She would have never thought that life would turn out like this. Growing up as one of the rich kids she always thought that being poor was a life-choice, that poor people were just lazy or uneducated and that this would be the reason for them to end up on the streets. Now she knew better. Being poor was not a choice. Everything could change in a heartbeat.
The choices made in the past haunted her, but the ones made today were simple. Would she come home with a Christmas tree or shoes for her boy? The ones he had were worn and far too small for his little feet, although he never moaned about them. If she’s careful next week, delays paying the electric bill a while and her tips are good she’ll be able to get a tree in time. She had managed to get some second hand toys from the thrift shop next door to her work so at least he’ll have something to unwrap on Christmas morning.
It’s starting to snow as she gets home and it’s getting cold. She looks at the thermostat on the wall but stops herself from turning the dial, reaching for the extra jumper instead. She’ll put the heating on for an hour at bath time, just enough to take the edge off the chill until he’s under the warmth of the bed clothes. A knock at the door tells her that her son is back, dropped off by his father. The boy runs upstairs, shouting a farewell to his Dad as the grown-ups make idle small talk before he returns to the car, leaning across to the passenger seat to kiss his latest girlfriend.
She sits at the kitchen while her son is in the bath, starts going through the contents of her purse. There’s about twenty dollars in cash plus a small amount of change. There’s enough food in the cupboards for a couple of days and she’s working a double tomorrow so they’ll be ok until Friday. She hears a clatter of feet upstairs as the boy runs from bath to bed. She goes up to join him and presents him with the tatty plastic bag containing the thrift store shoes. His eyes light up and he puts the shoes on straight away, overjoyed at having shoes that don’t hurt. She locks his smiling face away in her head and switches off the bedroom light.
“Mum” a soft voice muffled by blankets calls out “Thanks for the shoes”
“You’re welcome, goodnight”