By: Afifa Tanisa
Everybody in my family has different shoelaces.
My brother’s shoelaces are always twisting and hovering over each other like bees fighting for food to bring back to their hives. Every morning, his enmeshed shoelaces struggle to untangle themselves. They succeed, but, as always, by the time they return home, they’ve tangled again; it’s as if they memorized his cycle of indecisiveness.
My sister’s shoelaces are blue and filled with marks.
They are drowning in a sea full of grief. They have a headache every night due to being tied for 15 hours straight. Like my sister, who’s depressed from working on her college application every single day, they can’t even take painkillers to ease their pain.
And me, my shoelaces are a tornado, as if mimicking my way of life. They always refuse to obey knots or bows just like I refuse to clean my room when my brother makes the mess.
But my parents’ shoelaces; my parents’ shoelaces, like two parallel lines that’ll never collide, combine to form a flawless bow. Then, the bow combines itself, again, to create a perfect, appealing rose. Despite getting scuffed throughout the day, the shoelaces remain as white as snow when it first falls from the sky. My brown eyes stare at their shoelaces hoping to learn how the shoelaces always remain straight, never wrinkled, and form a magical, perfect bow.
“How do you tie your shoelaces that beautifully?” I question my dad eagerly as my eyes stay glued to the swift motions of his hand.
“Just like this,” my dad whispers, as he fastens his shoelaces as tightly as he held his father’s hand for the last time, so they don’t come undone for another ten hours to come.
“But even in my wildest dreams, I pray you’ll never have to tie your shoelaces as we do,” my mom mumbles, from the kitchen, as quiet as the graveyard at 12am.
After running around the whole day and making sure everything is where it belongs, my dad comes home relieved to open his fastened shoelaces.
And my mom, my mom, whose eyes wide open at 6:00am and don’t close until 1:00am, feels relaxed as soon as she pulls the black string, and the shoelaces release and automatically turn themselves back to two parallel lines as if reminding her that she’ll have to do the same thing over again the next day.
Once the shoelaces of my parents go together to form the dangerous rose, my parents’ smiling lips turn into a frown, as if those shoes won’t leave my parents’ feet for thousands of years.
“I am glad I don’t have to tie these shoelaces for two days,” my mom exclaims as she removes her sneakers on Friday evenings.
Every two weeks, I see my dad’s stained shoelaces inside the washing machine waiting for all the dirt on it to be removed.
But my mom, my mom’s shoelaces are as black as coal hiding all the miseries and struggles they are encountering. The black laces, just like my mom, absorb all the pain and agony without complaining. And my mom, just like the black shoelaces, refuses to uncover the mask over her face; as always, she succeeds in camouflaging all her discomfort.
“How does she do that? How does she suffer so much and yet act like nothing happened? How?” I question my sister every Friday night when the moon is our only company.
“Magic,” my sister replies with the same one-word answer as always.
“Magic,” I whisper to myself, “magic.”
I hear my voice sinking. My eyes slowly surrender to the night making me too lazy to untangle my matted shoelaces for the next morning, so I release my hold on my dull sneakers until they hit the ground.
But eight hours later, just as the bright yellow sun shines upon my eyes, my semi-open eyes notice my black shoelaces, like two parallel lines that will never collide, completely untangled and ready to turn into a bow.
I remember the word that comes out of my sister’s mouth once a week.
“Magic,” I mumble as I blink my eyes composedly.
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