Maggie wandered listlessly from room to room. Mr. Smooshy gathered cat hair and dust bunnies in his fur as she dragged him along behind her.
Denise peered through the window across the alley and saw the neglected toddler roaming around the empty apartment again. She had on the same grungy footie pajamas as yesterday only today she was holding a sippy cup in one hand and dragging a stuffed toy around behind her with the other. She looked awful. Her skin was blotchy and dull and her hair stood out around her head like a dandelion seed pressed into service as a depository for bits of lint and what looked like leaves. Denise wished again that she had binoculars. She'd love to be able to look closer at the notes and things stuck all over the refrigerator. There was bound to be a phone number for a relative or a babysitter on the refrigerator. Who leaves a child alone like that without a babysitter?
"There she is again all by herself in the apartment. I'm going to call the police or child services and this time you're not talking me out of it Fred." Denise looked over at Fred on his perch. His beady parrot eyes gleamed back at her. "Where's my purse? Where's my purse?" he squawked.
"I know that I'm too soft hearted. But this isn't like the hurt pigeon that the cops wouldn't come to rescue from the window ledge, this is a child. A child who needs assistance."
Denise picked up the phone to dial 911 but then she remembered the dispatcher telling her in a rather sharp voice that she should only call if it was a life threatening emergency. She put the phone back in the cradle and wondered how she'd know. She had thought that the pigeon's life was threatened and therefore it was a life threatening emergency, but the dispatcher hadn't seen it that way.
Denise made up her mind. She removed her indoor sweater, hung it neatly on a padded hanger in the closet and took her outdoor sweater off the hook by the door. She inserted her spindly arms and counted all eight buttons neatly shut. She stood a moment running her arms over the soft familiar fabric while taking deep calming breaths to steady her nerves. When she was ready, or as ready as she'd ever be, she undid the bolts, opened the door and stepped out into the world.
Maggie was so very hungry. She could feel the lady across the alley staring. She willed her to come. She took a sip from the sippy cup and made herself look even smaller and more pitiful. She looked down at Mr. Smooshy. Nothing could make Mr. Smooshy look more pitiful. After all, what's more pitiful than a dead cat? He hadn't suffered. None of them ever suffered. Maggie made sure of that. She hoped the lady made up her mind soon because she was so very hungry. She was so very hungry and it had been days since she'd fed.
The link to this week's 60 #fridayflash stories at Mad Utopia
The Choice of a Lifetime also appears HERE at WEIRDYEAR a very cool online magazine published by the very cool E.S. Wynn.