I believe in earning what you have.
I don’t mean to sound like a workaholic, or to praise overworking, that’s really not the point. But I do believe in gritting one’s teeth, not shying away from a honest day’s work, and going out in the world to get your share. It might not always be a fair one, but it’s the one thing you can act upon. The one element in your life you have some control over.
And I can smile to myself, as I unlock my front door and step inside my home after a tiresome, but fulfilling day as a lab technician, that I’ve earned all of this. This apartment might not be much to write home about, but it’s mine. So is the car, and the phone, and the big plasma TV – no handouts, no gifts. It was all a product of my grind, my determination.
Still, time off is time off. I can’t wait to crash on the sofa next to Frank, my partner, and watch some Netflix with him. He has his own place, and only sleeps over on weekends, but we’ll get to spend some time together before he has to go. Maybe we can order dinner – I’ve been in the mood for poke all week! My head in the clouds, I leave my bag on a chair in the kitchen, and then peek inside the living room.
Frank got home earlier than me, as expected, and is intently staring at his phone while lounging on the sofa. He’s wearing headphones, and facing the opposite way from me. He has no idea I’m here.
A mischievous thought crosses my mind, so I crouch and take one velvety step after another. Thankfully, my small frame and light body means my steps are as quiet as a cat’s. I get as close as I dare, close enough that I can smell the soft scent of his hair – and then pounce, tickling his shoulders.
“Honeeey, I’m home!” I shout, laughing, as he fumbles in fear, dropping his phone on the sofa. I catch a brief glimpse of a pair of feet on the screen, but I’m too busy laughing to think about what he might be browsing.
“Jesus, Jenna, you scared the hell out of me!” He says, shock on his face that slowly morphs into amusement, then laughter. I laugh along, joyful – but I also pick up on something. Frank looks flustered, but not just for the surprise. He looks… embarassed.
Was he looking at something he didn’t want me to see?
I let my eyes glance back to his phone, now resting on the seat of the sofa. Huh. Those are unmistakably feet on the screen, so he must have been randomly browsing social media or something. “What’s that?” I ask in a neutral, but curious tone as I nod towards the phone.
Frank is an open book for me. The way he tugs at the collar of his shirt, the scratching of his chin – he’s considering whether to lie or not. To his credit, it lasts only for a moment, before he goes for honesty. “It’s Holly,” he says, without meeting my eyes.
Umph. Sometimes I wish Frank had cut her off from his life for good.
But… that’s selfish of me. Many husbands hate their ex-wives, but that’s not Frank’s case – he and Holly are still on good terms. I actually took that as a very positive sign when we first started dating – an indication that Frank was emotionally mature and dependable.
It’s just… I really dislike Holly. Frank’s recollections of their marriage paint her like a self-centered narcisist, and the few times we’ve met at social events held by mutual acquaintances have corroborated that impression. She’s pretty much the opposite of me: lazy, prideful, and more than happy to mooch off Frank when they were together.
With his middle management position at an IT firm, he couldn’t exactly roll the red carpet for her, but he had enough disposable income to provide extra comforts. I pride myself in being different, and contributing to the relationship as my finances allowed for.
I arch an eyebrow. “Does Holly get a kick out of posting her feet on social media?” I ask. I know some people have a penchant for posting stuff that is weird or inappropriate, but feet are such a… bizarre subject for a photo, let alone a social media post.
“Well, it’s her-” Frank says, his voice breaking up a little. Then, he collects himself. “It’s her secondary Instagram account. For foot stuff only. She posts a few freebies, and fans pay for extra photos and videos of her feet. You know, fetish stuff.”
“Oh,” I say. And then, “Oh!”. I blink, very slowly, trying to process the information in my mind. Four things swirl through my brain.
One: Holly has a second Insta account, entirely dedicated to photos of her feet. What?
Two: people pay to get more photos of her feet. What?! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been living under a rock all this time. Intellectually, I know there are people who are into feet. The world is wild like that. I really can’t understand how anyone could be attracted to such a gross body part, but whatever floats your boat, right? But to be actually willing to pay for pics… damn!
