Margaret span around on the merry-go-round a bit, dragging her feet through the mud. Her tennis shoes had been new a week ago. Now they were more brown than black, and the laces looked washed out and limp, like an overused sock.
The merry-go-round creaked. It always did, but not as bad as the see-saw, which squealed like a girl who had gotten a puppy for Christmas. Except for much louder. And much more annoying.
Margaret pushed her toes through a particularly muddy spot, and heard the crinkle of plastic. Curious, she bent over and found an old, beat-up fortune cookie. Probably as old as the park itself, Margaret thought. She grabbed it, and without hesitation, opened it up.
She didn't eat it. She wasn't an idiot. She just opened it up, letting the crumbled up cookie blow away with the wind. She didn't see a fortune inside.
Well, that's dumb, Margaret thought. A fortune cookie with no fortune. She went back to her routine spin on the merry-go-round.
As she span, the merry-go-round creaking more often than it span anyhow, she noticed a little piece of paper, caught between the floor and one of the bars, flapping in the air like a worm on a fishhook.
Margaret decided to ignore it, but nothing in the park liked to be ignored. The merry-go-round seemed to creak even more, protesting her act of avoidance.
Perhaps it was just to please the merry-go-round, one of the few things she could say she really cared about, but she reluctantly leaned over and grabbed the piece of paper, expecting some receipt or grocery list.
Except she didn't get to find out, for the instant she reached for it, the paper snapped free and flew through the air in the heavy wind, enjoying its freedom. Margaret was willing to let it fly wherever it wanted to, but once again, the merry-go-round won the argument. She really needed to work on her debating skills.
Margaret didn't run, though. She never ran. It was part of her code. No, she didn't run, she strolled, just a little faster than normal.
The paper ended up flying straight into an outhouse. There goes that little adventure. No way was she going in there. Few things got better with age, and an outhouse was most definitely not one of them. The smell was enough to keep her away from the monkey bars, and even they seemed to be leaning away from the outhouse.
Margaret turned away, shrugging to no one in particular, and went back to her merry-go-round.
As she walked away, she didn't notice the paper flying back out of the outhouse. She didn't notice the wind plastering it to the wall. She didn't notice that it was the fortune from the fortune cookie. She didn't notice what it said. If she did, maybe she would have taken a different path. Maybe she would have saved herself a lot of trouble.
As it happened, she didn't. But someone else certainly did.