The dead tell no stories, but possessions left behind do. Photographs on the wall or in frames on the desk. Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say, but too often the awareness of a camera forces an image worth a thousand lies and the memories they depict are false. Possibly the intent, but likely not. Nobody asks anyone to walk a mile in their image.
Letters and journals tell more truth, but the author's ability to capture a moment leaves most to the imagination. A reader's subjective lies in lieu of a writer's subjective truths, strangers running with words they can only interpret using experiences from their own lives. The journey from birth to death lost in translation. It's easy to walk a mile in someone's words, but it is often not the same mile.
By the bed, a set of slippers. They, too, tell a story, of feet afraid of a cold or dirty floor. Watermarks reveal they were worn to the shower and back. An errant hair betrays a cat or a dog, not always allowed on the bed, curled up to sleep on the scent of a master's feet. A disdain of filth combined with an irrational love of animals.
Well-worn dress shoes near the front door. Matched with clothes found in a wardrobe, a tale told of one who cared enough to dress to impress. A salesperson or a manager. Hints of white collar abound, secrets whispered of a lifetime spent taking care of family. And younger days prowling expensive restaurants and bars for the one with which to start a family with. Perhaps the one in the photographs.
In the closet, stuffed diligently in the bottom of a duffel bag, a pair of ragged boots. A brush of black polish speaks of days long gone when a reflection could be seen in the toes. Sand from deserts and jungles, clues of days when friends were friends and enemies were enemies. A sense of duty lost in footprints made on other continents. Or just a need to do something different, something few were willing to do. Hidden for reasons unknown. Embarrassment from deeds better left unremembered, or maybe tears from memories of friends long buried.
Running shoes still in a box. Recognition of a life gone frail and an attempt too late to extend waning years. Or nearby broken-in cross-trainers, perchance, simply offered more comfort and familiarity. There are sandals worn on trips to the beach. Bronzed baby shoes a gift from a mother long departed. Clogs and sabos, souvenirs from travels abroad. Loafers for days when arthritis was too much to handle. And, most telling at all, plastic hospital shoes worn during a battle with life destined to be ultimately lost.
Stories never told, only walked. Forgotten stories of too many miles traveled before a much needed sleep, earned every step of the way.