She was crying. Not the loud, ear-piercing scream type of crying but an occasional sniffle, tears dripping out of her eyes one by one type crying. Her hands were folded in her lap, her legs criss-crossed and shoulders bouncing with each small sob.
I was working at a small Montana town pool, so there wasn’t much to do. Concrete scorched my feet and knees as I kneeled down besides her, trying to soothe her. The sun was boiling this day, enhancing the burning smell of chlorine in the air. There was no breeze and only one wispy cloud in the pale blue sky. Water splashing and kids laughing were drowned out in my mind as I talked to this little six-year-old girl in an aqua blue swimsuit with a purple, ruffled skirt, blonde curls, slightly sunburned cheeks, and sapphire blue eyes.
She wanted to go home, but this pool was used more as a babysitting service than a family day of fun, parents often just dropping their kids off when the place opened and not returning for their kids until hours later at closing time. Often kids would become bored, counting down minutes or asking me to count down the minutes for them till it was time for their parents to finally take them home.
Fluttering behind her was a dainty yellow butterfly, bobbing around the air, checking out the royal blue tarp that covers the pool at night laying against the silver fence. I stood up and told her I would be right back. I fast-walked around the corner of the pool and into our little front office where our medical supplies and paperwork were stored. I grabbed a white and red box filled with blue latex gloves, like the ones often seen in hospital shows. I pulled out two and tossed the box back onto the wooden shelf above green lockers.
“Want to see something cool?” I asked as I approached her once again, sliding one roomy glove onto my left hand. Another yellow butterfly floated towards the tarp as they were unusually attracted to the pool. I stuck out my hand, and it landed on the side of my index finger, flapping its wings slowly to show off its color.
Her eyes widened in shock as the tears in her eyes began to dry up. A smile lifted her face and eyes. She stood up, using her left hand to push herself up and her right hand to brush the tears still stuck to her face.
“Do you want to try?” She eagerly nodded her head, jabbing out her right hand to me. I pulled the second blue glove over her stubby hand. She flapped the too-big fingers around and giggled to herself. She spun around on her heels, head darting around to find more yellow butterflies. She continued chasing around all kinds of bugs, gleeful when they befriended her, upset when they ignored her. Every so often, she would hop in the turquoise blue pool for no longer than a minute to cool off, then carry on with her game, a routine created. Chase, jump, sip light blue Gatorade, chase again, over and over. Her longing for home was replaced with the longing to catch a butterfly on her blue-gloved hand.