The girl in the white dress sat quietly in church. Her heart beat, her feet ached, her hands twitched, but she sat still in church because that is what little girls do in church. Her white dress was folded in nice pleats just past her knees. Her white leather shoes were polished as shiny as ivory keys on a piano. She looked out of the stained windows of the church. She loved the way the light danced in colorful panels across the chapel. The walls were almost entirely stained glass. She did love this chapel, the ceilings were so high. She wondered if when the builders constructed the chapel that God thought the walls should be a little bit higher. So he took each edge of the chapel and pulled them with his fingers until they were tall enough for him. The light rested on the altar where the bishop was speaking. The colors made his face look painted, like an entertainer in the circus. He was singing and moving his arms around. She could almost imagine him doing a funny act with the clowns, it made her giggle to think about. Her mother, sitting straight as a tree, gave her a stern look. Her mother wore her brand new coat, the red one they had gotten from the dressmakers shop. The little girl didn’t like it, it was so crisp from newness that she couldn’t cuddle up to her mother as she would like. She straightened her back, trying to be as tall and dignified as her mother. One minute, two minutes. The little girl wondered whether giraffes had a hard time being tall, whether baby giraffes ever tried to stretch as she was trying to stretch. She wondered when the meeting would end, the bishop seemed to be speaking gibberish, because she couldn’t understand at all what he was saying. She waited, and waited, she started to feel a little sleepy. Her eyes became heavy, but she knew that girl little girls did not fall asleep in church. Her eyes snapped open, but felt heavy again. All of a sudden she heard the choir.
A few moments later she and her mother climbed into a shiny black motor car. The engine sputtered and putted as the vehicle traveled along the Rue de Rivoli. They passed cafes, where people sat and drank coffee and tea, she imagined they were spies making secret plans. The car continued, passing shops and houses; all built of the same white stone. The passed The Louvre, the girl liked the pictures there, they were so vibrant, but she hated how still you had to sit. There were beautiful gardens, and palaces, but they were not seeing those today. They turned onto the Avenue des Champs Élysées. The tree lined streets were beautiful in the spring. Ahead she could see the arc d’triumphe. The girl in the white dress arched her neck to see as they passed under it. Finally they crossed a bridge and arrived at the park.
There were many people there, in the park. A stern man with a tall top hat, and cane was sitting rigidly in the grass, he seemed to be very deep in his thoughts. There was a very proper couple. The man wearing a light suit and the woman held a monkey on a leash. It seemed odd to the little girl for such a rigid couple to have a monkey. The girl in the white dress felt a buzzing inside, almost as if she were made of thousands of dots of energy, just waiting to escape. She wondered if anyone else felt the same. She stayed calm though, for that is what little girls should do. Boats sailed, and skimmed on the water. An older girl collected flowers ripped the petals off one by one chanting to herself. Families picnicked and lounged, all in a very proper way. The girl in the white dress hugged her mothers skirts close. They found a spot and ate their lunch in a very sophisticated manner. The water crashed against the beach gently. All of a sudden a little brown dog with a white bow started nipping at the proper couple’s monkey. The monkey chattered excitedly at the dog. The uptight woman shooed at the dog. The monkey broke free with the leash and ran after the dog. They ran up and down the beach. The monkey tipped over a garbage can, the dog jumped over a man with a pipe, and scattered ashes everywhere. The dog jumped into the lap of the young woman with the flowers, petals flew all around. She looked very shocked, and pushed the dog away. A policeman blew a whistle and shouted, “Please come get your animals!” One girl was doing a pirouette, and the dog ran into her headlong, knocking her clean over. The little girl in the white dress thought this was the most exciting thing that could have happened. She clapped her hands and giggled as the animals chased each other. Finally, the proper man with the bright suit caught the monkey, and the serious man with the hat and cane picked up the rambunctious little dog. They gestured and pointed at each other for a few minutes before settling back to their original spots. Everything prim and proper again for a peaceful Sunday afternoon on the island of the Grand Jatte.