He clutched the flower to his chest and took a deep breath before turning the corner. He paused when he saw her hugging her mother goodbye then he stepped back.
“Go on, Noah.” His mother urged him forward.
He turned back, she knelt beside him.
“Listen, I have to go. Pinky promise.” She nodded to the dandelion in his hand.
Noah nodded and hooked his tiny finger with hers before she kissed his cheek.
“Love you, Mama.”
“I love you too, baby. Now, go on.” She smiled and winked as she turned away and left.
When the older woman followed suit, leaving her alone, he stepped toward her. With his heart in his throat, he reached a trembling hand forward, offering her the wilted flower.
“Sophie? I picked this for you.”
The girl’s eyes widened as a blushing smile crept over her face. She accepted the flower and tucked it in her hair, reaching for his hand and running to the classroom. Тhe teacher divided the children into groups for activities, separating Noah and Sophie. Noah and his group were instructed to build the tallest house they could while Sophie and her group took turns reading from picture books. The groups of children moved about the room until everyone had a chance to complete every activity, then the teacher sent them outside for recess.
Another boy chased Sophie outside, leaving Noah to follow behind. He dragged her up the stairs to the top of the tallest of the three slides and plucked the flower from her hair.
“Give it back, Danny!” She grabbed for it, but he held beyond her reach.
“You’ll get it back if you go down the slide.”
She froze and turned toward the slide, watching the people crowd below. Noah climbed the stairs, but Danny blocked him from getting to her. Sophie’s legs shook as she approached the top of the slide. She gripped the sides of the slide as she lowered down to sit. Noah bolted back down the stairs and waited for her at the bottom, motioning for her to come down.
“You can do it, come on!”
She took a deep breath, preparing to push herself down when Danny shoved her forward. Sophie screamed as she flew down the slide, crashing into Noah, who attempted to catch her at the bottom. They landed on the ground, covered in mud and scrapes. Noah helped Sophie to her feet, and they turned to look up at Danny crushing the dandelion beneath his foot. Sophie cried out and ran back inside with Noah at her heels.
“What happened to you two?” The teacher stared at the pair.
Both their voices mixed in a high-pitched, jumbled mess, and the teacher put her hands up.
“Listen, let’s get you two cleaned up, and then you can tell me.” She led the both the bathroom where she did her best to wash the scrapes as well as the mud from their clothes. “Now, tell me what happened.”
“Danny shoved Sophie down the big slide after he took her flower.”
“Noah tried to catch me, but I was going too fast. We crashed into each other, and then Danny stomped on it!”
“I’ll handle Danny, don’t worry.” She led the children back outside. “There’s still time to play, so try to have fun, okay?”
The two nodded and ran off toward the swings as the teacher called Danny inside. Sophie and Noah took turns pushing each other until Noah noticed patches of smile white flowers close by. He picked and handful and ran back to Sophie. She did her best to arrange them in her hair and turned to make sure no one watched before pecking Noah on the lips. He grinned and grabbed her hand, walking back to toward the preschool when the teacher called them inside.
“I see you two found the white clovers. Sophie, the flowers look beautiful!”
She smiled and nodded up at the teacher. She and Noah sat next to each other while the teacher took her place at the front of the room and read to the class. When the bell rang to dismiss them, Sophie took Noah’s hand and ran outside. He stopped her before they reached their parents, spotting a fresh dandelion and picked the vibrant, yellow flower.
He pressed the flower into her hand. “Now, you look like a princess.” He gestured to the array of clovers and the lone dandelion in her hand.
Sophie blushed and turned to meet her mother, but Noah stopped her. He stepped in front of her, returned the peck on the lips, and ran off to meet his mother at the front steps. She caught him in a hug and looked up to see Sophie fiddling with her flower crown.
“Hi there, Prince Charming, how’d it go?”
He blushed and smiled up at her. “She’s my princess now.”