Her fingertip grazed my temple. I leaned ever so slightly into the spot where skin pressed against skin. The sensation raised a memory: another woman's hands––from long ago––that had failed to pat my cheek, failed to braid my hair, failed to articulate my essential prettiness.
"Beautiful," Mary said. She held up a mirror. I peeked. She was right.
I saw very few maple trees at the Maple Festival. They shied away, their scarlets and oranges dulled in comparison with the blazing cuteness of me in my new hat. Touring other craft booths, I pretended to savor cinnamon-roasted almonds, plucked one at a time from out of a paper cone––but really, I was enthralled with how the soft yarn was caressing my ears, warding off the chill of past neglect.
I snuggled into bed that night, still wearing my new hat.