Little plastic barrettes pinned her sandy brown ringlets back from her face. Molded bows, one violet and one pink, clipped just above her ears, was enough to keep the hair from falling. She carried a small collection of coloring books and box of crayons out the front door and laid them gently on the concrete. It was morning and the soft smoky grey walkway was still cool. She could smell the moisture in the soil of the flowerbed edged along the walk from the front door landing to the driveway. The pinkness of her cheeks was radiant in the morning sun. She smiled to herself as knelt innocently, arranging her collection of books in front of her.
She opened one of the books and turned each page, carefully examining each image. The thick black line work of each image begged to her for color and life. She turned the page, stopped, and stared at a colorless happy sun. Beneath the sun was the outline of a bird standing on a tree branch with its head cocked upward. Music notes dance from the bird’s beak. This, she thought, would be fun to color.
Her little fingers pried open the box of crayons, spilling them on the concrete. She hadn’t noticed the white crayon rolling away, coming to rest in the expansion joint. Its greyish white paper camouflaged the crayon in the shallow groove. She picked up the blue crayon and began to trace inside of the little bird. She sang softly to herself as she worked. Her hushed tune was barely a whisper, only heard by the little bird and the smiling sun. She was only four but had an artful eye for detail. Steady and slow she traced each image in the color of her choosing. Then, meticulously, she would fill the space with smooth, even color. She was careful not to allow the crayon to pass over the thick black outlines.
Everything about that morning was perfect. But that morning was a long time ago. That morning in the sun light, coloring and singing to herself, was the last best memory she had of her childhood. She sat at the foot of the bed with her feet dangling. She traced little invisible circles with her toe. It’s funny, she thought, the way memory works, like ripples returning over still water.