What is flash fiction? It’s an itty bitty story, generally under 1,000 words or 3 printed pages. Fresh fantasy and sci fi flash fiction every Friday!
*Please pardon grammar whoopsies. They will be fixed when this story is published in a collection later this year. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
“Ruby and the Velvet Slipper”
A Fantasy Flash Fiction Story
K. D. Jones
At sixteen, there were two things in life that Princess Ruby loved more than anything—the color red and shoes, shoes, more shoes! Guests to the castle would often ask to see her shoe collection, an impressive exhibit of nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine pairs of shoes, containing everything from satin slippers to sky-high heels made of hammered moondust. She wore them all and loved them all, often spending hours a day making sure no shoe had a scuff and each was in tip-top shape.
One day, she noticed an empty spot on her shelf. “Myr,” she said, “why do I not have any velvet slippers?”
“Because Hamperton stopped producing velvet, my lady,” replied her handmaiden.
What dreadful news! Since when had that happened? “Unacceptable!” declared Ruby. “I must procure some velvet slippers and complete my collection!”
So she set out, searching day and night at all the most popular shops and sending inquiries far and wide to kingdoms both familiar and foreign. After a year, with still no velvet slippers to be found, Ruby was becoming quite agitated when a letter came in the mail for her.
Certain it was another boring marriage proposal, she tossed the letter aside and thought nothing more of it. Next month, a visitor arrived at the castle—a dragon lord from far away.
She was less impressed with his dragon-steed than he with her shoe collection. “So this is the famous collection I’ve heard so much of,” he mused, wandering about the shelves and admiring her footwear.
She beamed. “Yes. I’ve spent years honing it. I’m quite the avid collector.”
“So you say,” he said wryly, throwing her a backward glance. Jewels like glimmering embers and gold embroidery designed like dragons wove down the length of his cavat. Finally, he turned to face her. “Forgive me, lady, but isn’t there something more important than finding a velvet slipper? You seem a bit obsessed.”
“Of course I am! I’ve spent my life collecting these things. I can’t stop now! It’s a matter of great importance!”
His eyes saddened. “But you’ve missed so much of the world.”
“Tch.” She crossed her arms and thrust her delicate nose into the air. “What has the world ever done for me?”
“There is a worldwide famine going on, lady. Many people are starving because they have no money to buy food.”
“There… there is?” Her own stomach growled, just thinking about eating.
“Children are dying.”
Great heavens, now that was terrible. “Isn’t there anything I can do?”
He nodded and opened his arms wide, gesturing to the rainbow of shoes around them. “You can sell your collection, my lady. It would fetch a king’s ransom and more than end the plight ravaging our homelands.”
Her mouth gaped open in horror. “But-but I can’t do that!”
“They’re my life!”
“You have no life, because you’ve spent it all in here.” Anger singed his words, making them sharp. “You spend your days in here, wasting time fussing over something completely trivial.”
“It’s not trivial to me!”
He sighed and shook his head. “I had thought to get through to you, to enlist your help and save millions. But you are too far lost in your obsession.” As he walked past her, he paused at the closet door. “You will never know true happiness until you let this go.” With that, he left.
How absurd! Her, give up her shoes? It was like asking the moon goddess to forfeit the moon, or the lord of night to relinquish his hold over the stars. She’d rather rip out her soul than abandon her quest for the ultimate shoe collection!
Days passed, but she found the more she tried taking care of her shoes, the more she couldn’t stand being around them. Disgusted and guilty and no idea why, she at last went outside the castle gates for the first time in years.
It was awful. A place once blooming with flowers and color now reeked of death and despair. “Please, miss!” they begged her, not recognizing her and thinking her to simply be a courtier. “Please, feed us! We are starving!”
She looked around, horrified by the lack of basic comforts these people—her people—lacked. Things she had been taking for granted all these years.
She felt a bolt of determination, followed by a thunderclap of grit. Suddenly, the damn velvet slipper did not matter. None of those silly little shoes did.
Racing back up to her castle, she ordered all the guards and servants to prep her collection for sale and to send word to every corner of the world. Three days later an auction was held. Emperors and empresses, kings and queens and princes and every manner of royalty showed up to bid on the spectacle of foot fashion. More money than had ever been seen was poured into the coffers, which she immediately donated to help feed the world. The famine vanished, and the people loved her.
And, for the first time in her short life, she was really, truly happy.