spock: logic is sexy

Ficlet: Shoes, Men, Coffins... (Joanna McCoy)

Title: Shoes, Men, Coffins...
Author: igrockspock
Rating: PG
Character: Joanna McCoy
Summary: Jo finds her own way to remember her father
Notes: for where_no_woman's drabble fest on the back of a turtle (which, by the way, you should totally write something for)


She crouches on the floor in shoes that cramp her toes. There were other shoes in her wardrobe, more practical and better fitting. More suited to the occasion, her mother had said. But she had chosen these because they were black and glittery, and the way they sparkled reminded her of the night sky. Never mind that she had not worn the shoes since the eighth grade and she had grown since then. The pain in her feet was nowhere near as difficult to bear as the pain in her heart.

She brushes that thought aside as maudlin and continues her search of the closet floor. She finds black wingtips still polished to perfection. He must have worn them only two or three times, for job interviews perhaps, before he'd gone off to space. Or maybe only once, to his wedding. She is sorry now that she had never asked him how he'd met her mother, what their wedding had been like; she ought not to have let divorce cast a pall over what must have once been a good thing. And she needed to know the story, so she can watch out for the good and the bad when she's old enough to settle down with a man.

Her fingers stumble across old house shoes, chewed nearly to death by the puppy she had convinced him to adopt when she was 4. She wonders why he had kept them or anything else in the tiny closet that had been her mother's small peace offering after taking the house, the bank account, and sole custody of their daughter in the divorce. Jeans ripped beyond repair, a suit barely worn, an Ole Miss hoodie stained with bleach. None of it looked worth keeping, much less coming back for. But maybe he had wanted to leave something of his in the house, take his ex-wife up on her last small offer of friendship. Or maybe he had left it for her, Jo. To have something of his to touch. Something so that she could complete the ritual of sorting through his possessions if he died in space.

Finally, she finds the thing she needs: an old pair of running shoes, too busted to use for their original purpose, but not so worn as to be unrecognizable. She remembered watching when she was little, the way he rose from bed, slipped his feet into the shoes, tied the laces, and ran off faster than her small legs could follow. Not that it had ever stopped her from trying. A half-completed application to Starfleet Academy is lying on her desk right now.

She slips out the window quietly and shimmies down the familiar gnarled tree, her black shoes slipping against the bark. It's been years since she's done this; she and her mother are honest with each other, and they agreed a long time ago that she is too old to be sneaking out of the house. But this errand belongs to her alone. Normally, she does not blame anyone for the divorce; tonight, she does not much want to talk to the woman who left her father and broke his heart so badly he had to fly beyond her reach.

Her feet skid on the pavement when she tries to jog, and the tight black skirt she'd worn to the funeral won't let her legs move anyway. She curses under her breath as an alternative to tears. She would have liked to run, but it's too late to get her sneakers now, and there are no perfect goodbyes. She'd had enough practice saying good-bye to him to know that.

When she arrives at her destination, she lifts the old running shoes to her nose and sniffs. She pictures herself three days ago, sitting naively at her desk in school. "Gross," that girl would have said and wrinkled her nose. She isn't worried about that now though; she only wants to know if the shoes still smell like her father. But It is a stupid wish. They only smell musty, and she doesn't know what he smells like anyway.

Carefully, she knots the laces together, using three of the strongest knots he had taught her in her girlhood. Tentatively, she swings the shoes over her head, making sure the knots will bear the weight. When they do, she flings them into the air, aiming precisely at the power lines that arch over the street. They dangle over the thin metal wire, joined by their laces, and she releases a breath she hadn't known she was holding. They will hang there, perhaps not forever, but long enough for her to say goodbye. She will see them every morning on her way to school and every afternoon on her way home, and every night that she wants to slip outside to look at them again. In space but not unreachable, battered but still true, just like her dad.
That's an absolutely poignant and beautifully characterized piece. Well done!
*sniffles* Beautiful. So many heart-tugging lines in here:

She remembered watching when she was little, the way he rose from bed, slipped his feet into the shoes, tied the laces, and ran off faster than her small legs could follow. Not that it had ever stopped her from trying. A half-completed application to Starfleet Academy is lying on her desk right now.

and

she doesn't know what he smells like anyway.

and

In space but not unreachable, battered but still true, just like her dad.

Bones. *sobs*
Thank you! I am so intrigued by what kind of relationship they might have had, what they would and would not have known about each other, and what level of closeness they might have been able to achieve. I hope I'm able to finish a full length fic about them one day!
This is such a lovely and true look at Joanna. I really like how this is written.
♥ I loved the last time.

Huh. The shoes hanging from the power line reminds me of some movie, but I forget which?
Thank you!

I'm not really sure which movie since I didn't have one in mind while I was writing. Mostly, I've spent the last several months intrigued by a pair of running shoes that appeared on a power line near my house.
oh this is beautiful.

and the way they sparkled reminded her of the night sky

I love this. I love all the little ways that she tries to get back closer to him, even though it's all only for her now instead of for the both of them.

battered but still true, just like her dad.

oh man. I was holding it together until that. *cries*

absolutely gorgeous
Normally, she does not blame anyone for the divorce; tonight, she does not much want to talk to the woman who left her father and broke his heart so badly he had to fly beyond her reach.

That sentence is the truth. That is always how I pictured why Bones went all the way to 'Fleet. And your Joanna, just wanting to know her dad? Touched my heart. *sniffle*