Anna Lee Walters
Wanda looked at the distorted reflections of herself and her mother as they passed in front of the store window wishing for a Maytag washing machine and a vacuum cleaner with at least six attachments, though their house had no throw rugs, let alone a thick carpet like the one shown in the store window. Wanda was shorter than her momma, and her mother was short alongside of the other promenading figures moving past the store window. There were other differences, too. Wanda’s momma wore a black-and-white checkered housedress and long braids held together by a red rubber band. Wanda was a younger version of her mother in a cotton print dress and faded light blue tennis shoes. Wanda’s momma wore moccasins over her fleshcolored stockings. The other figures, apparitions in the tinted store glass window, looked Wanda and her momma up and down as they passed the mother and daughter. The men wore summer suits and white shoes, while the women wore high-heeled shoes. Their coiffures were nestlike: a strand of hair never strayed out of place, even in the summer breeze.
Wanda turned away from the glass window to a woman standing beside her looking at something inside the display. Wanda looked her up and down. The woman wore spiked heels and a pink knitted dress. The red-brown nest was in place upon her head. Her lips were red, and her eyes were purple just above the lids. She carried a large handbag which she then raised to open. Wanda realized the woman was looking at herself in the window. The woman pulled out a chrome-colored tube and applied some more red to her mouth. Then the woman turned to Wanda and gazed at her for a few seconds. “Hi honey,” the woman said. Wanda didn’t answer. She just stared at the nest that was the woman’s hair. The woman frowned and looked to Wanda’s momma, who was counting change in a small beaded coin purse. The woman dug into her boxlike handbag again and stared tentatively at Wanda. Impulsively, she grabbed one of Wanda’s hands and pressed a fifty-cent piece into it. Then she held her red lips tightly together in a straight horizontal line and marched off, her spiked heels clicking on the hot cement.