Echo lay sprawled on her bed, stomach down, feet in the air. Her tiny fists were tucked up under her chin.
Echo’s mom pushed the bedroom door open with a wicker basket full of toys. “I’ve told you a thousand times to keep your toys picked up.”
The little girl drooled over the thick catalog that rested on her bed.
“Echo, are you listening to me?” Carol raised her voice a decibel. She lifted the basket above the bed and spilled the contents all over the self-absorbed girl.
Echo’s red curls bobbed as she turned her head. “Mommy, why did you do that?” She pushed the former year’s Christmas presents off her bed. They clattered and clanked as they fell on the toys already on the floor.
“You need to clean your room.” Carol was becoming increasingly agitated.
Echo was drawn back to her day dreaming. “Have you seen the new Christmas wish catalog? There’s lots of cool stuff.”
Carol shook her head, clearly exasperated and befuddled as to how she could have raised such a spoiled child. “It’s time for you to clean your room.” Carol bent down and picked up a doll that lay straddled across a mound of toys. She put it up on the shelf that was specially made to keep Echo’s room organized. She cleared her throat.
Echo turned to look at her again, “Yes, Mommy?” Her eyes sparkled mischievously.
Carol trembled when she realized how badly spoiled her one and only daughter was. “Let’s clean your room together. It won’t take long.”
Echo, already bored with the conversation, turned her head back to her catalog. “Mommy, I circled the things I just HAVE to have in red crayon and the things that Grammy can give me are in green.”
Carol finally had enough. “Echo, I’m talking to you.” She took the crayons away.
Echo screamed in protest. “Mommy… I need those. You’re going to mix me all up.”
Fueled by Echo’s bad attitude, Carol swooped down and swiped the catalog right up from her daughter’s nose.
Echo let off an ear-piercing scream. Her dad raced up the steps to see what was going on.
Carol stopped him before he scooped Echo into his arms. “Ignore her, Mark. She’s absorbed in that wish catalog and not doing anything I’m telling her to do. ”
Mark backed out of the room while saying, “Do what your mommy says, Sweetcakes. Remember, Santa’s coming soon.”
Carol followed Mark out and closed the door. “That’s real good. Have you seen all those toys in her room?”
Mark said, “Sorry. Maybe she needs to be taught a lesson.”
“What a great idea.” Carol kissed him on the cheek.
The next day after school, Echo ran from her room screaming, “My toys are gone.”
Her mother was calm. “I told you to clean your room.”
“I was gonna..”
“Now you don’t have to worry about it.”
“I am worried about it. I need my toys.”
“Obviously you didn’t care for them.”
Echo threw herself to the floor. She kicked her feet and held her breath.
When Mark got home, Carol met him at the door with a tear-stained faced daughter. He said, “We’re all going for a ride, Honey.”
She climbed in beside bags of her toys and pressed her nose to the window. Soon they parked beside a building.
“What is this place?” she asked.
“A homeless shelter. Kids live here with their parents when they have no place to go,” her dad explained.
A little boy met them at the door. “Wanna come see my room?” he asked her.
Carol told her she could go.
Joey grabbed her hand and proudly showed her his ‘room’, which was a top bunk separated by curtains. One stuffed animal sat on his pillow. “You moving here, too?”
“Ummm…no.” She looked around. “Don’t you have any other toys?”
He put his head down. “Used to. Before Daddy lost his job.”
Echo’s stomach churned then she remembered what was in her car. “You have more friends here?”
“Go get them. I’ll be right back”. Echo helped her parents lug in the bags.
Joey was followed by ten little kids. They tentatively walked up to Echo, drawn by the pull of toys. Wish catalog forgotten, Echo helped each child find just the right present.
As they left the shelter, Echo tugged on her mom’s shirt. “No more wish books for me. Can we come here every year?”
Carol hugged her daughter tight. “Absolutely.”
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