Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pay It Forward

Sara's near the front of the line at The Bent Cover when she spies, among the nearby stacks, a little girl who is the spitting image of herself at seven years old, from the plaited hair and jelly shoes right down to the Big Beautiful Book of Cats clutched in her hands and the way she looks at her dad and says "Please, daddy, can I have it?" 

Daddy is no more than 20, smooth skinned and weary eyed, wearing jeans that have shiny spots from too many washes, an old paint-stained t-shirt, and browsing a high school equivalency study guide. He tilts the book in her hands, grimaces at the bright orange price sticker exploding off the front cover. Sara hears him murmur that old familiar refrain about "only coming in here for one thing." 

But if that little girl is as much like Sarah as she looks.... And there she goes. There are no tears, just that wide eyed look of longing that only little girls under 10 seem to be able to pull off. 

Sara watches and tries not to seem like she's watching. After the space of two heartbeats, Daddy takes the book and gets into line, just as the cashier calls "Next" and Sara pulls out her credit card. 

When Daddy and daughter reach the checkout, they will find their books paid for and a year's membership to The Bent Cover's children's book club waiting for them. 

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