Three: Holly? Seriously? I mean, it fits with her reputation as a mild gold-digger. If anyone had the opportunity to get free money off losers in exchange for photos of random body parts, she’d definitely be the one to take it, but why would people like her enough to actually pay?
I’m not saying she’s ugly. Hell, she’s even a redhead, and I’ve met my share of guys who would consider that reason enough to bang her. It’s just, she’s a bit… well, not fat. Just a bit heavier than what would be deemed conventionally attractive.
Maybe I’m biased, I’m very petite. But I bet her feet are fleshy and beefy. Why would even a foot fetishist be into that?
Four: Frank knew of this page. He was browsing it.
“Were you… checking it out?” I feel a lump in my throat as I study him, the blush on his cheeks, the way he averts his eyes.
“Yeah,” he says, his voice a whisper.
I gulp. “I didn’t know you were into…”
“I never told you,” Frank hurries to answer, cutting me off. “You mentioned early on that it grossed you out, and I just… it’s fine.”
Damn. I hadn’t wanted to make him feel misunderstood, or like I thought there was something wrong with him. How is a simple conversation over Instagram spiralling so fast out of control? I hate the sudden awkwardness that’s descending between us.
“I’m sorry, Frank.”
“Don’t be.” His hand brushes against my cheek. “I’m happy with our sex life. I mean it. Having different kinks with different partners isn’t all that weird.”
I nod, gratefully. I know I should drop it here, leave it at that, but there’s still something nagging me, an annoying presence at the back of my brain, an itch that needs scratching and will not be denied. A curiosity, perhaps.
Or… a pull.
“Did you… When you were together? You know.”
For the first time since the beginning of the conversation, Frank doesn’t look embarassed, rather genuinely taken aback. “Yeah, of course. Why’re you asking, Jenna? I don’t have the hots for her just because I was looking at her foot pics.”
That’s not really the part that tugs at my curiosity, though. I can’t put it to words, because I don’t understand it myself, but it’s not disloyalty that worries me. It’s why anyone would willingly partake in something this icky, maybe?
“What did you do?”
Frank runs a hand through his hair, sighing. “I mean, I think you can imagine. Nothing special. We included them in light roleplay, sometimes. I would worship her feet-“
“Worship,” I say, breathless, in a tone that sounds like I’ve just been sucker-punched. That’s not even a sexual word, or at least I never thought of it as one. Worship feet. What does that even mean?
I need to have a look for myself. Need to understand what it’s about. I make a note of the Insta handle (@solemonarch, seriously?) and then give Frank my most reassuring smile. The smile that consoled him after he and Holly broke up. He’s mine now, you fetishist weirdo.
“Thanks for sharing this with me, Frank,” I say, and I do mean it. “I was just curious, that’s all.”
Then I lean close to him, batting my eyelashes. “So, would you like poke for dinner?”
The evening with Frank goes by mildly awkwardly, as we both pretend nothing happened. That saddens me a little, but I know to be patient with these things – it’ll pass. Besides, my mind is all caught up in something else. Namely, in the whole notion of a foot fetish so compelling that people are willing to pay just to look at photos.
I barely pay any heed to Netflix as I obsess over this newfound information. I mean, a foot’s a foot, right? Even if you’re into those, they look pretty… interchangeable? Why would you pay to see photos of feet, where surely the internet has an endless supply of photos available for you to peruse! It makes no sense!
When Frank leaves for the night, the old warmth is there in his hug and his kiss, and I already feel better about myself. I just wish I could stop myself from overthinking this whole foot stuff. I’m not normally an obsessive person at all, so this is doubly unusual for me.
Well, maybe I just need to research it a little, and then I’ll get over it. Hair of the dog, all that. I prepare myself for the night, and then spend the waning hours of my day immersed in comfortable study of Holly’s secret Instagram account.
I stare at her foot pics like they’re some kind of alien artifact. What’s so attractive about them? The toes are toes, the soles are soles, and the heels are heels. If there’s anything distinctive about her feet as opposed to that of any random person, I certainly can’t spot them.
Ok, you can tell they belong to a chubby girl. But still. Admittedly I’ve only seen Holly a handful of times, but God knows I’d never be able to tell this account belongs to her, if not for Frank explicitly telling me.
