She stared up at the massive building, the cold eating away at her jacket. It wasn’t fair that she should have to stay outside. “We’re not like them”, her mother’s words echoed in her mind. “They don’t understand us.” Maybe they did, she thought—weren’t they all people? She took a deep breath and walked through the sliding doors. A blast of warmth spread across her face and seeped into her bones. Timidly she smiled and walked further, taking in the smell of buttered popcorn coming from the little kitchen and the bold, bright colors of the signs above her. She walked among the aisles, through the purses, the coats, the books. Everything smelled new. Those that passed her looked her over, their ridged stares digging under her skin. “We’re not like them,” her mother’s voice said again. Maybe Mother was right—everyone looked so polished and clean here.
The little girl made a left turn and stopped. Her eyes gleamed as she took in the sight—fuzzy boots, colorful sneakers, shiny dress shoes. From the corner of her eye, something glittered. She turned, and on the shelf above her head, she saw a pair of sparkling green church shoes, complete with a single strap and a little black bow on each. She climbed onto the bottom rack and reached, grabbing the display and falling backwards onto the floor. The shoes shimmered under the fluorescent lights as she turned them in her hands, making the glitter dance. She slipped off her worn sneakers and stuffed her feet inside. They were a bit snug, but that was okay. Would anyone notice if they went missing? There were so many still wrapped in boxes…
She picked up her worn sneakers and hurried back towards the door. “They don’t understand,” she thought as she neared the scent of butter once again, “I need these.” As she crossed the threshold into the cold, a screech pierced the air.
“Hey! Stop!” a man called. She froze, unsure of what to do as he came closer. Mother wouldn’t be pleased if she didn’t come home. “They don’t understand. We’re not like them.”
With a pit in her gut, the girl bolted into the snowy street, her sneakers still fast in her hands as she tore through the parking lot between the cars, back towards the highway. The sparkling shoes, green and bright, sat abandoned in the doorway.
Copyright © Kat Jenning//Shade Shadows 2012-2016