I can tell it makes her feel pretty. The purple dress.
The purple dress she has worn unabashedly for ten occasions without a breather–church, school, Easter, school, church…
The purple dress she blow dries her hair for and turns sideways in the mirror for, first this way and then that and then another time this way. I say only once, “run down and show your daddy,” because she does. She slips from the door frame with happy pony tails–one on each side–and bounces down the stairs to find her daddy’s praise.
It isn’t just the dress, though. It’s the shoes. The far-from-sensible sandals that click and clack against the wood floors. The ones whose inch and a half white heels wobble with every step and threaten to throw her to the ground. The ones she pretends are as soft as slippers.
I shrug as we leave. “You’re sure you’re okay? Your feet are gonna make it?” And she nods confidently, though a pair of tennis shoes sits beside her.
As we hustle between stores, she clips and clops to stay close. She loses the dainty steps and strides like a sprinter, focused on the finish line. I tell her we can drive across the parking lot to the next store, and she looks at me with a face that is ten years older. “It’s just right there,” she says. And so we do. We clop and click across the black top, her hand swinging in mine, her smile lighting a path for every step.