Sparkling crimson with high heels. Her going out pair, for when she wanted attention. Plain black leather, flat soles, for school. Only six months left, three more exams, and she'd be finished. Scruffy trainers she used to wear to walk the dog, the wrinkles in the old white leather scarred with dry mud.
All these Aileen is placing, slowly, gently, into a black plastic rubbish bag. All her daughter's shoes. Never to be worn again. Never to be seen again. Aileen holds each shoe still for a moment, recalling its story, before placing it in the bag. Her eyes are glazed to mask her pain, her face is smooth, expressionless, numb of feeling. Only her mouth, fallen open, betrays her horror.
Pale pink ballet shoes. Months of saving pocket money. Then a whole day shopping, choosing, trying on.
Never to be worn again.
Aileen's own shoes she takes from the hallway and hides them in her bedroom wardrobe.
Her daughter is coming home today, and before Aileen takes a taxi to the hospital to collect her, all the shoes - these memories of feet - must be gone.
Such are the scars of war.