Sonic the Hedgehog
The Christmas Shoes
By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: Okay, of course Nack the Weasel is copyright Sega. I think Nic is, too. Some of the dialogue in this story (and the general idea behind the whole thing) is from The Christmas Shoes, a song copyrighted ?? All I know is that it's not me! LOL! Anyway, hope you like this lil thing!

I didn't know why I was in the store. It had been a long, frustrating day and I was feeling depressed. The last thing I needed was to be in a crowded store with millions of people swarming around who'd be pushing and shoving rudely to get the last-minute Christmas gifts they wanted, totally devoid of any kind of Christmas spirit.

And push and shove they did. I got thrown to the floor several times, and once across one of those lighted reindeer things. The person who did that didn't offer to assist me and wound up also knocking over a Christmas tree on display and a dancing Santa, which in turn, knocked over the next thing, and on and on like that, creating a real domino effect.

I struggled to get up. "Of all the . . ." I never finished my sentence as a whole horde of frantic shopper tore past, sending me flying again.

I barely missed knocking over a whole set of mannequins (which, for some strange reason, were all sticking their tongues out). My hat wound up plopped on one of them, though. I grabbed it before anyone would decide it was merchandise. "I've had enough of these crazed critters!" I exclaimed. For some reason, though, I couldn't bring myself to leave. Something was keeping me from going out the door.

So I wandered aimlessly through the store, trying to avoid being tripped, trampled, or toppled.

As I passed by a check-out counter, I suddenly heard a young voice, one that sounded almost out of place amidst the crazy commotion of adults acting like children. I might've just gone on, but what he said made me stop in my tracks.

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama please," he said imploringly. He held up a pair of sparkling white shoes. I shook my head in disbelief. I'd seen those shoes in store windows over the past few weeks, and let me tell you, they cost a pretty penny, a lot more than this little guy would have with him.

He was a human kid, with red hair and matching freckles. His clothes were patched in places and torn in others. One of his shoes had a hole in it, and the other was slowly tearing in half. He reached into his pocket and pulled out all the money he had with him—probably all the money he owned, I decided—pennies, pennies, and more pennies, and dumped them on the counter. While the blase-looking cashier began counting them up, the kid continued.

"It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size." He looked worriedly at the cashier. "Could you hurry, sir? Daddy says there's not much time." He sniffed. "You see, Mom's been sick for quite a while." He set the shoes on the counter and ran his hand over them. "I know these shoes would make her smile." As he looked up at the cashier again, I must admit, he looked almost angelic. "And . . . and . . . I want her to look beautiful if she's gonna meet Jesus tonight."

The cashier paused, and lowered his eyes as he continued to count up the kid's pennies.

I watched all this from nearby. The kid couldn't have been older than seven or eight. I had lost my own mother when I was eight. She had always been my dearest friend, and often it seemed she was the only one who really cared about me. I could understand exactly where this kid was coming from.

The cashier finally finished counting the pennies. He shook his head, looking as though he were dreading to say the words. But he said them anyway, as gently as he could. "Son, there's not enough here."

The kid frantically dug into his pockets, searching for money he might have missed. He pulled a lone penny out of his pocket, which he accidentally dropped on the floor. It rolled toward me and I picked it up, handing it to the kid as he rushed over to retrieve it.

"Mama always made Christmas good at our house," he said softly to me. "But most years, she never got anything herself." His eyes teared up. "This might be her last Christmas with us. Please, mister, tell me, what am I gonna do? Somehow, I've just gotta buy her these shoes!"

I paused, but not for long. He looked so forlorn there, clutching the penny in one hand and the shoes in the other. I thought again of my own mother. "Don't worry, kid. You'll get those shoes," I assured him.

I walked back to the counter with him. "How much?" I asked the cashier, who was looking at me with a mixture of disbelief and something else that I couldn't place.

"Thirty-five dollars," he said, then looked at me again, apparently expecting me to back out.

I didn't have all that much money since I hadn't been hired to catch anyone since before Thanksgiving, but I handed him the money.

The kid's face brightened up. "Thank you, mister, oh thank you! Mama's gonna look so great!" he said, taking the bag with the precious shoes off the counter. "Merry Christmas, and God bless!"

I watched him go out the door, then tipped my hat to the cashier and wandered off again.
Outside in the falling snow, I thought about the kid again. I knew now why I'd felt like I couldn't leave the store. I wondered if Mama had perhaps sent him to me, to remind me what Christmas was all about. As I thought about it, it made more and more sense.

I actually hadn't done much about Christmas for a long time, but now I wondered what Nic was up to and decided to call her.

As I searched and found a phone booth, I thought again about the kid's words to the cashier:

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir? Daddy said there's not much time
You see, Mom's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if she's gonna meet Jesus tonight."