My fingers dart at the screen in a blur, and as I browse through photo after photo, I start to identify patterns. Poses seem to return, over and over. I get that each pose is meant to convey something, at least.
Frequently, Holly’s feet will be pressed against something, and stretching, like she’s trying to check her own toes. Not sure what that’s supposed to convey.
Occasionally, they will be crossed at the ankles, and maybe resting atop something, and that one is clearer: relaxation.
Sometimes, Holly crosses her legs before snapping the pic. One foot is planted firmly on the floor, while the other dangles at an angle, the ankle slightly rotated – like her foot is being proffered to some kind of… supplicant.
It is way past my bedtime when I decide to quit for the night. I have a better idea of the visual framing of foot fetish, for sure: the psychology of disrespect when you put your feet on somebody, or when you make them tend to your feet and shoes. The royal, casual confidence of sticking them up on furniture, in front of the camera, or in people’s faces… the luxuriating power of resting them atop something, maybe. Or someone’s head.
But for all this learning, I don’t feel like I’ve gained any actual, new insight into what makes fetishists tick. And you know what, this would normally be fine. It ain’t my kink, but others are into it, and that’s all I need to know. I can move on with my life.
Except I can’t. I keep turning the issue over and over in my head, until I fall asleep.
The next few days go by in a blur. Frank and I go back to normal, and I let work in the lab absorb me once again. But my curiosity doesn’t really leave. Multiple times a day, I find myself going back to Insta, back to solemonarch (monarch, she thinks she’s a queen, ugh), staring at the photos like they’re made of non-Euclidean geometry. I don’t even know what I’m looking for, exactly.
But I keep looking.
Eventually, during one work break that’s lasting a little longer than it’s really supposed to, a brilliant idea strikes me!
So far, I’ve only looked at Holly’s free pics. Maybe there’s something special about the paid ones. Something that will let me understand this fetish better. That certainly makes sense in my head… somehow.
I take pains to mask my identity before proceeding with the purchase. Fake email address, professional VPN… unfortunately my own PayPal account, but Holly doesn’t know it, and I doubt the subject will come up the next time we’re all over at the Campbells’ for a party.
I begrudgingly part ways with 50 dollars for a set of five photos, part of a so-called “servant set” – I’m not exactly clear on the terminology she’s using for her products, but damn, this is expensive stuff. I wonder if it differs from her free Insta pics in any way. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to give it to her, she’s running the ultimate scam.
But, apparently, it does differ. The photos are not what I expected. They involve another person– his face blurred out to protect his identity, but it’s clearly a man. Holly uses his head as a footrest, placing her soles on his neck, the back of his head, his forehead… his lips, I notice with a blush that nearly makes me look away.
I suppress the reaction. Intellectually, I already knew this had to be part of the whole thing, right? How else are you supposed to play with feet? But a part of me still finds it shocking that Holly thinks she’s good enough to deserve to stick her feet in people’s faces, much less than other people seem to agree with this. They let her do it. They buy her gifts for the privilege.
Hell, they pay to watch her put people in their places. And in a twisted way, so have I – but it was only for science, at least. Or so I tell myself.
I should be satisfied with what I’ve seen, and leave it at that. In fact, I repeat it like it’s a mantra, until I fall asleep. Unfortunately, my subconscious remains unconvinced by the argument…
In the paleness of the early morning, in that nebulous land between full sleep and being truly awake, my mind wanders to unbidden images of Holly and Frank. Holly doesn’t just post foot pics for money, does she? She likes resting her feet on people’s faces, surely. She’s done it before.
She’s done it to Frank.
I can see it, in my half-asleep mental trip. Her soles, planted firmly upon the face of the man who’d been her husband. A gesture that signalled Holly’s expectation of worship. A gesture of ownership.
The mouth I kiss every night is the mouth that was on her feet. Under them. Maybe even sucking her toes like they were dicks. I feel humiliated by proxy, belittled, and a weird shiver goes through me.
