Temporary Friend

My daughter stands uncertainly on the edge of the playground, a rock of dubious strength against a sea of screaming and running children. She looks mostly to the ground but steals upward glances. Occasionally, as another girl her age runs nearby, a glimmer of anticipation and hope flashes across her face and the hint of a smile begins to form, only to be wiped clean a moment later as the other child passes without notice. Or even worse, stops for a momentary sharp penetrating glare and quick retreat that only a three-year old without the uncertainties of maturity can perform.

We have been here nearly five minutes and my daughter’s jeans, hands, and face are still spotless.

Go on! I urge her with a wave from the park bench.

She shakes her head, the bangs of her hair waving in front of her face like windshield wipers. Her bottom lip is starting to quiver. A short time ago all she wanted in the world was to be here. Now, she would do anything to be anywhere else.

Do you want to swing? asks another girl.

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