A hula hoop.
Glittering purple. A shining star against a backdrop of gray. Gray sky. Gray sidewalk. Gray buildings. Skinny, leafless gray trees jutting out of the dirt at measured intervals like twisted fingers. Gray mood.
Dark green paint visible beneath a film of dirt. Tires as bald as eggs. Spiderweb cracks in the windshield. A mountain was visible through the rear windows. A soaring peak of clothes, trash, stuffed animals, and bedding, bright vibrant colors interspersed among the rocks. The car sat parked along a sidewalk with its driver’s side door open, engine silent.
Hunched, quivering shoulders. Unshaven. Dirty sweatpants. His face was buried in both hands. He sat in the driver’s seat, facing sideways with feet firmly placed on the asphalt. Feet in reality and mind far away contemplating good things that should have been and bad things that could come to be.
Brown hair a ratted mess of curls and tangles. Bare, pale feet with black soles. Thin arms and narrow shoulders made even skinnier by an oversized white tank top. Well, it had been white at some point, but now it bordered on unpleasant tie-die. An uncalculated blend of yellows, browns, and reds thrust upon a white canvas. She sat on the sidewalk with a glittering purple hula hoop clasped in her tiny hands and a neutral, flat expression on her face.
Tick tock, tick tock. The morning wore on.
The girl shifted back and forth, tapped her feet, and ran her hands over the hula hoop admiring the sparkles. Her gaze shifted occasionally to the car and the muffled choking noise emitting from it, but she made no move to approach it. She stood and brought the hula hoop over her head, positioning it around her waist. A slight lean of the hips, release of the hands, and twist, twist, twist. The hula hoop spun around her waist, a purple carousel.
The beginnings of a smile.
An unintended stutter in the cadence and the arc of the hula hoop wobbled, and the toy clattered to the ground like so many other things. The girl bent and picked it right back up.
Twist, twist, twist.
The man stirred and sat upright, wiping at his runny nose and watery eyes. He feigned a smile, “Wow, you’re doing great.”
“What if it never stops spinning?” she asked in a laugh.
The man’s smile touched his eyes.
After all, the world keeps spinning.