Saturday, December 05, 2015

All Three

A girl who can't be more than twelve years old is telling her mom about Donald Trump, the church of Scientology, and how dimming a cellphone's screen saves the battery. Her younger brother sits across from her, nodding and interjecting his agreement. The kids nibble cheesy croissants and sip iced drinks with whipped cream piled high inside the domed plastic lids. It seems like a special occasion. The girl is lanky and freckled and tucks loose strands of hair behind her ear. She tells her mom things her dad says (about Donald Trump), and things her uncle says (about the church of Scientology), and how her best friend is getting her ears pierced and she wants to too but wonders how much it will hurt. The boy pulls apart his cheesy croissant and contently swings his oversized feet beneath his seat. "I don't like it," he says suspiciously, "It's going to hurt."

The mom listens and nods and looks from child to child. She reaches out and touches the boy's perfectly pink cheek, and he leans in like a puppy dog, lapping up her love. He can't sit still, swiveling from croissant to whipped cream drink, and I imagine all the sugar being absorbed by his little body. "It's just craaaaazy," the girl says emphatically, having moved on to a new topic, pushing her hair out of her eyes again. "So craaaaazy," the boy agrees. All three laugh, throwing their heads back, heads with versions of the same dark chocolatey hair, the same texture and weight. 

A stranger walks by and greets the boy, tousling his hair. The boy receives this gesture with disinterested familiarity and the girl tosses him a haphazard 'hey,' the kind kids give most adults who are taller than them. I listen as the stranger introduces himself to their mother and I'm surprised to learn she's actually their aunt. School is out all week for the Thanksgiving holiday and family has come to town. All three seem bored with the stranger's chatter, although they are kid-polite and adult-friendly. I peek around to get a look at the aunt's face and wonder what the mother looks like. 

As soon as the stranger leaves, the girl leans in toward her aunt and brother and says something secret about the stranger. The boy agrees and drapes his arm around the aunt's shoulder. All three giggle, their heads nearly touching, and conspiratorially continue their conversation. They whisper. Heads bobbing, feet swinging.

I picture myself, less than a decade from now, with Hopper and Marty perched on high coffee shop stools like these, with no need for help getting on or off. I wonder what their pre-teen voices will sound like, I wonder if they will even eat cheesy croissants or be fervent vegans because one of their best friends is vegan. I wonder if they will be the same height, or if one will have outgrown the other. 

The girl starts gathering her garbage and the boy and aunt follow her lead. They chatter on as they slide off their seats, almost bundled together, as they scurry out the front door. I watch them leave and wonder if, a decade from now, Hopper will want me to know her secrets, and if Marty will still let me touch his cheek.