In order to pick Ruby up every afternoon, I walk down an alley between blocks to get there. The sun shone, clouds of various sizes floated in the sky-aquarium. Trees bloomed and blossoms drifted on the breeze.
Yesterday, as I was walking to pick Ruby up at her bus stop, I met a little girl. She was twining her arms and her body around a birch tree, newly leafed. Her shoulder-length brown hair was pulled back from her face, revealing a serious face with brown eyes.
She was singing at the top of her lungs.
“Stii-icks! We’re gonna pick up sticks! In a little while, we’re picking up sti-icks…” And on and on. Totally impromptu and keyless, the song was. I had to giggle. Ruby used to do the same thing. She’d make up songs about cleaning up her room or reading the Bible or what ever came to mind. It seemed to cheer her as she warbled along in dulcet tones perched ‘way up on the treble clef.
The girl’s grandmother was outside, too. I heard her say, “We’re going to pick your brother up in a few minutes.” Older brother? Younger brother? I had no idea. The girl was about four years old, I would reckon. She resumed her song about sticks, with even greater enthusiasm.
I went to Ruby’s bus stop, smiling.
As I walked Ruby and her friend Alyssa home back up the alley, we passed the girl. She was all wide-eyed interest in the “big girls”, the first-graders.
I said “Hi.”
“Hi”, she said shyly.
I nudged Ruby.
“Hi”, Ruby said. Alyssa said hi, too. We kept on walking, girls watching girls. I told Ruby and Alyssa about her song. I mentioned that Ruby used to do that, too.
“That’s funny!” Alyssa remarked. Ruby didn’t think it was funny. In fact, it seemed downright babyish now that her friend thought so.
The little girl’s gaze followed us up the road. We were almost to the top of the street when I heard her call out to us.
I turned around.
“Yes?” I replied.
“Did you have a good day today?”
“Yes, I did. And you?”
She said she did, too.
She helped make mine. I grinned all the way home.