Your fingers are so small, I worry that my hand will swallow them and that you will disappear. When you move through the crowd, I pretend there is an invisible rope that tethers our two bodies together. I pretend that I would feel it if you were suddenly missing, that I would be able to pull you back towards me like a sailor pulling up an anchor. When you move, I can feel every muscle of your body like it is my own. I can smell the shampoo and sweat in your hair. My body has memorized the weight of your body. If blindfolded and given random items to hold, a sack of flour, a slow cooker, a bag of baby dolls, I would know which one came closest to your weight. As you stand there and inspect the water flowing into the storm drain, all I want to do is scoop you up and press my face against your sticky cheek. You do not realize that I am watching as I call your brother, but I see you run your fingers through the small streams of water. I see you stand and smash your feet into the puddle until water beads up on the bottoms of your pants. When you take my hand again, I can feel the small rocks that have attached themselves to your fingerprints.
As we walk, I press my hand to the top of your head. You play games with your brother. You throw plastic rings at bottles of soda and roll a hard wooden ball up a ramp. You toss a beanbag and listen to it thud against the wooden face of a clown. You like the way the bags feel in your palms, heavy and solid, the way they sing as the beans slip past one another inside. You try to take the bean bags with you, but your brother helps you give them back to the girl working the booth. You walk around with your brother, watch him earn tokens. You join in when he throws a football into a net. You grab a ball from a box and slam dunk it into the hole. Your brother claps and you smile. The boys working the booth give you high fives. You eat candy and cups of corn and fried bits of tortilla that burn your tongue. Your brother gives you a cupcake covered in orange frosting and you smash it into your mouth, licking the icing like it is an ice cream cone. Your fingers turn orange and you cover your jacket in bits of smashed cake.
You brother finds a fire truck and the two of you yell and run to it. The firemen give you plastic red hats and let you try on their jackets that are so heavy you almost topple. You step into the truck and sit on a seat in the back and run your hands over the equipment. You stare at the firefighter who shows you what each piece of equipment does. You both look so at home inside the truck with your plastic helmets on, that I wonder if you were always a part of it and I never noticed. You try to follow your brother back down the metal steps, but your legs are too short. When you slip, one of the firemen catches you and places you on the pavement. You look up at him like he has offended you, which makes him laugh, and you pout. You walk back towards me and your hair curls around your face the way your dad’s did when I first met him. You follow your brother to the small petting zoo and run your hands across the sides of the goats, press your cheeks into their rough fur. Your brother points out the chickens and llamas and pigs and you imitate his words and try to respond. When you move, the goats move around you in circles. They nibble at your shoelaces and the edges of your pant legs. When you leave, you tell them bye and blow kisses at their noses. We ride a train through the parking lot and you laugh into the wind and wave hello to everyone we pass. Afterward, I carry you back to the car and your brother and I sing all the songs you like to keep you from falling asleep.