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Walking in Her Shoes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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She takes the girl by the hand as she leaps out of the car into the parking lot. The little girl glances down at her mother's new black heels. She admires the way they strike the pavement – click, clack, click, clack – each touches the ground in exactly the same way, keeping a steady rhythm. The girl looks at her shoes: velcro, light-up Sketchers she'd been so proud to put on this morning. They flash vigorously as she shuffles, trying to keep up with her mom's stride. How does she walk like that? One day, she thinks, I will be able to walk like that.

They walk straight to the elevator. The young girl stares into the glass, which reflects her small, baby- tooth smile. Her pin-straight hair rests on her cheeks, and short bangs cover her forehead. Mismatched socks poke from her shoes. Then the girl looks at her mom, who is staring straight ahead. She blinks and her long, dark eyelashes flutter. Someone speeds past them, making a quick breeze that shifts her wavy hair – but it's still tousled perfectly, as always. But then again, her mother is perfect. One day, the girl thinks, I will be that perfect. I will be just like her.

In the elevator, the girl immediately runs to the end closest to the center of the mall. She looks through the glass and watches, amazed how everything flows and moves. Her mom simply stares ahead, checking her watch every now and again. She stares ahead like her mother. Today, she thinks, today will be the day I'm just like my mother.

As soon as the elevator stops, they step out and the little girl follows her mother into a little jewelry store. The little girl walks next to her mother, who scans the shelves of jewelry. She picks up one set of earrings, holds them to her ear, shakes her head and sets them back down. She grabs a second pair and does the same. When she holds up a third pair, she glances over her shoulder and stuffs them into her pocket. She takes the little girl's hand and walks to another aisle. The girl looks up and grabs a ring from a hook. She giggles, looks around, and puts it in her pocket. “We're leaving. Let's go,” the mother says, and walks out. The little girl follows her out, and the alarm goes off.

“Excuse me, ma'am, may I check your purse?”

She hesitates. “Uh, yeah, sure. Yes.”

As the security guard goes through her mother's purse, the little girl pulls the ring from her pocket and admires it in the bright light.

“What does she have?” the guard asks.

“I'm not sure,” her mother replies. “What do you have, sweetie? Can Mom see?”

The girl opens her hand, revealing a silver band with the security tag still attached.

“Oh my, that's not yours! What do you think you are doing? You can't just take things without paying. That is not allowed,” she scolds her. “I am so sorry, I don't know what motivated her.” She hands the ring to the guard. “I will certainly have a talk with her, I'm so sorry.”

The girl looks at the two of them, confused. He nods, and the mother and daughter leave the store and walk to the elevator.

She lectures the little girl, “You can't do that. Only Mom can.”

The little girl pouts, looking at her reflection again. I don't want to be like Mom, she thinks as she admires her long, straight hair and mismatched socks, her velcro Sketchers and little white teeth. I'm already perfect, she thinks to herself.

They step into the elevator, and she runs straight for the wall closest to the center of the mall to watch everyone, not matching her mother, not turning around.

They proceed to the parking lot. The mom keeps a steady pace, walking quickly, but the little girl lags behind, dragging her feet so you can hear every ­little stone scraping and grinding into the pavement. She counts every crack she has to step over. I'll take my own steps. I'll be my own person, she thinks to herself.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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