It’s still there on the ground when we come back. There, where it had dropped from her hands, although really from my hand, since her hands had only really been a funnel of unruly fingers through which to pass. I saw the crisp first: our tiny piece of litter from earlier. Back then, she had heard the rustle of the packet, had lifted two tiny arms to acknowledge and demand without words. She brought her hands together and locked her fingers loosely like a gathering of campfire sticks. I pulled the crisp free of the bag and tried to find her forefinger and thumb to receive it from my own. Reaching down to her; her reaching up to me. It fell through her fingers and hit the ground. She watched it land and voiced a meditative ‘oh-oh’. Then she came again, extending further upwards at a stretch. And this time I found her hand and her hand, in turn, found her mouth, and she smiled and let out a small groan of contentment. I looked behind to where the previous crisp had fallen, thinking of the many dogs that would be walked, following in our steps. One would claim it not long after we were gone.
Several hours have passed before we return the same way and I see it there on the ground once more. A little stab of shame. No dog has yet managed to seize it, no foot has yet crushed it into the weather-beaten slab onto which it fell. She sees it again too and a refrain of ‘oh-oh’ chimes once more, her memory and limited vocabulary combining so aptly. This brings a wide smile to my face. A square thin of fried potato holds both our attentions. Her stare focuses on the crisp like a torch beam, mine wanders the immediate area, taking in each companion decaying form: leaves the colour of a purse my mother used to own; some greying matter barnacled to the stone.
In front of us, the street lamps slowly wink into life: that stuttering process which must first reinforce darkness before it can relieve it. Up above, the clouds bank in grey. The wind blows into us, letting us know that the grey will soon visit here. Rain will wash and begin to change the little form that fell through her grasp. Sky and parts of this ground already the same hue. Not long before our little mistake more rapidly starts to decompose; before this tiny blot of shame can be erased.