As Alice pushed her battered tartan shopping trolley towards the mall she watched a child playing hopscotch in the distance. The blonde girl, in her red duffel coat reminded the old woman of Little Red Riding hood.
Sitting on a low wall, bordering the car park, was a young man who must be her father. The little girl would throw her stone, then hop, skip and jump the course, running to hug her father's leg when she succeeded and letting him lift her onto his knee and bury his face in her neck when she failed, kissing and snuffling and sending her squealing back to the course.
Drawing nearer, Alice could see the toy shop carrier bag next to the man's foot, and next to that the discarded MacDonald's wrappers, stacked ready for the bin. The man looked at his watch, and though she was still too far away to hear it, Alice sensed how wistfully he sighed as he called his child over for another hug, just because.
He caught Alice's looking at him, chin resting on the little girl's head and he gave the old lady a shy smile.
When she was level with him Alice looked at the hop scotch course the little girl had drawn on the paving slabs. Each chalk line neatly intersecting the middle of the block's edge. With every hop and jump the little girl's feet landed where the corners of four blocks met.
"Oh, love, doesn't she know?" she asked the man. "Step on a crack-"
"She knows," he replied. "She won't let me draw it any other way."