Annelise could never decide if she liked chocolate or pistachio the best. She stood with her small nose pressed up against the glass display case, gazing at the large round containers of ice cream. The chocolate looked so rich and thick and fudgy. But the pistachio was such a lovely shade of green. Green reminded her of spring and grass and flowers.
“Come on, child, I don’t have all day,” the man behind the counter said. “Although you are my prettiest customer, I do have others waiting.”
“I’ll have the fudge ripple,” a stout man huffed from behind Annelise.
“You can wait a moment, Bill,” the clerk said, “Annelise was here first. What will you have, my girly?”
“Pistach… NO! Chocolate!” she decided. She waited patiently while Mr. Stevens scooped out a large round scoop of the rich chocolate ice cream. Her eyes widened as he carefully packed it into a waffle cone wrapped in a paper napkin. He bent down to give the ice cream cone to the little girl, and she handed him her handful of tightly clutched change in payment.
“Careful, don’t drop it,” he smiled.
“I won’t. Thanks!”
She turned to skip out of the store, proudly holding her prize. She turned right as she left the store and started down the sidewalk. She was careful not to step on any of the broken pavement. She didn’t want to drop the cone.
She noticed a group of boys hanging around outside the newsstand so she hurried to catch up with a mom pushing a stroller with two little babies inside. She walked just behind the mom, pretending she was with her. She saw one or two of the boys turn to watch her pass, and they eyed her ice cream enviously, but they left her alone.
A bit farther on, she saw another girl walking a puppy on a red leash.
“Is that your dog?” she asked, stopping to give his fluffy head a pat.
“Yes, he’s a cocker spaniel, and he’s called Fred,” the girl said.
“Hi, Fred,” Annelise said. She was careful to keep the ice cream out of Fred’s reach.
“Is that your ice cream?” the girl asked, “It’s going to drip.”
“I have to go!” Annelise said, hurrying away.
She continued on down the block, passing stores and buildings until she came to an open grassy area. The large vacant lot in between buildings had been turned into a neighborhood park years ago. There were trees, and flowers bloomed in the spring and summer. The town had put out a few benches, and the neighbors had made a twisting walkway that wound between the flowerbeds.
Annelise skipped down the path, stopping for a moment to watch a squirrel climb a tree. She felt the ice cream drip onto the back of her hand so she hurried on. As she turned the corner, she saw a solitary figure sitting on the bench up ahead.
The old man turned to watch her approach. He smiled as she came closer.
“Here you are, Grandpa!” she said, holding out the ice cream cone. “I got your favorite today!”
The old man smiled and hugged her close.
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