I watched Mitch
's eyes as they floated over me and to my left shoulder. His head turned and the thought he was about to dispel into the dispassionate atmosphere of the mall
's food court
was saved, stuffed back in. "Yes?" I asked in an effort to revive the conversation
, but then I saw it.
A cushion of air couldn't have been so delicate. A perfect sphere, something not entirely unlike a soap bubble, glided along the mall floor, bobbing along on an unseen current, darting between legs and stroller wheels. We were spellbound. I looked around for someone with a bubble blower, but there was nothing. This was magical and fleeting. We were sure that this mystical sprite would leave us suddenly, mysteriously, like its entrance into our lives.
Mitch turned his head to watch as it floated around the kiosks. A tiny Hispanic couple stopped and watched, breathless as we were. We all hissed a curt sigh of tension as a toddler nearly stepped on it. As the bubble made its way to the toy helicopter stand, the couple continued with their last minute shopping. Mitch and I remained in our seats.
It danced along the jeans of an unwary teen, clear and vibrant, reflecting what little natural light found its way through the skylights above. Whenever somebody walked between us, Mitch would hiss, "Move. Move move move," in an effort to let our observance of this phenomenon continue unhindered.
"It's a Christmas miracle!" I sarcastically swooned, only slightly disappointed that my comment was met with no noticable regard. Still, we stared.
Along the faux wooden island selling jigsaw puzzles, up in the air, hip height now, five minutes into its flight. I glance around to find the source again. Cinnabon, Hot Cats, Easy Spirit shoes, Electronics Boutique, Sam Goody. No mall store could create a thing of such simple, fragile concinnity. This was something that could not be packaged, opened on Christmas morn, played with for a few hours and then forgotten about, dusted off a few years later for a garage sale. This was the best kind of beauty, a momentary wonder.
The bubble, tiny from distance now, wafts up to the fingertips of a man in a tan jacket. With casual notice, he outstretched his hand and softly snapped it shut on the bubble. His eyes, unseen by us, move back to the crowd of the mall, his mind back to thoughts of tomorrow's temporary joy. Mitch and I sit stunned, shocked that such a mild atrocity could occur.
"I wonder," said Mitch after a while, "if that was God. What a very strange thing to have happened."
"God?" I reply.
"Yeah. I mean, if it was, I think I have a much lower opinion of gods now."
We watch the tall, grey-ponytailed man disappear into the crowd. Our momentary anger subsides. The day continues, but a strange sort of childhood wonder, a part of me that seemed had gone missing for some time, is strangely renewed by the magic of an ordinary thing.