I went to the Bookmark today to check out their new beverage options and the owner greeted me at the door. Her name’s Miriam and she looks to be in her late 20s, though she had a serene, unironic pleasantness I don’t normally associate with secular women under 60 years old. She’s slightly shorter than Ella, and I wondered if she made a point of hiring people of that stature.
She took me toward the back of the store, where the serving area was, and rushed forward with an anxious kind of sound. Following her, I saw a row of stools around a counter, and Miriam standing at the leftmost stool with her back to me. She stepped aside and faced my direction, revealing a young girl sitting on the stool.
Miriam’s hand was on the girl’s shoulder. She had the same oval-shaped face as Miriam and the same hue of brown hair, though hers was straight and Miriam’s was wavy. Two things I’m not good at estimating are distances and children’s ages, so I don’t know how old the girl was, though she wasn’t big enough to have gotten to the top of her stool without help.
Miriam introduced the girl as her daughter, Annabelle. While Miriam was beaming, Annabelle regarded me solemnly, looking like a cherub that had just been informed I told a child Santa Claus was a myth.
“Hi, Annabelle. Do you like coming to the bookstore with your mom?” I asked. There was no response. “You like coming here, don’t you?” asked Miriam. “Yup,” said the girl, still looking at me.
I asked Miriam if she’s from Detling, and learned that she moved here from Saint Paul. I asked Annabelle if she liked her new home. “Yup,” she answered. Miriam said they have a bigger backyard now, and Annabelle has more space to play. Annabelle looked at Miriam. “Yeah, that’s a fun thing to do, isn’t it?” said Annabelle.
I must have looked surprised at the sophistication, so to speak, of that last one, because Miriam explained that Annabelle is kind of a mimic. Annabelle then started saying a series of words in a sing-song voice which, except for something that sounded like it could have been the word “early,” were all nonsense.
“Really? That’s fascinating!” Miriam said to Annabelle. Annabelle looked at me again with the same expression she had before. “Yup,” she said.