Lucy had lived next door to Miss Deville for six months but they had never spoken – Miss Deville stayed indoors a lot and Lucy was at work so it wasn’t until it snowed that February that they encountered one another properly. When Lucy got home she left her boots outside so as not to tramp snowy footprints through the house, and by the next day another pair of black boots exactly like them had appeared beside them in the porch their houses shared. Lucy had arrived at the same time as Miss Deville that particular afternoon, and they laughed because their boots were identical and the same size. Miss Deville said she hoped the snow would melt soon because she thought wearing black wellingtons was boring and Lucy had agreed.
The boots stayed next to each other until the end of the week. And then suddenly, Miss Deville’s were replaced with a pair of beautiful purple satin shoes. Lucy was looking at them them when Miss Deville appeared, lugging her shopping trolley. “I see you are admiring my shoes,” she said, fondly.
“Are they yours?” said Lucy, trying not to sound surprised because she had seen the cards in Miss Deville’s lounge window when she had turned eighty last month.
“Of course,” said Miss Deville, in a voice that suggested all old ladies wore purple kitten heels. “They’re my lucky shoes. I wore them every time I went out when I was young. Back then… all we did was dance… And whenever I wore those shoes, I always had someone to dance with me. A man,” she added, by way of explanation. Her smile had a wicked glint, but even so Lucy felt quite sad, because these days Miss Deville lived all alone and had very few visitors.
“So why are they outside?” Lucy asked, taking out her keys.
“Oh, I’ve been cleaning them up,” said Miss Deville casually. “And they look so much nicer than the black boots, don’t you think?” And she hobbled off, her wellingtons making a slurping noise through the slush.
The shoes stayed outside that evening. Lucy made sure Miss Deville was safely back indoors and then very quietly tried them on. And they fit perfectly, she smiled to herself, as she smoothed her dress and closed her door. She had been on her own too long and Miss Deville’s Good Luck shoes were exactly what she needed.
Two weeks later, once the snow had melted and Lucy had furiously discovered that the man she had met that night was not an artist called Serge but a married IT Manager called Darren from Chelmsford, she saw Miss Deville again. The shoes had disappeared. Miss Deville had that glint in her eye once more as she came outside, pulling on her gloves. “I haven’t seen you for a while,” said Lucy.
“Well, I’ve been terribly busy,” said Miss Deville, preening. And Lucy stared because behind her an old man with white hair appeared. “This is Clive,” said Miss Deville. “My new lover,” and she gave a tinkling laugh as he slapped her bottom. “I told you, those shoes are good luck shoes. They never fail.”
Lucy was thinking how they certainly hadn’t brought her any good fortune when Miss Deville seemed to sense this and leaned over. “But they only work for me, my dear,” she whispered, with a twinkle of knowing amusement as she and Clive walked away side by side, his stick tapping on the pavement and the wheels of her shopping trolley squeaking as the winter sun went down behind them.