When she was forced to come face to face with the Roman statue-like massiveness of her feet every so often, usually in the scenario of a pedicure, she could only blame that massiveness on her childhood. Permitted to run around the yard barefoot while the rest of the prim and proper girls were told to play inside with their dolls, Johanna would later insist that the reason her feet were so wide was as a result of the way in which they had been given unbridled license to spread. To expand with as much wildness as the very nature she ran amid in her youth.
As her friends and acquaintances would gush to her about the latest Barbie or invite her over to partake of their Easy-Bake Oven parties, she would vehemently decline, saying that she had her own pursuits in the wooded area near the lake by her house. Although she might have easily been pegged as a loner, therefore “loser,” she was too sociable for total ostracism. No, she was just “normal” enough to “pass” as a trans person might for being the gender of their desire. In point of fact, Johanna often felt made to be trans in her relegated role of “tomboy” by sole virtue of preferring to spend her time outdoors over inside with the rest of the pale-skinned pussies. It was around this time that she got it into her head that maybe to be female was not just to have a pussy, but to be a pussy.
Ruminating on this notion to herself as she cavorted through the grassy fields near the duck-filled lake, she let her feet continue to spread, widen. Grow to their full potential in a way that she never would. She could see her toes stretch and expand as she pressed them with almost deliberate protest against all the things she was supposed to be in her guise as “girl”: dainty, petite, concerned with appearance. As the course of her years spread with as much fervor as her burgeoning feet, she learned to go with the flow of civilization, to put her shoes on, even though they were all uncomfortable. Every last pair. Perhaps especially the athletic ones intended to be some source of “cushioned comfort.”
For her, the only comfort that could be gathered out of anything was being barefoot. She would seize the opportunity to be just that the moment school got out. The moment that decorum couldn’t be enforced. She would practically sprint toward the path leading toward the foothills. Yes, the foothills, where her own feet could be set free. And, in turn, some vague part of herself. The one she had spent the past several years suppressing for the benefit of appearing “okay.” Not just to her family, but to her peers. For what mattered more in this suburban life than appearance? Apart from, of course, having a gym membership and a driver’s license to get to said gym. Which involved putting on athletic shoes.
While she didn’t mind the increasingly expansive size of her feet, that seemed to balloon from a woman’s size nine to eleven in the brief period of the summer in between her freshman and sophomore year of high school, her parents were quite wary. It wasn’t just that the shoes were harder to find and more expensive, it was that she was starting to be talked about. People were wondering what use she could be in her position as a freak. If not a basketball player, then what? Not that the high school even had a girl’s basketball team, but still. How were they ever going to get one without Big Foot Johanna championing the cause. And that is what they took to, unoriginally, calling her as time wore on. Her feet so unignorable in size that they soon alternated between addressing her as Big Foot and Ronald McDonald. She preferred neither, wishing daily for invisibility that would not come. Though she tried her best to tread lightly, in every way possible. Literal, metaphorical. Metaphysical. But the world wouldn’t ignore her the way it did the other misfits. Her presence–her feet–being, quite simply, too large.
Deciding that no matter what she did, she would be forever singled out and maligned as a freak, therefore a reject, she decided one day to show up to school in her true and unadulterated state–her fictile feet on full display in all their bare, wide glory. As she thudded down the halls with a gait that was a deliberate sendup of the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk (though no one seemed to pick up on the homage), she could hear the simultaneous snickers of delight and gasps of horror. All intermixed to combine into one cacophony of public contempt. A modern day lynching without the purposeful bloodshed.
Well, she was just about finished with apologizing for wanting to be a woman who ran with the wolves, as it were. A woman who could let her feet revel and rejoice in the cold, sludgy feel of the muck and the mire. The very place where society resided, yet somehow thought it was above. She grinned to herself as she continued down the hall. This was the moment her entire life had been leading up to . The moment that all the various circumstances had been pushing her toward. She couldn’t very well renege on it now. Just when she was given the call to act. To fulfill a prophecy even she couldn’t fully understand the full weight of. A weight almost as grave as the one she was about to put on her fellow student body as she proceeded to barrel through the hallway with her wheelbarrow filled with sacks upon sacks of dirt.
She heaved it at and on all of them. Mercilessly, relentlessly. Fueled by a pure and unstoppable desire for them to know how base and worthless they truly were. Once she had laid the groundwork, she proceeded to heed societal norms by putting on shoes. Specifically steel-toed boots. So that she could step all over them in their dirt-covered state. At last, a “purpose” behind the reason for her wide-brimmed feet.