She had first seen it on the train going into work. Reading the classified section, like she always did, with her morning Starbucks and a faint smell of damp clothes teasing her nostrils. It was the lack of information that caught her attention. “For sale. Baby shoes, never worn.” No address, no phone number, no way of making a connection. It felt odd, wrong even. Why would someone take the trouble to place a personal ad in the paper, and then make it impossible to get in touch with them?
It stayed with her for the rest of the day as she went about her routines – answering phone calls, chatting with colleagues about the weekend’s baseball results and possibly going kite surfing in the spring; too subtle break the surface of her thoughts. Like the trace of a memory, the tiniest tear in the tissue.
Only later that evening, lying in bed listening to her husband’s snores, had she remembered her mother’s silence. She had come home from school one day to find her mother in the kitchen. Different. More distant somehow. Nothing was said between them and yet she knew, with all the certainty of a nine year old girl, that something had changed irrevocably.
Years later, about two weeks after her mother’s funeral as they were clearing out the debris of a lifetime spent in the same place. She had found them. A new pair of baby shoes stowed neatly in a box on the top shelf of the bedroom closet.