Backsliders | Dee Ashcroft

Comfort is character in this short story by Dee Ashcroft about treading on freedom for the sake of civility.


Backsliders

Dee Ashcroft

The Wood be Good Award


The notice was brief, bold and to the point:

No thongs or ugg boots allowed.

The council had changed the laws overnight, without warning. Every shopping centre, park and school drop-off zone was suddenly thong and ugg boot free. Large wheelie bins, painted blue, appeared at the end of every street. Here the offending footwear could be deposited. They were quickly collected and shipped off overseas to countries less affluent and ignorant of good taste.

Without the offending footwear to drag you down you took more care of your appearance, they said. And if you dressed better you felt better: were more polite and community minded. Out shopping, the town sparkled from the feet up. Every store and shoe-shop were made to remove unsuitable footwear from their shelves. Clauses were written in to every lease and house sale that no offending footwear was allowed.

The men of the town stopped wearing their blue singlets and stubbies, which looked odd without thongs. They also lost their grey trackie pants and check flannelette shirts. Women did not leave their house in pyjamas anymore. Council appointed new footwear rangers to conduct impromptu raids on residents to make sure the standard of footwear was upheld. Any resident found with thongs or ugg boots in their possession were immediately evicted and their homes leased or sold to prospective (well-shod) hopefuls on the waiting list. Prosperity and peace surrounded this haven of sensible footwear.

And yet, there where people who missed the comfort and warmth of slipping in to an uggy. They would travel in secret to the next town over, where they mingled with the thong wearers, who proudly slapped along the pavement. Inappropriate footwear holidays became a ‘thing’. Furtive gatherings took place in the home of renegades who valued comfort and ease above all else. Silently, comfortably, revolution began to brew. Whispered calls for change could just be heard above the rustling of flannel.

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