She is five years old, playing alone on the playground, dark hair and eyes and a bouncy smile. She doesn’t seem to know the word stranger.
She’s talking to me – about Charlotte, how old she is, how cute – when she sees the boy driving the blue toy Corvette down the sidewalk.
“I’ve seen him before,” she says, then skips to the big concrete pad where older kids are riding bikes.
The boy in the blue Corvette just barely slows as he makes the curve and she jumps in and they’re gone, circling the concrete pad too fast. She’s laughing and he has great control of his car.
At a picnic table a man is sitting alone and I think she came with him but he doesn’t pay her any attention. I don’t know if he’s seen her jump into the boy’s car. The boy’s father has seen, tells him to slow down when he circles too close to a toddler, but he’s following another wobbly boy on a bike with a dog tugging on a leash.
The two are circling still when I leave, her dark hair streaming behind her, laughing.
They’re not even in first grade, and the stories of their lives are playing out on the playground on a chilly January afternoon.