Damn, I really can’t get this stuff out of my head. When I wake up, my first instinct is to check whether Holly has uploaded anything new. Ugghh. There’s curiosity, and there’s downright obsession. I want to put my phone down, but I can’t help it – I find my fingers tapping on the app anyway.
No new photos, for now.
I tell myself that the pang I feel is not disappointment.
At work, things aren’t getting better. I assumed the work would distract me, put my mind off this weird fixation I have suddenly developed. I stare at my female colleagues and I wonder if any of them have a foot fetish, and more poignantly, if any of them have acted upon it. Have they ever revelled in smacking their feet in someone’s face? Have they ever complied docilely while someone else placed their feet on them?
And why the hell won’t my stupid brain shut up with this crap?
Sigh. I leave work in a grumpy mood, knowing that I’ll be going back to an empty apartment – Frank is on a business trip until next Tuesday. Well, whatever. I might as well take the opportunity to do something I’ve been procrastinating forever, and visit the mall. I need a new pair of shoes anyway – at last, something foot-related that has nothing to do with my current obsession!
Well, mostly nothing. As I make my way through town and eventually into the mall, I keep staring at the women’s heels and boots. Do their feet hurt or sweat in them? I mean, I know mine do in similar situations… what I’m really asking is, do they have someone taking care of them? Smelling them? Kissing them?
Foot fetishists are so weird. It’s like I can’t unsee the fact that they’re all around us, out here in the world, even though I don’t know who they are. But if there’s any at the mall right now, I bet they’d be hanging around the shoe racks I’m currently browsing myself. Then again, I’m only here to buy boring sneakers. Surely no one has a fetish about those, right?
I find nothing I like, and no price I would consider fair for a banal, comfy pair of sneakers. Umph, this day really isn’t going my way. Maybe I’ll have better luck in one of the other stores here at the mall. I turn away from the meagre selection, ready to walk out of the store –
And it feels like the weight of the entire world has just crashed down upon me.
Sitting before me, one leg crossed over the other, one socked foot dangling in the air, an elegant ankle boot in hand, is Holly.
My breath cuts, my heart skips a beat, and cold shivers tickle my spine. I blink in confusion, wondering for a moment whether this is even real, or whether my obsession has finally tipped over into mental instability. But no, she’s definitely here.
Here to buy shoes.
Her red hair drapes her shoulders in a fiery mane. She’s chubby, but not fat, with clever green eyes that glimmer under the store’s lights, and I’m definitely seeing her differently than I usually do, because for the first time, I don’t feel prettier than her. She’s sitting with a regal confidence that I could never match. Not even in a million years.
Holly must have felt my burning gaze upon her. She twitches in discomfort, then looks up, and recognition dawns in her eyes.
“Jenna? Oh, hi! Fancy seeing you here!”
“Hi, Holly,” I say in a tiny, quiet girly voice I’m sure I’ve never used before. Damn, damn, damn, my stupid, self-sabotaging brain is going to land me into a spot of trouble. “H-how are you?”
Holly frowns. God, I think she’s quite perceptive. I think she knows something’s wrong with me, but can’t really understand why. “All good! I was just about to try these ankle boots. I hope they fit, they look fantastic. And you?”
“I’m sure they’ll look great on you!” I say, with a hysterical giggle. Weird. “I was here to buy sneakers, but I don’t see much I like! Well, except those boots!” Weirder. For fuck’s sake, Jenna, steer clear! “I mean, not that I’m going to steal them from you or anything.”
“I’m sure they have more than one pair,” Holly says, with a look of mild bemusement.
“Yes of course! I just meant that, you know, they wouldn’t fit me as well as they, uhh, do your feet.” Weirdest of all! All systems red, all systems red!
“I should get out of here,” I say, and begin to duck away, mortified by how complete a fool I’ve just made of myself.
“Wait,” Holly says in a tone that brooks no discussion and scythes through me like a command. Is this the tone she uses with the people that worship her feet?
I stop cold, and turn back to face her, hoping my cheeks aren’t as noticeably reddened as I fear they are. “Yes, Holly?”
“Is everything alright?” She asks me, with the inquisitive, calculating stare of a predator.
