Margie lived in one of the original houses on the street at the west end of town. She remembered when she could look out her window and see nothing but her neighbor’s fields. Gradually the town seemed to creep closer and closer around her until all she saw now was a row of apartment houses, and a few store fronts one block away. She missed the fragrant scents and the changing colors from the fields, going from green to yellow to brown, and finally to white after the first dusting of snow on the ground. Now there was brick and concrete, with a narrow strip of grass and spindly trees dotting the length of the road.
Margie spent a lot of time at the window. Her two children were grown and gone, both having moved to distant states. She rarely saw them or even heard from them. When Margie discovered that she had yet to occupy many more years on the planet she took up hobbies to keep herself busy. She always loved to sew, so quilting became an easy obsession for her. She would sit in her favorite chair, her cat Oliver curled up underneath her elbow purring contentedly, and stitch for most of the day, or at least until her crooked fingers could do no more.
The little mother across the street (for that’s how she thought of her) intrigued Margie. She never saw anyone else going into the apartment, no visitors, no mothers, no boyfriends. And she noticed the young woman’s reaction when they approached someone on the street. She would wrap her arm protectively around the little one and duck her head, as though she was afraid of anyone talking to her.
“She is running from something,” Margie thought to herself. Seeing as how young the girl appeared to be and with a small child in tow, Margie could only guess as to what hardships she had had to escape from. Her heart went out to her.
Margie watched the young woman as she took her daughter to a neighboring apartment every day before heading up the street. One day instead of returning back to her sewing after seeing the girl leave, she continued to watch as she walked up the street. The girl suddenly stopped in front of a store window and stood there for a long time. Margie was curious about what caught the girl’s attention so dramatically but then soon forgot.
She forgot, that is, until the next day when the same thing happened. The girl stopped and looked in the front window, this time actually reaching out with her hand to touch the glass. Margie was not naturally a busy-body, but this was enough of a curiosity to spark a desire for action.
Oliver gave a disgruntled meow as he was unceremoniously dumped off the comfortable recliner while Margie strained to push herself out of the chair.
“Hush Ollie, Mamma’s going for a little walk,” Margie said appeasingly to the cat. She got on her long coat and wrapped her favorite scarf around her throat. It was starting to get cold out and Margie was always cold anyway.
The leaves were starting to fall as Margie made her way up the street. They looked like little bits of colored paper floating around the street, too few of them to make any significant piles. The old woman remembered the piles of leaves that her husband Harold used to rake up every autumn from the huge maple tree in their front yard. He would have to clean the yard continually for several weeks, since the leaves would never all drop at once and there were also neighboring trees contributing to his own accumulation. Harold used to grumble about it, but Margie knew he loved any excuse to be outdoors. He kept their yard in immaculate shape.
But Harold was gone now and so was the maple tree. Everything was different.
The store front was only one block from Margie’s house. As she approached the window she knew immediately what the young woman had been looking at. There in the front window was a beautiful doll. Its features were sweet and pretty, with shiny dark curls and warm brown eyes. Margie knew why the little mother had stood so transfixed at the store front.
It was the exact image of the child.