They are going to be frogs
It was sort of like having a little tornado whirl in the door, and I greeted her smiling. I'd seen her the day before for the first time since November, when she and her mother left for the southern end of the state, and I was glad to see her looking well and happy, though tired from the 18 hour drive. Her mother, Angel, said they were just up for a few days to visit friends, but maybe they'd be coming back, and anyway little Jessica wanted to see me, and Champ, and the cats.
"Look, look!" she cried, my little friend, thrusting her plastic bottle into my hands. "They are going to be frogs. I found them!"
Yep. Six little pollywogs were floating about. I took the cap off the bottle to give them a bit of air, though I couldn't recall if they needed extra air at this stage in life. It did seem to make them a bit more lively.
So we caught up on life a bit. Her little dog had been given away, which made her sad. Her kitten, the lovely Princess who wore doll dresses, had run away down in San Diego. This made her sad too, though I told her that perhaps the cat had run into someone who would love it, and care for it. "Not as much as I loved her" said Jessica, and sighed. "But mom says having pets costs too much".
She cheered up and asked if she could help me with Champ's footwrap. Due to my pitbull's nerve damage he gets to wear a stylish sock, wrapped in the flexible wrap racehorses wear on their delicate and strong legs. Jessica wanted to use two colors to make it pretty, so we wrapped in red with an overlay of midnight blue. Very stylish indeed.
And then she invented a cat toy to amuse Pippin the laundromat rescue cat, a big Maine Coon cat, who has been sad this week since his cat friends have left the shop, going to live with my daughter in her new, cat friendly home.
"I want to make animals well" said Jessica. I told her my niece does that, that she's an animal doc. "Oh, can she teach me?" said Jessica, her face alight with possibilities, and I had to tell her that alas, Jen lives far away. But I told her, and hoped it was true, that she will get her dreams.
I'd thought a lot about Jessica and her mother during the winter, hoping they were well, hoping they had shelter and food, that Jessica was warm and maybe happy.
Yesterday she danced out the door with her tadpoles before I could hand her a book or two, and I regret that, because for all I know she and her mom may be on the road again already. The customer who was browsing during the latest visit asked me about the little girl, and I told her a bit of the story. Oh, you are so nice, said the nice woman, a teacher visiting during her spring break. She teaches special education students down in the city, and told me she'd seen it all. The children who live in cars, the children who don't get enough food, the struggling mothers, the moments of pain and violence. I said "well, think of all the difference you have been making with your children, over the years. That counts for a lot".
I looked out to see Angel and Jessica and a couple of guys pulling out in their new car. The little girl had her face pressed against the glass. She was waving, holding up the bottle of tadpoles.
I smiled and waved back. They will grow up to be frogs. May she grow up to be what she wishes. May the world not break her heart.