
“No, Mother. I don’t know her name. Or where she lives. Or works.”
“The alarm on her mobile phone sounded and she just took off.” Charles paused. This wouldn’t sound good. “I tried to follow her, but the club was pretty crowded. She was gone by the time I got to the door. Yes, it was midnight. And yes, the shoe was on the steps.”
His mother refrained from the obvious comments. “You could just forget about her,” she said.
But he couldn’t. Charles put the shoe in his closet and tried. He went to other parties. He met other women. But every time he looked at the shoe and the glittering crystal on the toe, her face and her smile came back to haunt him. Something had happened to him when he saw her face across the crowded club. He had to find her.
That didn’t mean he believed his mother’s ridiculous story. His family were not the descendants of fairy tale characters. Each generation was not destined to live the stories over and over again. He would admit that some of his relative found their loves in… unusual fashions. And yes, his father had woken his mother from a long sleep – but that was a coma after an accident, not a fairy tale. He certainly wasn’t going to act out some children’s story.
But he had to find the girl.
The decision taken, he pulled the shoe from his cupboard and studied it closely. He could hardly wander around London asking every girl he met to try on the shoe. That would take years. There had to be a better way.
His sister was talking on the phone in the library when he found her. She was wearing a short black skirt and a silk blouse in her trademark brilliant red, with matching fingernail polish. With her love of fashion, she would know about shoes. He waited patiently as she finished the call.”
“That was Gran,” she said as she dropped the phone back in its cradle. “She’s not feeling well. I might go and see her this weekend. ”
“Sis,” Charles held out the shoe. “What can you tell me about this?”
Stifling a giggle, she examined the offered item. “Satin Jimmy Choo shoe with Swarovski crystal. Very expensive. Barely worn. It looks like this season’s design. What’s this all about Big Brother?”
“I want to find the girl who wore it.” He braced himself for a withering response.
“It’s about time!”
“Please, Sis. Don’t you start. Mother’s bad enough.”
“That’s because you don’t believe her.”
“And you do?”
Charles took the shoe and left. He didn’t believe in, or need, a fairy godmother. He would do what a sensible man should.
Google returned two million results for Jimmy Choo, but the web site he was looking for was right at the top of the list. The shoe was, as his sister had said, this season’s design and very very expensive. That helped a little. There couldn’t be that many girls who would or could pay more than £600 for a pair of shoes, no matter how elegant. Nor were there many places to buy them
Charles kept a careful lookout as he wandered through the designer clothing department at Harrods. She could be here, shopping. He might just bump into her. The mere thought would have made his palms sweaty – if nerves hadn’t already done it.
“I was wondering if you could help me.” He took to shoe out of the carry bag and placed it in front of the sales assistant.
“Ah, yes,” she said almost reverently. “Jimmy Choo. Fresco, with hand made jewel. A lovely shoe. We do carry the design. Were you looking to purchase a pair?”
“No. I need to know if this shoe was bought here.”
Charles stifled a sigh. This wasn’t going to be easy. He had no false modesty. He knew he was good looking. Perhaps if he turned on some charm…
The sales assistant listened to his explanation. “No. I’m sorry Sir, but I cannot divulge any customer information.”
“Please,” he begged. “I really want to find this girl.”
“I am sorry.” She looked it too. “I wish I could help, but I can’t.”
Charles set out for the next store on his list.
His feet were aching by the time he got to New Bond Street. This was his last chance, but he already knew the answer. No amount of charm was going to convince these shop assistants to tell him anything about their customers. He’d ask one more time, then go home and beg his mother for help. He had to find her!
The boutique manager gave Charles a long appreciative look as he walked in the door, then hurried over.
“Good afternoon,” he said, smiling. “How can I help you?”
Charles produced the Jimmy Choo.
“Oh, isn’t it just fabulous,” the manager enthused as he caressed the shoe. “I love the jewels. But, you’ve only got one…”
“I know. It’s a long story.” Charles said.
“I love a good story. Do tell.”
Charles told. As he finished the description of his long day in ladies shoe shops, the manager flicked an imaginary tear from his eye.
“That’s such a story. A fairy tale,” he said. “Now you just wait right here.” He vanished though a door at the back of the store.
Charles waited, not quite daring to hope.
The door opened, and something hit Charles so hard, he thought he might die. Even without the fancy gown and the jewelled shoes, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She smiled, and his whole world changed. He couldn’t speak. It was enough just to watch her walk towards him, graceful as a deer even dressed as she was in slacks and a plain white shirt.
“You work here!” Not the most romantic words he could have spoken.
“Yes. I’m studying art design at college. This job pays the bills.”
“I thought… I’ve been looking for a rich… All those stores.”
“I know.” She chuckled, a warm low sound that curled gently around his heart. “Jason told me.” She indicated the store manager, who was watching them a very satisfied grin on his face. “He loaned me the shoes for a special night out on my birthday.”
“I see. Was he upset when you lost one?”
“Not really. But I felt terrible. They’re so expensive, and I certainly couldn’t afford to pay for it.”
“Why did you leave the club in such a hurry?” He had to ask.
“A friend ‘borrowed’ the dress for me. I had to get it back before she got into trouble.” She paused, then looked up at him with her lovely grey eyes. “I thought I’d never see you again.”
“Nothing could keep me from finding you.”
She was lovely when she blushed.
“My name is Cindy,” she said softly.
He reached for her hand, and raised it to his lips. “I know.”
Fairy Godmothers Need Not Apply
I do a bit of work at Pinewood movie studios, and regularly walk past a display case containing the shoe from the 1976 movie ‘The Slipper and the Rose’ which starred Richard Chamberlain. The shoe is spectacular – but looks very uncomfortable. One day, I asked myself how the Prince would ever find Cinderella in modern London…
Published as ‘Do You believe in Fairy Tales’ by The People’s Friend – November 2007
Artwork by Tom Croft courtesy of The People’s Friend
Published as ‘The Family Thing’ by That’s Life! Fast Fiction – June 2008
Artwork courtesy of That’s Life! Fast Fiction
© Janet Gover February 2007