I realise with horror that, while Holly and I have interacted in the past, it was never one-on-one. Never like this. I have no other party-goer to create a distraction or rescue me. I’m alone, under the unflinching stare she’s directing at me like a stage beacon, and I feel so very vulnerable. What am I going to say?
Improvise, Jenna, improvise!
“I,” I begin, in a mousy voice, “I don’t really understand foot fetishists.”
Oh God. What the hell have I just said? I gasp and bring a hand to my lips as soon as I realise, but the horse has already left the stable. Holly stares at me with an even expression, and then snorts a little.
“Let me guess. Frank told you.”
“I saw your Insta account!” I say, a bit too loudly, and then lower my voice back to the weak, mousy tone that seems to come naturally to me. “It’s going to sound stupid, but I don’t really understand this whole foot fetish thingy.”
Holly shrugs. “I mean, do you need to?”
“Yes!” I say, cringeing at the intensity of my own response. Even Holly flinches a little at that. Oh God I legit want to die right now. My social standing is going to be buried. I’m coming across as a creep, a goddamn weirdo.
But Holly doesn’t shout at me, or politely but coldly asks me to leave her alone. In a way, what she does is much, much worse.
She stares at me, then at the ankle boot she’s holding, then at me. Then, she extends her arm.
“I can show you,” she says with a smile that’s maybe supposed to be inviting, but looks more like the crocodile’s right before the wildebeest tries to cross the river. “It’s quite simple, really. Just put this shoe on me.”
I should go, but the imperious tone of her last words seals my fate before I can muster the courage to bolt out of the store. My own curiosity has doomed me, and now I find myself drawn to this redhead like a moth to a flame.
I take the boot in my hands. I own boots myself, and they’ve always just been clothes to me, but for the first time, the contact of my fingers with the leathers is like a brush of electricity, almost… sexually charged. It isn’t just a shoe. It’s a symbol.
I stare into Holly’s green eyes, and she nods. I might not understand foot fetish, but if there’s one thing that’s clear to me is the visual symbols it relies upon, and I find myself thrust at the very heart of one of them.
Cursing the curiosity and obsessions that have acted as mile markers on my road to damnation, I get down on one knee, and slip the ankle boot on Holly’s proffered foot.
It fits perfectly, elegantly, and I feel so humbled as she stands up and tries a few tentative steps in it, while I remain on one knee. I suddenly feel acutely aware that this is Frank’s ex-wife, treating me like I’m a PA or something.
Hell, or worse.
Holly sits back down, patting me on the head like I’m some kind of pet. It should infuriate me. Instead, I feel a sudden warmth, and I have to admit to myself, I’m starting to run out of rationalisations for my behaviour. I feel like the answer is obvious, but I don’t want to confront it. It scares me.
Unfortunately, Holly has no such qualms.
“It’s perfect! What do you think, Jenna?”
“It looks amazing on you,” I say with a tone of genuine admiration.
“Thanks! Be a dear, go ahead and buy it for me.”
The boldness of her request stuns me. I suddenly remember why I dislike her so much – she’s a leech, a gold digger, everything I pride myself not to be. But my indignation quickly subsides. I’m literally debasing myself here, living out a fetish I don’t even think I have. Well, maybe. Still, what right do I have to judge her?
In for a penny. I wince as the cashier swipes my credit card, and even more so when I notice Holly is waiting for me outside the store. I grab the bag with her brand-new ankle boots, paid with my hard-earned money, and join her outside, handing her the bag.
“Oh no,” says Holly. “You’re taking this to my car. Come with me.”
“Yes, Holly,” I say, defeated. The speed of my own downfall is so shocking I can barely process it, and Holly must be thinking along similar lines, because she’s muttering to herself.
“Who knew you’d be like this.” She throws me a sidelong glance, and then raises her voice. “Have you got any plans for the weekend?”
“Frank’s away…” I say, too scared to venture further with my words. But where I am meek and hesitant, Holly is decisive.
“That’s very good.” Her eyes sparkle with sadistic amusement, so evidently cocky and superior that it sends a spasm through my body and straight to the heart of my growing arousal. “You and I, my dear Jenna, have so very much to talk about.”