Isabel, we need to walk faster.
I shift into a power walk.
Then Oliver sighs. Not THAT fast. You don’t want to get to court all sweaty and red-faced.
No sweat, I say.
Oliver doesn’t laugh.
That’s a joke, Oliver.
Very funny. Ha Ha. You DO know that the problem with sweaty and red-faced is that you’ll look suspicious? He pulls a kerchief out of his pocket. Here, use this.
Thanks, I pat my forehead dry, and say, Oliver, you’re like a mother to me; you think of everything.
Yikes. I can’t believe I’ve just uttered a light-hearted comment about mothers.
Oliver stays on topic. What can I say. I plan. So, should I sit in the courthouse courtyard or go to my Ag class at the college?
“Courthouse Courtyard” seems jokey to me also, and I really want him to wait, but it’s my inner paper bag princess who answers, I’ll be fine, go to class.
And so he leaves me at the foot of the courthouse steps—which are opposite the Courthouse Courtyard, just for reference.
What constitutes a “princess” is different for me than it is for, say, Mimi. Her princesses depended on Prince Charmings—not that she’s not strong and independent now of course. How could she not: she grew up in the 60’s! That had to be a great influence—women’s movement, abortion rights, integration. I’m from the princess era of Mulan, Tiana, and Jasmine, and more recently, Raya (Raya and the Last Dragon—the twins loved it. I needed to watch it with them, even though I’m too old for princess movies. I had to be there with my lap so they could bury their heads and hide their eyes and cover their ears at the scary parts.) These new princesses are warriors, gritty and independent, seekers of trust and unity.
Unlike me at this moment when I am so not being trustworthy or seeking unity.
Next thing I know, I’m taking a big breath and climbing these high, stone steps to the courthouse. I’ve mentioned that I’m awaiting another growth spurt? So, as a result, I’m still short, and these steps so deep and wide, it’s like climbing Mt. Washington. I would be more comfortable climbing them one at a time, like a little kid does; but I don’t want to call attention to myself. I keep my eyes on the riser in front of me and consequently bump the butt of the person in front of me, for heavens’ sakes. So much for being carefree, nonchalant, and unsuspicious.
Finally, I’m at the courthouse doors—doors like something from King Arthur or Hogwarts. Multilayers of oak planks held together by iron studs, strengthened and stiffened with iron bands. When Oliver and I did a dry run last week, he observed, They’d be hard to breech. See how the studs are pointed to the front? It’s so the attackers will damage their weapons.
We laughed merrily. No merry laughter now. And, of course I don’t have weapons. I come in peace. I think, They’re just doors, girl. Put your catapult away.
I yank open the door with both hands and wait for my cone cells to adapt to the relative darkness. It’s like I’m in that Emily Dickinson poem where I must wait to “grow accustomed to the dark…the bravest grope a little, and sometimes hit a tree, directly in the forehead…but as they learn to see…either darkness alters…or something in the sight adjusts itself to midnight…and life steps almost straight.”
I don’t hit a tree, but I do step straight into a broad-chested policeman who could have been Michael in a Make Way for Ducklings movie.
Excuse me, Miss. By any chance are you Miss Isabel Scheherazade?