A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2017 Karen Lockhart
Over breakfast, Ellen and I decided to take Wendy shopping for some clothes of her own. I volunteered to take her to Marshals and Walmart in the afternoon, while Ellen would make a call to a local clinic for a check-up for our “niece”.
Just before we left to go shopping, Ellen asked if I thought having Wendy see Doctor Singh, my endocrinologist, would be a good idea.
“A great idea! Let me call and see if she has a time available in the next week.”
While Ellen and I were talking about doctors' appointments, I could see Wendy getting nervous. The phone rang, and she jumped out of her chair, looking towards the door.
Why is she that jumpy after living on the streets for two years? Was there something else going on? I decided to ask what Ellen thought that night.
“Okay Wendy, lets go do some shopping!”
That got a big smile, she beat me to the SUV and started asking what we were going to buy.
“First we'll go to a store called Marshals in Swampscott. They carry last years colors and left over small size lots. You don't mind wearing last year's colors do you?”
Wendy snickered, “After wearing Goodwill cast-offs for two years, something new is wonderful, but wearing your old clothes is heaven; they're clean and ironed. I haven't worn anything like that for a long while.” With that she gave me a hug, good thing we were stopped at a red traffic light!
After fifteen minutes, we approached Vinnin Square where the store was. This time of day we had our choice of parking spaces. Wendy hopped out even before I fully stopped the car.
It was obvious how excited she was. I told her first we'll look at tops and skirts. Once we filled our cart, shoes were next. Right away she found a cute skater's skirt in her size. Checking the rack, I found three more in different colors. Wendy was in love with a pale saffron yellow skirt. I suggested the navy also. Two down, twenty to go! She chose six polo shirts in solid colors and two in stripes.
The rack of jeans and shorts was next. We quickly found a couple of really short shorts, and a pair of below knee denims. When she saw the hundreds of pairs of jeans, she shrieked, “I've never seen so many in one place!”
I filed that away as a clue as to how big a town she lived in before.
“Wendy, find a pair you like, then get a size bigger and a size smaller to try on. The ladies sizes are usually not true.”
She picked a pair of fashion jeans and a pair of Wranglers, and headed for the dressing room.
I asked if she needed any help. “Nope, they both fit.” Wendy said.
“Let me see, the Wranglers first honey, then the Liz Vanderbilt.”
She came out wearing the Wranglers, perfect, just the correct inseam. Tight enough for a teenager, loose enough for a parent. The other pair was a little tighter, making Wendy happy.
She grabbed another pair of Wranglers in white, and two more Vandies. I suggested one pair of Vanderbilt's, after all, she'll put on weight now she's living with us. Reluctantly, she agreed.
Now on to shoes! I had her try on a pair of Timberland work boots first. Not only were these in fashion, but if she went to work with us, sneakers would not make it. Next a pair of pink and yellow Nikes.
Wendy's eyes kept drifting towards the heels, finally, I let her pick out her favorites. Naturally, the first pair had 5” heels. I let her try them on a attempt to walk. She fell twice!
Chagrined, she put them back, and looked to me for advice. I handed her a pair of black Mary Janes in a flat heel, and then a sandal in a 1” heel.
We bought a pair of each in black, then a beige sandal, and a red pair of flats.
Before checking out, I steered her towards the undergarments, suggesting a few fancy bra and panty sets.
Wendy and I paid for the wardrobe and loaded the bags into the back seat. We escaped for under $300, not bad.
“Home now, Aunt Ginny?” Wendy asked.
“One more stop, now you need everyday underwear. One pair, one day around here, kiddo. For these, we stop at Walmart. We'll get pantyhose here also, all different colors.
Did you ever see a child that ate too much candy? Wendy was like this, wide-eyed and talking a mile a minute. Good thing I took her shopping, by now Ellen would be going nuts.
We zipped into Wally World and out again in no time.
Ellen actually beat us home, and had the tea kettle hot. She read my mind!
After bringing in the bags, we insisted on a fashion show, (not the underwear of course). While Ellen and I had tea, Wendy kept going from my bedroom to the living room and back.
We moved our old clothes from the spare closet to make room for her new wardrobe. For now, my old clothes would stay in my room. She needed a place to change after all.
We held a vote, Chinese food for supper! No dishes, paper-plates instead.
Ellen and I went to bed at 10pm ,but I think Wendy was wired and fell asleep after midnight.
Wendy surprised us in the morning; by the time Ellen and I entered the kitchen, she had a pot of coffee brewing, and was standing at the stove, pouring pancake batter into a hot skillet.
Ellen took a tentative sip of coffee, expecting the worst. Instead a grin spread across her face. “Ginny, taste this, no need of a Keurig anymore, this is great!”
This was good, because as far as coffee went, Ellen made a great pot of tea!
After eating really fluffy pancakes, and two cups of coffee, the Three Musketeers left for work.
Leaving Wendy reading a story about a boy who helps out a friend by dressing as a girl to make his ex-girlfriend jealous, Ellen motioned me to come outside.
We stood near a mortar mixer, so as not to be overheard.
“After you left yesterday, I had a call from Pete. He wanted to know who the young girl was that showed up here yesterday.”
“So he does have us under surveillance!”
“Just for our protection, don't forget, that dump truck driver disappeared on one of my jobs. He started this whole mess. I wonder what ever happened to him, Ginny?”
“What did you tell him?”
“Just that you found her curled up under the office trailer, and has any one been looking for a 16 yr old runaway girl. That should be far enough from the truth to protect her.”
I smiled, “At least we've bought some time. I wonder how she'll react when Pete shows up in uniform.”
“We're going to find out, here comes Pete! Quick, run inside and block the door so Wendy doesn't take off!”
I ran up the stairs, took Wendy by the hand and said, “Trust me, follow my lead. Remember, you are safe!”
I watched her eyes get big as she caught sight of the Smokey Bear hat and uniform.
“You promised,” she started to wail. I squeezed her hand hard and said to be quiet, as the office door opened.
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