The Princess on the Bridge

“She’s up there in the white car.”

I pull out from behind the Suburban, weighed down with drowsy children lining the back seat as dad steadily plows on across the bridge to another work week.

I steer the car across two lanes, pulling up within two cars of the elusive Volkswagen. The sedan in front of me slows, as I change back across two more lanes, slowly moving forward.

“She’s still there. Go back.”

Passing two cars I slip across the lanes pulling alongside her rear bumper. Traffic slows me as she pulls away.

“We’re almost across. We’ll miss her.”

I try one last time, drifting across one lane, overtaking another car, trading lanes again and speeding up.

I can see her profile as we pull up. I crane my neck, looking across Ms. Kluender and out the passenger window.

I slow the car and match her speed as our windows line up.

“A princess. I told you. She’s beautiful.” Ms. Kluender’s voice takes on the sincerity of years past, an eight-year-old waiting to be part of a fairy tale when her life would begin to be described as “happily”.

White gloved hands at 10 and 2, Cinderella checks her rear view mirror. Her blonde hair is put up by a sliver crown, puffy shoulders peeking above the window, her complexion as smooth as celluloid. She turns, smiles a mouth of impossibly white teeth, and waves to Ms. Kluender.

“She waved. She’s beautiful.”

We laugh. Many things seem absurd in our new home but for reasons we knew more about when we were kids, we feel a little lighter.

A living, breathing California princess. Thanks Walt!


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