Authors: Deborah Ellis
Tags: #Readers for New Literates, #Language Arts & Disciplines, #Readers
In From the Cold
Grass Roots Press
Copyright © 2010 Deborah Ellis
First published in 2010 by Grass Roots Press
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
The Good Reads series is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
Grass Roots Press also gratefully acknowledges the financial support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Grass Roots Press would also like to thank ABC Life Literacy Canada for their support. Good Reads® is used under licence from ABC Life Literacy Canada.
(Good reads series)
Print ISBN: 978-1-926583-25-9
ePub ISBN: 978-1-926583-64-8
Distributed to libraries and
educational and community
Grass Roots Press
Distributed to retail outlets by
HarperCollins Canada Ltd.
To those who love to learn
Mother and daughter hid in the shadows.
“There’s no one else here.”
Rose kept a grip on her daughter’s arm. Hazel was ten years old, and she was more interested in adventure than in safety. “What do we do?”
“Always take one more look,” Hazel said.
The two of them peered around the corner and toward the back of the shopping centre parking lot. A streetlight shone down on the giant blue Dumpsters. Hazel was right. No one else was around.
Rose looked up at the high-rise apartment buildings in the area. Someone standing on a balcony or watching from a window could look down and see them. She tugged on the front
brim of her daughter’s baseball cap, lowered her own, then led the way.
They both wore dark jeans and jackets and carried large cloth bags over their shoulders. In her hand, Rose held an extra bag that could expand, in case the haul was especially good.
By now, they were good at climbing. Rose was up the side of the first Dumpster and had the lid back in a flash, without making any noise.
They spoke in whispers, sorting through one Dumpster together before going on to the next. Hazel often wanted to split up, but Rose was too afraid of what she might find. People threw things in Dumpsters that they hoped would never be seen again.
“I see bread,” Hazel said.
“White, I think.”
“Take it for now.” They’d throw it away later if they found something healthier. Rose put apples and oranges into her bag, along with a battered box of Fruit Roll-Ups and some kind of cereal.
The next Dumpster gave them a carton with half a dozen eggs — only one was broken — and some cottage cheese that had only just expired.
“Look!” Hazel held up a large Toblerone chocolate bar. It looked to be in perfect shape, except for the torn wrapper. Hazel added it to her bag.
“Shh! Someone’s coming!”
The two of them stopped sorting. They could hear voices coming nearer.
“Hide or run?” Hazel whispered.
Rose could not decide. She and Hazel always found a lot of free food in these Dumpsters, but the neighbourhood was full of people with nothing to do. Bored people could be dangerous.
She hesitated too long. The voices were now right outside their Dumpster.
“Take the first one,” a young man’s voice said. “I’ll look in here.”
And then a face appeared over the side of the Dumpster, the face of a young man with messy hair. He didn’t have a chance to blink before Rose and Hazel let out loud, crazy yells. Hazel threw something at the man’s face. He screamed, clutched at his eyes, and fell to the pavement.
Rose grabbed her daughter. In the next moment they were out of the Dumpster, running madly and disappearing back into the shadows.
“What did you throw?” Rose asked as they ran.
“Orange juice,” Hazel said.
Once they knew they were not being chased, they relaxed enough to laugh, briefly, before continuing with their treasure hunt.
“Oh, good. Carmen is working.”
Donut Heaven was their last stop for the night. They only went inside when they saw that Carmen was behind the counter.
Hazel opened the door. Carmen greeted Rose and her daughter with a big smile and a friendly “
The donut shop was nearly empty. A man sat with his head on his arms at a table in the back corner. A college student leaned over her laptop computer. Neither looked up at Rose and Hazel.
“I have a present for you, Carmen,” Hazel said. She plopped her full shoulder bag down on the counter and opened the zipper of the small
pocket on the side. She took out a bracelet with red stones that she’d found in a bag outside the Salvation Army.
“Oh, that’s beautiful,” said Carmen. She put it on her wrist. “
,” said Hazel. “Teach me a new word.”
“Say please,” said Rose.
Carmen taught Hazel a new Spanish word every time they saw each other. Rose left them to the lesson and went to the small stack of newspapers on top of the garbage bin. She quickly checked through them. After all this time, she didn’t expect to see anything, but she felt better after she looked.
“Coffee or hot chocolate?” Carmen asked Rose.
Rose preferred coffee, but she wanted to be able to sleep later. “Chocolate. Thanks.” She joined her daughter at the counter. She curled her cold fingers around the warm cup.
Carmen put a bag of day-olds beside Rose.
“Muffins and donuts tonight,” Carmen told her.
“You are a life saver.”
“It’s getting colder out,” said Carmen.
“We’re fine,” Rose said.
Carmen left them to take care of a new customer. They finished drinking their hot chocolate, and then Rose got the key to the women’s washroom.
“It’s too cold to wash my hair tonight,” Hazel said.
Rose almost gave in to her, but she didn’t know when their next chance to get clean would be. “We’re both washing our hair,” she said.
They both had short hair, although Rose would need a cut soon. It had been ages since she had been to the hairdresser’s.
Hazel fussed, but she bent her head over the small bathroom sink. Rose ran water over Hazel’s hair and added hand soap from the soap dispenser. She worked it into a lather, rinsed, then tried to get most of the water out with paper towels.
She washed her own hair, then the two of them did their best to wash the rest of themselves with soapy paper towels.
“My boss is cutting back my hours,” Carmen said, as Rose and Hazel stopped by the counter
to say goodbye. “He’s talking about putting me on the day shift.”
Rose was not happy to hear that. No Carmen meant no more free hot chocolate and donuts. Even worse, it meant no safe place to wash, and no regular way of checking the newspapers.
“I hope that doesn’t happen,” Rose said.
“Me, too,” said Carmen. “I can’t pay my bills if I work less hours. I’ll have to find another job.”
Rose and Hazel said goodbye. They left the comfort of the warm donut shop and headed back out into the chilly, dark night.