KEEP and SELL.
Francesca Garancini sat on the hardwood floor of her apartment surrounded by colorful designer shoeboxes. Their names rang out like beautiful music—Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier, Jimmy Choo—but their love songs were no longer meant for her. She opened each box and wistfully removed the shoes from their dust covers, stroking the python skin or the smooth kid leather, trying them on her feet and looking at them from several angles, even in her full length mirror. And then she boxed them up again and sent them to one of two piles demarcated with sharpie-written notes: KEEP and SELL.
The “sell” pile was disturbingly small, both in comparison to the “keep” pile and the stack of boxes she had yet to assess. So far she’d managed to eliminate a pair of MiuMiu red and black checkerboard watersnake heels and a pair of Alexander McQueen black velvet smoking slippers with gold skulls embroidered over the toes. She was ready to get rid of those; the shoes she’d worn to Moscow with Selim. The shoes she’d worn to her abortion.
She paused after saving, for now, her favorite pair of neon yellow Jimmy Choos (would it ever be possible to find that color again? It was so bright it was practically a neutral!) and lit a cigarette from the half-empty pack of Marlboros on the floor next to her. As she inhaled she kept from pursing her lips too tightly; she could barely afford wrinkles now. No money for Botox, plus she had to keep her skin looking youthful if she was going to find another rich man. Twenty-nine was the upper limit, even for someone in her circles.
Her former circles. Since summer she’d been slowly jettisoned from the social life she once knew. Opening night at La Scala last night and she had to read about it in the newspaper: her Uncle Marco, a grand patron, squiring her sister-in-law Giulietta to box seats; her ex-boyfriend Paolo Romaldo with a leggy blonde (another leggy blonde) on his arm where just a short year ago Francesca had been. Giulietta’s gown was overwrought with ruffles; the blonde looked like a hooker in a Topshop mini-dress; Francesca closed the Corriere della Sera in disgust.
She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in a white china saucer overflowing with the detritus of the only vice she could afford to maintain. Selim had said she was a beautiful smoker. He’d probably told his wife the same thing.