Six-year-old Hannah Baish tapped her foot, the bottom of her buckled shoe clacking on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Ms. Christie, one of the parent volunteers with a "No to 8" pin on her shirt, placed a warm hand on Hannah's shoulder. The little foot joined the other in a quiet bounce. The shoes hurt the girl's feet, and the backs of her legs dripped with sticky sweat from the sun behind her. Hannah twisted in place, slinging the hem of her denim skirt and sloshing the bubbles from the bottle onto her hand. Now it was sticky, too.
"Stand still," said the parent volunteer. "You don't want to miss them coming out."
Remembering her mission, Hannah straightened her back and stirred the bubble mixture with the orange wand. She would have preferred a cream pie, like the one they got to throw at Coach Miller during the fall festival two weeks ago, but she and her classmates could only choose between bubbles or rose petals, and rose petals made her hands itchy.
"This is an important day for your teacher," Ms. Christie had said before they left the bus, giving the first graders the good behavior speech. "It's an important day for the city, too, and you kids are lucky to be a part of it."
Hannah wished Stephanie could have come with them, but Stephanie said her parents wouldn't sign the permission slip. Kenny couldn't come either, but he never came on field trips.
Black curls rolled to the front of Hannah's face as she leaned around her classmates to peer at the large wooden doors. Devon, her arch enemy, stuck his hand in front of her. He smirked.
"I bet you can't even blow bubbles," he said.
"Maybe you can't, but I'm the best bubble blower in the world." She pounded her fists onto her hips for emphasis, sloshing more bubble mixture down the side of her skirt.
"Yeah, right." He moved toward the middle of the stairs, blocking out Hannah's view of the doors completely.
She had promised Kenny and Stephanie that she would blow their bubbles for them. But how could she if she couldn't see when the doors opened? She wouldn't get her head start, and she wouldn't be able to get all the bubbles out.
"Move!" she snapped elbowing Devon's side.
Devon scowled and stepped farther into the aisle. She looked behind her for Ms. Christie, but the woman had moved further down the line. Hannah had no choice. Stepping onto the lower step for a brace, she shoved Devon with all of her 49-pound might. His hands flew to the guard rail, releasing the bag he had been clutching. Pink rose petals fluttered onto the steps like ripped butterfly wings. Hannah could see the doors. Then Devon turned and swatted at the bubbles in her hand. She jerked the bottle away, shrieking as the contents sloshed onto her shirt. Before she could kick Devon in the shin, Ms. Christie whirled them around.
"What are you two doing?"
The doors opened, and the new couple descended, their faces aglow with deep smiles, white gowns shimmering in the midday sun. Both Ms. Lorry and her new wife had veils that waved behind their heads, covering their blond hair like doilies on light wooden tables. Bubbles and rose petals, like fragile confetti, whirled above their heads, the senders wearing smiles and calling out, "Ms. Lorry!" But Hannah wasn't smiling. Her bubbles were gone, and the parent volunteer still clutched her and Devon's shoulders.
"We'll deal with this when we get on the bus," Ms. Christie hissed in their ears. Then she straightened, smiling and waving at the approaching couple.
Devon shuffled the rose petals with his feet, scowling at both females. Hannah swiveled the wand at the bottom of the bubble bottle and brought the circle to her lips. As the two brides passed, Hannah blew as hard as she could, but the soapy mixture curled around the circle and splashed on her pooched lips.