I heard the girls’ chirping laughs from across the atrium. They sounded like happy birds, echolocating in the grand space, and when I saw them, I could tell it was “Princess Day.”
They bounced along on their bendy, four-year old legs, dressed in pink and lilac and yellow and green. They wore leotards and leggings and big romantic tutus. On their heads were tiaras, pinned in their ponytailed hair, and on their feet were sneakers, their only concession to practicality.
They squealed and giggled, as only little girls do. Their guardian/pack-mule Dad followed along, dutifully observant, consciously laissez-faire. They buzzed around him like a time-lapse movie, his measured steps surrounded by streaks of pastel hues and tulle.
When they saw the fountain, their cries hit that dog-whistle range at 100dB, making every adult wince and smile at the same time. The fountain was surrounded by a shallow pool with pennies decorating its watered tiles.
One of the girls thumped purposefully down onto her butt and, with her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth and a look of decision on her face, she grabbed one of her shoes in both hands and began to tug. Her friend did likewise.
Dad, divining their intent, started juggling coats and bags so he could move in to stop the inevitable.
I turned and continued on my way, not wanting to know if they made it or not, not wanting to lose that mental picture of pure determination to have fun.