I crossed the room and looked at them closely. Glimmering? Although I didn't pretend to know the precise definition of this personal word of Kathy's, I had to agree with Susan. I could see no glimmer or magic to these shoes though they were pretty.
"Girls, you can help me straighten the folded piles. And when we have a customer, you can help me package up their things for them, okay?"
Kathy jumped up and down in delight. Susan only nodded, looking slightly bored.
The afternoon seemed to drag on forever. We had one or two people come in every 15 minutes or so, who would select things which we would wrap for them. I found myself feeling more and more resentment towards Emma.
This had been a wasted afternoon. As far as I could tell, no one had desperately needed the clothes they came to find today. Our being closed for the day would have caused very little inconvenience for anyone. Those who dropped by could have come back next week.
And then at about 4 o'clock a young woman came in, holding a little girl about Kathy's age by the hand while a little boy held onto her skirt, sucking his thumb. I tried not to stare though I was, I have to admit I was shocked at her appearance.
The people who had wandered in and out of the clothes closet all afternoon had been less fortunate than my family, certainly. They had worn clothes that had seen better days and were, in many cases, rather threadbare.
But this young woman, who didn't look to be much out of her teens, was wearing skimpy sandals though it was it was a brisk, cold day. She had a thin sweater over a flimsy, summer dress, nearly worn through in places. Her children were dressed more warmly, in layers, but they wore more patches than material.
The little girl was so thin it broke my heart to see standing in the same room with my well - fed, healthy girls. And the little boy's nose ran. He coughed hoarsely and constantly.
"May I....may I help you?" I offered, swallowing to keep down the lump that was growing in my throat.
She gave me a thin, shy smile.
"Well, I...I heard about this place from the lady downtown at the employment office. She said...well, she said things here were free."
Her voice had trickled to a whisper, and I rushed to cover her embarrassment, to try to make her feel welcome.
"Yes, of course, they are, and you're welcome to take your time and browse. If I can help you find anything, just, please, ask me."
to be continued