Shoes for Little Sap

Shoes for Little Sap”

by Evan A Davis

The owl was the first thing I saw when I woke up.

She must have been watching me sleep, because she was looking at me too. She didn’t stir, just calmly picked at her own feathers at the foot of the bed I was in. I yawned and wriggled my toes while I looked around the dusty room. It was a workshop, small, cramped, and cluttered with tools and scraps of leather. My legs ached, but I moved to get out of the bed and the owl squawked at me. “Is she awake?” I heard a voice call through the curtain that was the room’s door. The curtain parted and a wrinkly old gnome walked in, wearing a dirty apron over loose, green robes. That was Gillyander.

It’s good to see you awake,” he said to me and smiled.

Where am I?”

Oh, dear,” he held my face gently by the chin. “You’re in my shop, have been for two days. I had Esmeralda here watch over you while you slept.” He motioned to the owl who’d gone back to scratching under her wing. “You’ve forgotten who you are, haven’t you, Little Sap?”

I sat up and thought, but he was right.

How did you know that?” I asked him. “And why do you call me that?”

It’s just a name for the meantime. And I know because your eyes have gone gray. This only happens to a fairy who has broken a promise to someone. The curse your kind suffer for such a thing is this, a robbing of your memory. Myself, I find it cruel.” Behind his thick glasses, his eyes were sad.

You could help me?”

I wish I was able, but alas, I have but one way. And you’re a Child of the Wood.”


You have no shoes.” He pointed to my bare toes. “Come, I’ll show you.”

He helped me out of bed and led me to the front of his store. There were racks and walls all full of shoes, some dirty, others clean; some new, others old and broken. One wall was particularly densely stacked with shoes, all clean and perfect. A dusting brush fluttered about on its own over these, keeping their polish.

I enjoy doing two things, Little Sap,” he said. “One is shaking someone’s hand and the other is fixing their shoes.”

Why is that?” I asked.

Before he could answer, a woman walked through the door holding a wrapped plate. “You wouldn’t allow me to pay you,” she said to Gillyander brusquely, “so allow me at least to thank you.” He insisted on shaking her hand before she left. He brought the plate to a table near me and undid the wrapping.

Ooh, pancakes!” he rejoiced. “Come, Sap, share them with me.”

I asked why he didn’t trade coin like other city folk. He told me that he only asked to shake their hand, and that was why he was always so busy. When I asked him why he did this, his answer made me smile.

I was a chronicler before,” he said. “I collected people’s stories. However, not everyone is so forthright, but I remained curious, you see. So, I entered the trade where I could see everyone’s story in the three places they cannot hide: their eyes, their hands, and their shoes.” He split the pancakes between us.

The distance one finds in the eyes of a beggar,” he continued between bites, “or the happiness one finds in the newly betrothed; the calluses on the fingers of an archer or under those of a smith; the stains on the boot of a hunter, or the empty heel on those of a scoundrel—all of these things tell stories that aren’t written or spoken, because they’re so beautifully far beyond words, you see.”

He invited me to stay with him a few days more and so I did.

Gillyander had a dusting feather that cleaned his racks for him, a quill that kept his ledger neat, a kettle which served him tea, and so many other wondrous things, but when the old cobbler worked, it was absent of magic. I saw him at work on an especially petite pair one day and asked him why this was.

Why, I don’t want to be rude,” he said. “Magic is loud, no matter how subtle. It would be like one talking at a play while the thespians tell you their tale, you see.” He set his tools down and turned to me. “Everyone and everything has a past that deserves to be told, Little Sap. Even old Ezzy, here.” He fed his owl a scrap from a pouch on his belt. “And you,” he said, handing me the small pair of shoes.

Thank you,” I told him and moved to fit them on, but he stopped me. He shuffled to the rear of the store and came back some minutes later holding a small brush and wooden box. He asked for my feet and lightly brushed their soles with dust from the box.

There,” he said when he had finished. “Now.”

I fit my feet into the shoes and for a moment there was a fuzzy tickle. He smiled at me and scattered a pinch of the dust on the floor. I smiled with him as I saw foot prints appear under the dust. He scattered more. All around the shop, tiny bare footprints—my footprints—appeared, glowing a light yellow. He led me to the door and sprinkled another pinch on the ground outside. A trail of glowing footprints dotted their way down the street.

Go find your promise, Little Sap.” He extended his hand. I kissed him on the cheek instead and ran down the street with my dust, my new shoes clacking against the cobblestone.

I miss him, but I know he did well after I left. A kiss from a fairy brings good fortune.

 I remember that now.


Evan Davis is an emerging author with an overactive imagination, which explains how he got here and why you’re reading this—which is great. Fiction being his first love, he’s written everything from bone-chilling horror to science fiction misadventures, bellyaching humor to thrilling fantasy, and every colorful dot in between.

His work can be found with Third Flatiron Publishing, The NIGHTLIGHT Podcast, Quill & Crow Publishing, The Common Tongue Magazine, The NoSleep Podcast, Flame Tree Publishing, and others; plus a blog he occasionally updates (


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