To the Little Girl at Carnaval

I’m glad you liked your face paint.

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Your uncle plopped you into the seat in front of me and you shyly tucked your knees away under your arms. He nudged you, told you to tell me what you wanted. I could barely hear your sweet whisper voice under the maracatu drums beating in the background. I asked, a butterfly? a heart? a star?

Qualquer coisa colorida. You said as you smiled and lifted your head, squinting your eyes, I love all colors. Anything colorful, you whispered. Belkis nudged me, told me to ask you what you wanted. Oh, indecision.

I tried my best. A rainbow butterfly is what I had in mind. Red. orange. Yellow. But then you asked for purple and pink. Beautiful, a sunset butterfly to match the sky later that night.

All done, almost. I handed you the small mirror. Wait, the lipstick. Pink! You watched me apply it through the mirror, it made it more difficult for me, but I liked seeing you marvel as your lips got ever more sparkly. You loved it. I can’t believe I nearly forgot it. Thanks for reminding me.

Bye bye.

I saw you again, floating overtop heads. Fingers sticky with sweet pipoca. A little beacon of delight.

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You saw me again. You caught me by surprise, hugging the back of my legs, telling your dad that it was me! The girl that painted your face! Though there was only but a smudge left of it. We matched, I said, both wearing red. Can I wear your hat, she said? But of course. And we took a picture. She tried to give it back, but I told her she could have it. She would make better use of it than I could.

I don’t know your name. I don’t know your age. I just remember your sweet whisper voice and the smile on your face.

To the Little Girl at Carnaval, I wish you the best.

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Love and Peace,

Elise

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