Do You Believe in Magic? by evergreenwriter83
Chapter 2 by evergreenwriter83
For some reason that is completely unknown to me, my daughter is
fascinated with the arthropod exhibit. For those not in the know,
arthropods are creepy crawlies. Bugs, spiders,
crustaceans...basically everything I hated in life.
I sometimes wish there was such a thing as a maternity
Anyhow, Rielynn had her little face glued to the case housing the
Mexican Redknee Tarantula while I stared at the ceiling trying not
to think about all of the free spiders living happily with
their caged brethren. The thing was above seven inches from furry
leg to furry leg and it was more bumble-bee colored than red. As
for knees, well, I didn't even know spiders had
Rielynn's chirpy voice made me look down. She had one of her
animal crackers pressed to the glass, trying her damndest to feed
the thing. I squatted down, trying not to make direct contact with
"Spider doesn't eat cookies," I said. My eyes darted to the sign.
"He eats crickets are," I swallowed hard. "baby mice."
It was Charlie's theory that we shouldn't sugar-coat anything for
Rielynn. I knew that came from a person with a scientific mind,
but then again he didn't have to explain to a two-year old
Her eyes grew wide.
My point exactly.
Needless to say, the arthropod exhibit was mercifully cut short. I
knew that she would forget about this little trama by the next time
we visited, but at least today we were going to be able to enjoy
the more cuddly creatures a little longer before she totally copped
out on me.
We had lunch at a picnic table setup between Flamingo Lagoon and
the Critter Encounters. I had learned on my first trip that it was
wise to have lunch before your child stuck her hand into a
hungry animal's slobbery mouth. Rielynn was fixated on the
flamingos, bringing small broken up bites of PB&J without much
thought. Her cheeks puffed out as she chewed, a little grin
appearing every few seconds.
"Jews, jews, jews!!!"
In another setting, one would think an anti-Semite was among us,
but on a Friday at the zoo, it was just a toddler screaming for his
juice. I turned to look, my suspicions confirmed when I saw a
blonde little boy near Rielynn's age, arms flailing as he tried to
climb out of his umbrella stroller.
The blonde guy sitting on the corner of the other picnic table was
rooting through a giant white insulated cooler, split down the side
and held together with duct tape, looking panicked. He glanced at
the boy and then back down.
"Park, just a second," he said.
I knew I should look away, after all I had been there, done that
more times than I cared to admit, but I didn't. Two energy drinks,
an unopened container of (unwashed, I'm sure) strawberries, potato
chips, and an unopened pack of Kraft American Cheese singles came
out of the cooler.
"JEWWWWWSSS!!!!!!! WANT JEWWWWWSSSSSS!!!"
Even though his eyes were hidden behind a pair of designer shades,
sheer panic spread across the dad's face. The little boy was
beginning to hold his breath. He would either blow or pass out
"I have some extra juice."
From my insulated, pink and white polka dotted lunch container
(complete with hippo plastic sandwich containers), I pulled out an
extra box of apple juice.
"Yum!" Rielynn said, grabbing her sippy cup full of the liquid as
if I had produced the box as a reminder of her own afternoon
cocktail. I stood up, waving the box like one of Willie Wonka's
To the dad, that was exactly what the box appeared to be. I could
see it in the way the lines around his jaw faded as he took it. He made quick work of dumping it
into the boy's sippy cup.
He slid off his glasses and smiled. "You saved my life."
His eyes were a gorgeous shade of blue, brought out more by his
tan. I didn't think it was fair that anyone have a tan in March.
"Macie," I said. The smile didn't fade.
"You have no idea how bad Juice-opalypse can get."
"Oh," I looked over my shoulder. "I think I can."
Rielynn had finished her juice. She had finished her sandwich. The cookies were out of her reach. She drew in a deep breath.
I braced myself.
Nick started to laugh.
"I think these two should meet," he chuckled. I made the three long strides back to our table and dug into the bag. A second later, Rielynn was in soggy cookie heaven. I looked back at Nick.
"Rielynn," I said, by way of introduction. Nick smiled.
"Parker." He slid his shades back on. "Petting zoo?"
I hesitated. Sure, I had just saved him and his son from Juice-opalypse, but he could be an axe murderer. For all I knew the kid wasn't even his. He could have gone to rent-a-kid and this was just some big ploy...
A ploy to what? Spend time with a woman who had literally just yanked her hair into a ponytail without even brushing out the giant knot she'd been working on for days?
"Sounds like a plan," I found myself saying.
"Awesome," he sounded relieved.
"I hate to take on the goats all by myself."
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.