She almost hung up. His dull "Hello" sounded so hollow, so distant.
"I'm calling about the shoes. The baby shoes. In the bargain paper," she stammered.
Silence. Uselessly, she added, "The unworn ones."
"Yes," he said finally, drawing the short word to unnatural length.
"Well, it's only, you see, that I don't really need them," she blurted.
"I don't either," came the weary reply. The man's voice caught. It turned into a series of low sobs. The line was disconnected.
She was filled with an odd sorrow: a surging wave of compassion for people and events she didn't know. She squeezed her eyes tightly to dam a sudden hot tear in her left eye.
It didn't necessarily mean disaster and pain, she told herself. He could be just another weirdo with a wacky gimmick. He could be a dead-beat dad with drunken pangs of conscience.
She looked at the phone and told herself to leave it be. She rose and went towards the untidy kitchen to fix tea.
She almost tripped over the skateboard she had flung carelessly away those many days ago.