A mother finds herself in possession of extra money and contemplates how to spend it. There's enough to buy fabric to make new clothes for her children and she imagines how lovely her family would look because of her hard work and selflessness. But then, while sitting at a department store counter to make her purchase, she notices a display of silk stockings of different colors and feels.
Soon, she has purchased the stockings and then a pair of shoes and she feels great, a little bit free. She hides in the changing room and puts the stockings on, depositing her cotton ones in her shopping bag. She's a new woman. Then she has gloves fitted for her hands and she takes lunch in a quiet cafe where the women are alive and interesting and there's music in the background instead of children's calls and she feels invigorated. She ends her day at the movies where she cries and eats chocolates and becomes a woman that perhaps she has put aside or has not been able to become. Either way, when the story concludes, she is waiting for the cable car and wishing it would never have to stop, that it would carry her far away, on and on into a future that she knows she'll likely never have.
This story is a moving look at the contradictions that exist for moms and no one does it better than Kate Chopin.