I saw her as I sat at a very long stoplight on Main Street. There are lots of trains running through our little town and it is not unusual to wait through several cycles of red lights, depending on the time of day.
I saw her standing outside of the ice cream shop holding the hand of her little brother as he held a cone in the other. Maybe it wasn’t her brother, but my guess is that it was.
I saw her face when they passed. Two other girls, about her age. They giggled together, and walked side by side in unison, as middle school girls tend to do.
I saw her shy smile – her head turned slightly downward but her eyes darting to their faces and away. She gave a slight wave as they walked on past, chatting and laughing to themselves, then quickly tucked her hair behind her ear and hid her unreturned greeting behind her back. I don’t think they purposefully ignored her. Maybe they did. But it appeared more likely that they simply didn’t notice her.
She was invisible.
I saw her peer behind her ever so slightly, through the corner of her eyes, to see of they would turn, to see if their giggles were at her expense.
I saw her expression, brief as it was, and I recognized it, for there was a time when I had worn it, too.
I saw her let out a sigh and crouch down to her brother, napkin at the ready. His smile was blue, thanks to the Cookie Monster ice cream he wore on his face…and shirt…and hands. Before she set to cleaning him up, she took the phone from her pocket.
I saw her smile – her true, pure joy – as she snapped a photo of her little brother, before setting to clean him up.
And I saw his smile, too. He reflected her joy and adoration. It is likely that later that night he annoyed her, or earlier that day she ignored him. But for that moment outside the ice cream store, she laughed with him and he soaked in her loving attention.
After a few minutes of burning fuel at this stoplight, I finally pulled off on my way. Though this was just last week, I do not remember where I was headed. But this brief scene has stuck with me. I wondered as I pulled away, what will this young girl remember about her excursion to the ice cream store? Which message will leave a more lasting impression upon her heart?
You are invisible.
You are everything to me in this moment.
I’m really hoping for the latter.