The news had upset her terribly; after replacing the telephone receiver, she felt an irrational need to escape her cramped apartment. Andrea fled, finding solace in the community park nearby. She sat on a bench – half in sun, half in shade – facing the fountain. She looked. She listened. She watched people go by.
After about fifteen minutes, just as she had decided to return home to deal with the things that had to be done in the wake of her bad news, three children and their father drifted into view. They sat on the stone wall of the fountain, the girl separating her father from his sons. But it was only the little girl who caught Andrea’s attention.
Dressed in a bright pink dress with crisp white polka dots, she dutifully ignored the boys roughhousing beside her; respectfully declined to respond to her father’s chatter. Instead, Andrea noted, the little princess in the bright pink dress concentrated on daintily eating her vanilla ice cream cone with the singular focus a man on death row would give his last meal. The little family tableau brought longingly to mind Andrea’s own childhood, when eating ice cream on a summer’s day was indeed a serious business.
Serious Business – Fragment #24