Look at them, how beautiful they are,’ the girl overheard the woman say. The woman was a tall blonde wearing a sleeveless, ankle-length romper – a faded pale blue, which made her look as though she were wearing the sky. Her navy-green backpack was a blemish unto the firmament, a patch of darkening cloud. She ran her hands up and down her shoulders, across the straps of the backpack. It was a rather large bag: she could have been a hiker, or even a tourist from overseas, only her accent was nothing special, just what one would expect of an American. Every once in a while, she ran her fingers through her shoulder-length hair. She reminded the girl of Ms Abrams, her English teacher, the way the curls fell like cooked spaghetti, all creamy-looking and spirally, except fluffier, a tiny bit like yellow foam.

Another woman stood by the blonde’s side, her red hair tied in a bun at the nape of her neck. She was also carrying a bag, but it was a tote, which hung down from her shoulder. She said, ‘They’re beautiful indeed. I just want to hold them and love them.’

The girl’s favorite place to be was there, at the zoo. Washington International School was not far away, fifteen minutes via Macomb Street NW and onto Connecticut Ave NW. Twenty minutes if she walked leisurely. Of course in the winter, it was not an easy walk, but there were sidewalks recessed from the road which were always cleared of any fallen snow by the afternoon, and which made it doable even with the black ice. But it was especially doable now, in the summer.

What Terrible Thing It Was