It was not unusual for a young boy around ten years, to be about on Christmas day. Yet, anyone watching from the street could easily ask, "Why isn't he with someone or at home? Perhaps, opening presents at the base of a tree with the scent of excitement---surrounded by food, family; or a few friends?
She was huddled on the sidewalk, with two bags. Tiredness seemed to grip her as she clutched them. One contained clothes donated by a local church. The other held leftover scraps of food, given from a friendly restaurant---Chinese Canadian dishes. The boy sensed she was not happy. How could anyone be, sitting on a pile of snow, instead of somewhere warm? His blond hair whipped in the wind. After pulling his winter collar higher, he adjusted his hat. Gloves cloaked warm hands. The lady had no gloves, or else she wouldn't be tucking them into a frayed summer jacket. He thought about giving the lady his own.
Her jacket had two buttons missing, and the wind soon discovered this path to the chilled body underneath. Green rubber boots had a hole in one side. No socks meant colder feet. The boy had seen her every time he came downtown. She had few friends, heard her mention having arthritis to no one in particular and even talked to herself about a family. She hadn't seen them nor any of her children for a year. Would they even recognize her now?
Snowflakes followed the boy across the street. It was narrow, with few cars parked next to snow banks and he headed directly to the lady. He heard her being called, "bag lady" once.
It was three o'clock as the sun blistered its way through the cloudy sky. Darker clouds were burned away, and a smile crossed the boy's face. His eyes focused on the lady who seemed agitated as she sought an afternoon snack in her food bag. "Anyone wanna join me for lunch?" she chortled to no one in particular.
Those two words snapped forth like a bolt of lightning. The boy grinned as he took the lady's hand, and selected a gooey do-nut. She was pleased for the company, and sat down. The boy joined her in the softness of a snow bank.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Doesn't matter," he answered, matter-of-fact He had a slight accent in his voice.
"You runnin' away from home?"
"Eat your do-nut," she demanded. And he did.
From the perspective of a young boy everything was interesting. He eagerly sought answers. "How come you spend so much time around here?" he asked.
"Got no family, no friends," she answered. "Like it here."
"You got me," the boy said.
Now it was her turn to smile. She felt sorry for the little fella, so young, and away from home. It was a good feeling to tell him she would walk him home. It was the least she could do after he asked her. Home; the word embraced her. Once she had such a place. But that was so long ago, before all the hospital visits. And then the memory of those days simply faded away.
Somehow she ended up on the street. At least there was no one to tell her what to do, where to sleep, and the hour to turn in. But, she knew something was missing. It was all so vague.
His hand clutched hers tightly, and an extra squeeze was reassuring. One of her little girls used to do the same; such tiny hands. How did she remember that, she wondered?
Down the street they went, a boy and someone's mom; past a variety store, clothing place and a restaurant. Home---where she wished she was. Maybe she could ask to stay the night with the boy's family. That was a great idea. It resonated rather well in her sleepy head.
He took her on a roundabout journey through town, via side streets, and one-way blocks, as if he hated to allow her return to the place in front of the restaurant. The kind owner often gave her food to help in her street survive each day. He understood her desire to hide away, and pain in her limbs difficult to live with. Her clothes---layers of hand me downs. She knew she was not pretty to look at, and should never allow her children to see the way she turned out.
If only things had been different, she thought---
The boy led her to a street once familiar to her. The last time she was here was a year ago, but would not stay. Living on the street was too comfortable, where the pain of separation was muted, in spite of difficult moments. She had left with tears not knowing if she would ever return. But now, she stood in front of her daughter's house.
"Why did you bring me here?" she asked the little boy. "I thought you wanted me to bring you home."
"This is home," the boy answered, as if she had posed a question, "yours." Then he pushed the doorbell and ran off as he heard someone come to answer the call.
The lady stood there on the porch, the light illuminating her, and smiled. Perhaps it was time, she thought, to try once more---to see it through. If her daughter asked her to stay again, she would say, "Yes."
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My wife, Esther and I are "born-again" and enjoy sharing our writing. It is a Christian Outreach for us. Our E-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are invited to visit our website at: www.wsprog.com/rp/. Free downloads available. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Please pray for one another.