Tracy didn’t feel guilty. You do what you have to, to survive and she was ensuring not only she survived, but also her daughter. So no, she didn’t feel guilty.
She hurried along the sidewalk towards the building of doctors’ offices, her large blue canvas bag bumping against her leg as they walked. Her daughter, Madison, straggled along behind her as Tracy pulled her forward by the hand.. As they passed the entrance to the parking lot, Tracy craned her had back looking a blue Honda in the distance. They continued to walk quickly down the street until Tracy stopped abruptly.
She guided Madison to the lawn to the side of the sidewalk and pointed to the grass at their feet. Madison stood staring at her toes as her mom talked, her head only coming up to her mom’s waist. Her large, round tummy stuck out in front of her, pushed further out by her slouched, curving her back. She nodded her head as Tracy, hesitantly at first, walked back towards the parking lot entrance. She glanced behind her a few times, reassured that Madison was still standing on the grass staring at her shoes.
As Tracy turned into the parking lot and out of sight of her daughter, she broke into a jog towards a blue Honda with the open windows. She glanced around, then reached in, unlocked the door from the inside, and pulled it open. She disappeared into the car for a few moments and when she came back into view her bag was slightly bulkier than before. She glanced around the parking lot again, then walked slowly back to her daughter who had become distracted by a fluttering white moth and was wandering in circles about the grass as she followed it.
Tracy quickly snatched Madison’s hand and pulled her forward across the street towards the mall on the other side. She walked quickly, half dragging the young girl behind her, who still appeared to be fascinated with the moth and had her head craned back around trying desperately to see behind her, her sneakered feet stumbling and scrapping the pavement as she walked.
They cut through the shrubs that bordered the mall parking lot. Tracy scouting the cars as they walked until she veered sharply to the left, her sights set on a rusty, white pick-up truck. She left Madison standing by the driver’s side door and disappeared around to the other side. Madison stared at the door and ran her finger over a rust spot halfway down the door. She drew the outline with her finger feeling the rough, chipping texture.
Moments later Tracy was back, and once again her bag bulged larger than before. She took a wild look around, before taking Madison’s arm and pulling her away. They weaved their way through the parking lot, stopping at this car, then that one. Finally, they slipped onto a bus and were gone.
By the end of the day she hadn’t quite got enough to pay for Madison’s medication, but it was close. Another day like today, and they would be golden for October. The key was to never hit the same place twice.