Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: The Sins of the Mother
By Marita Vandertogt
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Scooter McPherson stared at the small figurine. Her hand rested on the bag she was holding, opening it slowly, creating a mouth, ready to swallow the statue. The other hand curved around the figurine of the young woman in a peony red dress. Scooter loved the figurines. She curved her hand around until it touched the edges of the blonde hair, the bare shoulders in the strapless gown. Scooter’s own clothes were vintage thrift store. Red dresses like these only hung in the closets of her mind.
Without looking up, she slid the figurine across the shelf and expertly guided it into the bag slung over her arm. It landed with a small thud on the bottom. Scooter never looked up to see if anyone was watching. She just walked down the aisle and out the door.
This was how Scooter McPherson shopped. She learned it from her mother, only her mother used to slide cans of baby food, and milk powder from grocery store shelves into a huge diaper bag. She’d watch her mother pull the things into her bag, and ask out loud if she could get some cookies for her momma’s bag as well. When they got home, the cookies would appear on the kitchen table, and Scooter ate them while her momma fed the baby.
That wasn’t so many years ago. And her momma never got caught. At least not at the store. She did get caught though, at a church service, when she tried to take money out of the offering bag that came around, pretending to put money in. When she got caught, she tried to tell them that she was just making change for the $50.00 she’d dropped in. She should have gone lower, because there were no $50.00 bills in the bag. They didn’t call the police or have her prosecuted, but they did make her promise to never do it again. After that, they came around to the house a lot, asking if Scooter would like to come to Sunday School. She went, and sat in a circle with kids her own age, dressed in their Sunday best. Scooter’s Sunday best was the same as her Monday, or Tuesday, or Friday best. She stopped going.
The figurine rattled in the bag as she walked, and she sat on a bench in the middle of the mall, far enough away from the store, and pulled it out. She stroked nail bitten fingers over the beautiful red gown. Someday, she said to herself, I’ll be dressed just like that. Someday.
The next thing she knew, a voice, deep, yet muted, asked her to stand and follow him. He took her arm and walked her to the mall offices, and deposited her in front of a woman who told him to close the door, and come back in a few minutes.
Scooter’s heart beat fast, so fast she couldn’t concentrate on the grey haired woman in her two piece fancy suit in front of her.
“Empty the bag,” the woman said.
“I just forgot to pay for it, that’s all,” Scooter’s voice was low, shaky.
“Well, that may be,” the woman said, “But to me, it’s still shoplifting and that’s a crime.”
Scooter pulled the figurine from the bag. Her mother never got caught. She didn’t know how to handle this part of it.
“This is a warning,” the woman told her. “If we catch you doing this again, it will be jail. Do you hear me?” Her voice was stern and Scooter pulled her shoulders in and stared at the floor. “Yes ma’am,” is all she said. “Thank you.”
Only three days later, Scooter chose another mall, and another figurine to slip into her bag. She also slipped in a sterling silver ring, a pair of fuzzy blue slippers and a watch. She didn’t know why. It just felt good. The rush. Half the things she picked up she gave away as gifts.
Scooter still takes things from store shelves, just like she saw her mother do. It feels good. And for some reason, she just can’t seem to stop.
Jeremiah 32:18 (New International Version)
You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the fathers' sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty.
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