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Rainbow Shoes

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Warlock is crying in bed when he hears the familiar footsteps of Nanny, home from her afternoon off. “What’s the matter, hellspawn?”

Warlock whimpers into his pillow.

“Tell Nanny about it.”

Warlock sniffles.

The bed dips as Nanny settles in, rubbing circles on Warlock’s back, palpably prepared to wait as long as necessary.

After a minute, Warlock sits up. “My shoes,” he says tragically.

“Shoes?”

“The wainbow ones we painted.”

“Did you get them muddy? We’ll clean ‘em up.” Nanny smoothes hair out of Warlock’s eyes. “Obliterate that mud right off your shoes. Just like you’ll obliterate everything when you grow up.”

“They’re not muddy!” Even in his woe, Warlock is affronted. He’s five. He knows better than to get mud on his rainbow shoes, the boring dress shoes he and Nanny spent a whole day redesigning, his favorite shoes…

Which reminds Warlock  of his grievance. “Dad said they’re dumb!” he wails.

He feels Nanny tense. “He sssaid what?”

“They’re dumb! He made me take them off and he said they’re sissy and cwude and dumb!”

Nanny mutters something sounding vaguely like embossssed carbuncle. Then, louder, “Do we care what people think, Warlock?”

“...No,” Warlock answers meekly.

“Right, dear. Do we do what anyone says if we don’t want?”

“No!”

“Except for Nanny,” Nanny qualifies.

Warlock giggles. Then he climbs off the bed, gets his shoes, and puts them on.

Nanny smiles. “You like your rainbow shoes, I like your rainbow shoes, and that’s all that matters. You’re going to crush everyone under your heels anyway.”

~ ~ ~

It’s not quite true that nobody’s opinion matters except Warlock’s and Nanny’s. Warlock also cares what the gardener thinks. The problem is, Nanny and Brother Francis disagree about everything, from music to mass murder.

If Nanny likes something, Brother Francis won’t.

Warlock wrestles with this for a long time (eleven minutes), then goes to the garden anyway.

“Hello, Young Warlock!” Brother Francis beams.

Warlock indicates his feet. “These are my shoes.”

Brother Francis examines them thoughtfully. “Very good. Rainbows represent peace and love and not destroying the earth.”

“They’re not dumb?” Warlock can’t help asking.

Brother Francis looks shocked. “You like them, don’t you?”

“...Yeah.”

“As do I. No matter what anyone else says, all living things deserve to be themselves.”

~ ~ ~

Maybe Nanny and Brother Francis aren’t so different after all.

That’s a thought for another day. Today, Warlock skips in his rainbow shoes.