Once upon a time there was a boy who was happy but for a nagging pain on the sole of his right foot, where a splinter had been lodged following climbing the old apple tree in his parents garden.
He wanted to look over the wall that stretched for miles and miles, surrounding the huge estate hiding behind many tall dark trees. He thought if he could get high enough he might be able to see through the tall dark trees.
He should have listened to his parents who warned him never to climb the apple tree. His mother said if he did; the terrible growling, snarling, saliva spitting, frothing dog would see him and scare him so much, that he would for ever and ever chase him in his dreams.
Surprisingly this did not stop him from climbing the apple tree, as he had never heard or seen the dog. In fact the more he thought about it, the more he came to the conclusion that there was and never had been a dog. This disbelief grew and grew to such an extent that he felt more alone than he could have imagined. It was then he realized that this was what people called a lie.
Worse still, he started having arguments with himself about whether there was a dog, because he had spent many years imagining what a terrible growling, snarling, saliva spilling, frothing dog would look like. And smell like. Over the years the hair of the dog had grown, as had his blood dripping yellow stained teeth.
So on this average quiet day he decided that he would look over the wall; so he climbed and climbed and climbed, and climbed as it was a very high tree. Anyway, he got to the top only to slip and fall. He awoke stunned with a pain in his foot which remained even when the splinter was removed; much to the confusion of the local physician.
It was from that day that Barefoot was his name because he could no longer wear any shoes; so bad was the pain. His father was the village shoe maker and try as hard as he could to design different shoes of all shapes and sizes; he could not make a pair of shoes that his son could wear without aggravating the pain.
His father went up to Barefoot and said he had run out of ideas, but he knew of a Master shoe maker in the Big City, who might be able to help him. He knew his son was scared and did not want to travel outside of the village and certainly not beyond the estate wall. But he did not know of any other way.
Finally Barefoot gathered up his courage and left for the Big City. The journey was far over rock, clay, grass, stone and sand. He saw amazing lands and incredible animals of earth, sky and water. So much colour and movement that filled his body and crowded his dreams. At times his feet became sore, but still he want on until eventually his feet became hardened to the hot and cold. At times he forgot the reason why he had travelled so far. At times he forgot the pain in his foot. He crossed rough seas of fire and ice, finally winding down the river to the mouth of the Big City.
Barefoot wandered the streets for 2 days amazed and shocked at all the strange sights and smells. However, on the second day 2 minutes past 4 o'clock he arrived at the Master shoe maker's shop. He stood looking up at the winding, twisting, moving, shaking, quivering stairs of the huge snake; wondering how he could catch the tail. He decided to make a huge leap and flung himself on. The stairs gave one almighty shake and then became still. Barefoot gingerly crept up and , as he touched each new step a different note sounded out until he reached the top to a cacophony of noise. He had been announced and the door swung open! Barefoot was greeted by the Master shoe maker.
The Master shoe maker was an old man with long white hair that merged from his head into his long white beard that trailed to the ground. The Master shoe maker greeted Barefoot as an old friend and listened carefully to Barefoot's story. In response he said he would consider making shoes for Barefoot on condition that he work for him for a year and a day, and learn that shoe makers trade.
Days, weeks and months passed until that final day arrived and the Master shoe maker announced the shoes were finished.
"And they will stop the pain in my foot?" asked Barefoot.
"Oh no, they can't do that!" replied the Master shoe maker.
"What old man, I know you are a magician. You promised you would make me shoes. So what's the use of these then?" shouted Barefoot as he flung the shoes back in the Master shoe maker's face.
"Well, they will stop you getting more splinters" said the Master shoe maker.
"What's the use of that? Splinters don't bother me. I can just pull them out. It's the pain in my foot that won't go away!" exclaimed Barefoot.
"But don't you know, you are cured of the pain" replied the Master shoe maker.
"What, are you mad? No I am not cured!" Barefoot at this point was barely containing himself from punching the old man in the face.
"Well, if the pain was that bad how did you manage to walk all those miles?"
Barefoot puffed himself up to tower of the Master shoe maker and replied;
"Because I am strong and brave!"
"Um, so I see" said the Master shoe maker not looking convinced.
"YES!" yelled Barefoot.
"I don't believe you" replied the Master shoe maker calmly.
"You calling me a liar?!"
Barefoot at this point was shaking with rage then realized in utter amazement that the Master shoe maker was shaking too; because he was desperately trying to hide that he was laughing.
The Master shoe maker then straightened himself up, grew a few inches taller, pulled off his beard and exclaimed;
"Well done my son! You have journeyed far and long. Over come many fears, many challenges and learned many lessons. So you too can now become the Master shoe maker like you father!"
Barefoot was silent for a while and then replied;
"Thank you father. I am no Master shoe maker. I shall not take your name. Barefoot I am and Barefoot I shall remain!".
By Elizabeth Silver fox